Diversity Recruiting: One Step At A Time

Recruiting for diversity is a such a broad target that it’s no wonder recruiters and business leaders find themselves frustrated. There are too many elements involved in becoming a truly diverse workforce and it’s time to start looking at those different elements in their own light. Instead of a broad-based diversity hiring goal, it’s time to think smaller to make a larger impact. 

Neurodiverse Hiring

We love this recent example from CXR Member Company, Dell. Instead of looking at age diversity, racial diversity, gender diversity etc – though certainly Dell has targets for those groups as well – Dell chose to seek out neurodiverse candidates. They are one of a growing number of employers who are looking at the differing ways people’s brains process information and how those differences can be assets.

[Read more about Dell’s neurodiverse hiring initiatives in this excellent overview from Catalyst.]

The number of quality prospects capable of performing well in professional and hourly positions who happen to have autism (as an example) is surprisingly large. The number of prospects with autism who are unemployed is estimated at 80%. Calling this population under-served is a misnomer. That they are ignored in the midst of talent shortage should be an embarrassment to any professional recruiter – regardless of the challenges in moving this needle.

[An overlooked diversity hiring opportunity]

How can you move the needle on diversity hiring?

Certainly targeting a very specific niche as mentioned above is one way to start making a difference. It’s a realistic way to start making an impact. And if you can make an impact in very targeted groups, your overall diversity will begin to grow by leaps and bounds. It’s a strategic approach that sets different goals for different diversity hiring targets. It’s also an approach that allows you to truly customize your efforts for optimal results. 

We posed a similar challenge to the Sourcing Colloquium earlier this year. Their ideas are an excellent start to improving your diversity hiring:

  • Build custom filters / boolean search strings in LinkedIn to target specific populations
  • Increase diversity outreach at the post-high school level, whether that be university or two-year programs. Consider even earlier outreach to high schools with the idea of creating your own diverse talent pools.
  • Expand your talent pool… look at women who have left the workforce to raise a family, older candidates who may be looking for part-time work, neurodiverse candidates, candidates with special needs based on sight or hearing. Build support systems for these groups and then use those to attract and retain candidates.

Regardless of what group you target or how you go about it, make sure that you don’t lose contact with the diverse candidates and alumni who are already in your system. Half the battle is finding these exceptional candidates. The other half is keeping them engaged and ready-to-hire. (We could argue that a third of the battle is finding them; a third is keeping them engaged and a third is retaining them… but that’s another article.)

Are you moving the needle in an interesting way?

We want to hear from you. We’d love to put together a panel of employers who are actively engaged in neurodiverse hiring or any niche diversity hiring effort that is (currently) considered “non-standard.” Reach out and let us know what you’re doing in the eXchanges and lets inspire each other.



Gerry Crispin

Gerry Crispin

Gerry co-authored eight books on the evolution of staffing and has written 100s of articles and whitepapers on similar topics during a career in Human Resources that spans more than 40 years from HR leadership positions at Johnson and Johnson; to boutique Executive Search firms; a Career Services Director at the University where he received his Engineering and 2 advanced degrees in Organizational/Industrial Behavior; and, GM of a major recruitment advertising firm even as he launched CareerXroads 25 years ago.

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