Apple, Twitter and Diversity as a Hiring Strategy

Apple, Twitter and Diversity as a Hiring Strategy

Emily Smykal

diversity reporting for recruitingMost large corporations release data on a consistent basis–cash flows, gross margins, quarterly sales–figures we’ve come to expect. But a relatively new addition to the numbers, diversity in the workplace, has a much more personal implication.

Diversity means many things. In corporate culture it often refers to the inclusion of minorities, workers with disabilities, and so on. And while employing a heterogeneous workforce has always been a goal of corporate America in theory, it has recently become a much more prominent goal in practice.

In a global survey conducted by Deloitte last year, almost 30% of global respondents said they were unprepared when it came to diversity hiring, and only 20% claimed to be fully prepared. Plus, 61% of employees in a related study at the time reported they were “covering” some personal aspect (advocacy, affiliation, appearance, association) in order to fit in at work.

More vocal challenges to the corporate norm, combined with the benefits of hiring a more diverse workforce, are now leading many big businesses to not just rethink their hiring strategy, but also enlist the help of others to foster greater diversity.

What Diversity Means in the Workplace

Since 1964, federal laws prohibiting discrimination while hiring have been in place. Today they include protections based on race, color, religion, sex (including limited protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

Employers who meet certain criteria must report diversity figures relating to gender and race/ethnicity. But some companies are going even further. Apple, one of the largest corporations in the world, recently released its own diversity report, including growth in hiring of female and black employees. Twitter published a similar report, and the company went so far as to set goals for diversity hiring for the next year.

But diversity hiring, and the reporting of diversity figures, should not simply be a matter of filling perceived quotas. A diverse workforce allows companies to address a range of customer perspectives and needs, and can generate more varied ideas. On the flip side, research shows a staff that largely identifies with the same culture, and comes from the same background, will offer a more narrow range of insights and experiences.

Diversity As an Employer Branding Strategy

We often discuss the importance of employer branding in the broader hiring strategy, and diversity is one of its many key elements. Starting with the recruitment process, an employer brand that includes a strong grasp of diversity will immediately be more attractive to global candidates. According to research by Glassdoor, among active and passive job seekers, 67% said a diverse workforce is important when considering employers and job offers.

And when it comes to your existing workforce, diversity is equally significant. It would be difficult to promote your employer brand as being diverse if your actual workforce is overwhelmingly skewed toward one demographic. A diverse workplace allows companies to utilize the variety of strengths each employee has, while leveraging their differences to foster more engaging and thoughtful discussions.

If an employee feels they need to hide part of their identity while in the office, or thinks they were hired simply to check off a box on an equal opportunity report, they will be far less engaged than an employee who feels welcomed and valued by their employer.

Diversity As an Innovation and Growth Strategy

Looking beyond employer branding, greater diversity in the workplace has been shown to reduce turnover, increase innovation and creativity, and promote better problem solving. Research among employees in the U.S. found that those working in significantly more diverse companies were 45% more likely to report an increase in market share, and 70% felt their company had captured a new market.

The same survey found that 78% of respondents were employed by companies without wide ranging diversity traits in leadership. In these environments, “women are 20% less likely than straight white men to win endorsement for their ideas; people of color are 24% less likely; and LGBTs are 21% less likely.” So a diversity deficit, especially at the top, has a knock on effect. Existing employees who fall into minority categories may end up with less of a voice, and less impact, leading to a less diverse pool of ideas.

The consequences of a more homogeneous workplace are even more troubling when you consider changes to the workforce. By approximately 2050, the U.S. will have no racial or ethnic majority. And in that time, new immigrants and their offspring will account for much of the growth in the working-age population. Corporations who refuse to embrace diversity, and make it work to their advantage, will face an ever-shrinking pool of indistinguishable candidates.

Companies like Apple and Twitter clearly see the benefit of inclusionary recruiting and hiring strategies—even if they’re making slow but incremental progress. Besides publishing their own diversity data, both businesses are partnering with organizations that promote STEM skills among minority candidates, and are adjusting aspects of the recruitment process that may have prevented diverse candidates from applying.

Everything from the language used in a job description, to unrecognized biases among existing managers and leaders, can prevent a business from appealing equally to all candidates. Instead, recruiters can increase the diversity of interview panels, post jobs where more diverse candidates will find them, and partner with organizations that represent all facets of the workforce. Identifying these problems and taking steps to counteract them can help set a company on the right path to diversity.

Interested in learning more about what it takes to build a modern candidate experience? Check out our new “9-Point Checklist for Building a Next-Generation Candidate Experience.”

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