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Diversity Recruiting Strategies that Strengthen Your Workforce

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 10/08/2020

women of color being interviewed

Table of Contents

Diversity recruiting isn't a passing human resources trend. It's a key element of personnel hiring and retention that can have a great effect on workplace productivity and morale in the decades to come.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across a range of industries were facing a number of factors impacting the recruiting landscape, like increased competition for leading candidates. As a result, HR personnel need to be innovative in how they source and attract talent. While it is critical to always comply with anti-discrimination laws and hire based on job-related skills, there are also ways to help increase diversity in your recruiting strategy.

What does diversity recruiting mean?

The term "diversity recruiting" generally describes increasing diversity in your recruiting strategy and taking steps to be more inclusive about where and how a company sources potential job candidates.

What diversity recruiting is not is seeking to hire candidates for the sake of diversity alone.

Business should be mindful with recruiting and all employment practices to adhere to applicable federal, state and local laws and guidance such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines.

Why is diverse recruiting important?

The demographics of job-seekers are constantly changing, making workplace diversity an essential goal of a company's overall hiring strategy. Among the benefits of this approach:

  • Diversity can result in a stronger, more diversified workplace.
  • Companies that gain a reputation for prioritizing diverse hiring may attract a stronger pool of talented job candidates. They may also enjoy increased customer loyalty among a target audience that values socially responsible business practices.

Also, businesses known for employing a diverse range of workers can gain a deeper understanding of the needs and challenges their varied customer audiences face. This is rarely possible when a workforce (including executives) is primarily of one or another limited demographic.

Ways to diversify your recruiting strategy

Establishing a brand

Consider what a potential applicant sees when they look at your company. Is diversity a value that's reflected in your company's descriptions, values, or mission? Does your management team or the staff featured on your website reflect a diverse culture?

Companies that factor in this "brand element" generally excel in key areas. These include:

  • Casting a wider sourcing net
  • Evaluating their job ads and promotion strategies for implicit bias
  • Informing professional organizations with diverse memberships about job openings
  • Creating internal job boards or member newsletters
  • Establishing clear criteria with outside recruiters
  • Prioritizing partners who have a track record in this area
  • Crafting a diversity statement as part of their job descriptions

It's even helpful to look at stock photography you've chosen for the creative imagery on your sites and recruiting collateral. Make sure that the visual aspects of your recruiting communications reflect who your company wants to be.

All of these efforts can result in a "company profile" that's appealing to new job applicants. It may be the crucial factor in determining what those applicants think when they look at your business as a place where they might want to work.

Use sourcing methods that contain diverse pipelines

In these challenging times, there's a strong argument to be made for exploring out-of-the-box sourcing and hiring methods. Among those worth considering:

Employee referral hire programs

Many companies have created referral programs that reward employees with a cash bonus (or some other reward) for tapping into their personal and online networks for promising candidates. This is potentially a key tactic in achieving the goal of a diverse workplace.

Current employees understand the company and industry as well as anyone, and know what it takes to succeed in specific roles. So this can be a valuable resource that shouldn't be overlooked. If you haven't yet initiated a referral program, investigate establishing one and emphasize its priority within your existing workforce.

Social media recruiting

Now is a good time to boost your social media activity. Social media platforms and mobile devices have become favored tools for recruiters to advertise positions and source applicants. Many candidates look for jobs online and demand the ability to browse job postings and apply for positions from their mobile devices. Job seekers may frequent social media platforms even before they are officially on the job market, so this is a great opportunity to catch quality candidates' attentions early.

To maximize your efficiency with this strategy, do your homework on which social platforms are best for reaching your target audience. Survey your employees and other connections in the industry to identify which sites are most often used by job seekers in your market. Familiarize yourself with these platforms, then use them to spread the word that you're looking to hire. At the same time, use your company website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages to feature your business in the best light and encourage your current employees to do the same.

Implement an applicant tracking system

An integrated human capital management system that includes a customized applicant tracking solution is essential to help make sure that qualified candidates don't slip through the cracks. Applicant tracking systems can streamline the process for applicants and hiring managers alike; candidates can easily submit their materials online, and hiring managers and HR personnel can access the information they need from a single interface.

Attracting workers

Every business, large and small, must generate ways to appeal to potential job applicants. But since job candidates can come from a wide range of diverse backgrounds, a one-size-fits-all approach generally won't work. Here are some effective options to consider:

Work benefits can attract workers of different backgrounds

Various technologies can assist in your search for diverse employees. These include:

Learning management systems (LMS). This is a powerful, versatile, and flexible e-learning application that businesses can use to plan, implement, and assess specific learning processes. Learning management systems, often web-based, allow instructors to develop and deliver content, monitor learners' participation, and assess their performance.

An LMS provides education for today's wired, mobile, fast-paced workplace. It:

  • Eliminates the need to pull learners away from their work for in-person training and lets participants obtain training materials online, when convenient.
  • Breaks the geography barriers that exist with a remote workforce.
  • Makes content creation easy with a simple and intuitive platform that benefits both developers and trainers.
  • Makes continuing education accessible to businesses of any size.

Applicants who know that your company offers valuable learning opportunities may put your firm at the top of their job search efforts.

Career pathing: Prospective employees who see an opportunity for a well-defined career path may be more interested in working for an employer that wants to keep them interested, challenged, and professionally curious. Career pathing encourages the employee that the employer is willing to invest in their development.

A career path is a type of talent management strategy that charts the career development for an employee with a particular employer. A thorough career path identifies opportunities for advancement based on an individual's unique skills, interests, and career objectives, and details the steps that the employee needs to take along the way to reach various milestones. For professional growth and development, career mapping is essential.

Employees can feel uncertain about job security especially with automation on the rise and the possibility of artificial intelligence taking over many traditional tasks. As businesses feel the need to scale the workforce from project to project, (e.g. manufacturing, marketing, information technology, or construction), employee angst can be compounded.

Effective HR teams and managers are positioned to help employees build a bridge to career growth, so they can be confident their role is important and can evolve over time. Moreover, employees will feel that you have their best interests in mind, which in turn can boost their sense of security and you may be rewarded with increased loyalty and engagement.

Professional development training: The value to potential employees of career development and advancement can't be overstated. Employers have much to gain by offering this option to job candidates. Benefits include:

  • Strengthened skill sets: Training can help employees to improve in certain areas, and conversely, enhance current knowledge with up-to-date information. In turn, the organization enjoys the benefits of being at the forefront of its field.
  • A healthier corporate culture: Investment in training sends a clear message: you care about staff and believe in your employees. This will attract new applicants, while also fostering a sense of belonging in employees who may work harder with a deeper commitment to their teams.
  • Enhanced employee advancement: An organization is no different. Workplace training allows your business to nurture leadership potential from within, and can help ensure future transitions are smooth, effective, and efficient.
  • Increased engagement and performance: Strengthening an employee's skill set is one way to bolster confidence and help employees assume greater ownership in their role. This can translate to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and engagement.

Attracting workers of all ages

As your company prepares to reopen or to return to full production, consider launching one or both of the following programs:

Look for candidates with greater experience. As the 55+ age group continues to be a major element in the American labor force, this is a good time to expand your diversity recruiting strategies to include more of this seasoned demographic.

It’s important to ensure that hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers “have a clear grasp of age discrimination laws and more subtle forms of age bias,” notes AARP. This can be achieved “through ongoing training on age diversity, as well as by fostering an atmosphere where talent and ability, not age,” are the determining factors.

Seek out talented young people. Create a formal college recruiting program that targets recent graduates with the appropriate degree for your available positions. If you already have a program in place, evaluate whether it's time to expand the number of schools you target for recruiting. Embracing the use of social media for job promotion may also help you attract millennial Generation Z candidates.

Since they've grown up with technology, these generations may be more accustomed to working in a variety of locations — not just the traditional 9-to-5 workplace. As they take these habits into the world of business, many prefer flexible working options.

Millennials and Generation Z may be looking for:

  • Flexible office hours
  • Opportunity for telecommuting
  • Compressed work week
  • Job sharing

Here are techniques for attracting millennial talent in particular:

Get to know them personally to encourage performance: If you want to attract millennials, you may need to intentionally engage with them on a personal level. For instance, work to understand their personal goals and craft strategies that integrate those goals into performance metrics and meaningful job deliverables.

Renew your organization's commitment to a team-centric focus: Teams, teamwork, and social interaction are important to millennials who have grown up around social media, text messaging, and near-constant connectivity with others. A team-oriented focus often resonates with this group.

Establish a culture of mentorship and growth within the organization: A complementary tactic to the team approach is formalizing a mentorship program as well.

Other generational recruiting tips:

When attracting and managing Gen Z in the workplace, employers should build a strong brand across digital platforms. Employees from this generation often turn to the internet and social media when researching potential employers.

Gen Xers are comfortable using technology and online recruitment and hiring tools, but they're also comfortable with face-to-face interactions.

Older employees may be more comfortable with traditional recruiting processes that include creating formal resumes and holding face-to-face interviews. They may be more likely to find jobs through advertisements, word of mouth, and referrals.


The quality and character of the people you hire helps set the path ahead for your organization for years or decades to come. Having the right diversity recruitment strategy in place can make your recruitment process more efficient and cost-effective.

Learn more about how Paychex Hiring Services can help you overcome the challenges of recruitment in our new age, and guide your efforts to putting together the most talented, independent, and forward-looking workforce in your company's history.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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