5 Ways that small business owners can champion diversity and become an ally in their hiring
I’ve put off writing about allyship and recruitment for a few months now because the topic feels so vast and I feel unequipped to do it justice. But I’ve worked in recruitment for nearly a year and think it’s about time to face this head-on.
Hiring for diversity and creating a culture of allyship isn’t easy. But when you put in the work you’ll get to reap the amazing benefits.
When diverse businesses are 35% more likely to make higher profits, you can’t afford to ignore your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts – or lack thereof.
What is an ally?
An ally is an advocate for equality. An ally will proactively tackle bias and discrimination while listening and amplifying the voices of discriminated people.
You don’t magically become an ally after reading a couple of articles on diversity and hiring. You become an ally through action – you have to earn the title.
In recruitment, an ally will champion fair hiring processes and constantly look at improving their own. They will look for feedback, tackle traditions and ultimately reap excellent results.
Being an ally is hard work – you don’t suddenly get to stop your activism when you hire a few people of colour.
And allyship doesn’t just relate to race, but gender identity, disability and sexual orientation too.
Why should you tackle hiring biases?
Beyond the simple idea that being an ally is the right thing to do, there are so many more reasons why championing equality is worth your time.
Identity is a historical issue in hiring. Lots of business owners and hiring managers tend to value culture fit above all else, meaning that if they get on well with a candidate, they’ll be hired.
But as we’re far more likely to feel comfortable talking with people that look and sound like us, this method hinders diversity efforts.
This means that where you set out to hire the best candidate, your unconscious bias could sabotage your efforts and have you hiring someone just because they look and sound like you. So if you want to hire the top talent, you have to be an ally.
Publicly advertising your efforts to improve your diversity and inclusion is a great thing that can put you in touch with a greater pool of skilled applicants. This is an issue that really resonates with younger, Gen Z applicants no matter their race, sexual orientation and gender.
People want to work for employers that care about the same things that they do.
5 Ways to be an ally with your hiring process
1 – Tackle bias head-on
You can’t simply say that you’re ‘colourblind’ – you have to be colour-aware.
Take an active approach to your diversity efforts. For example, if you feel yourself gravitating towards candidates with English-sounding names, take a moment to really think it through and challenge that instinct.
Take every hiring decision seriously and slowly. We tend to rush recruitment, but processes can last months! If you want to run a fair process and find the best candidates, take your time.
A great method to tackle bias is to hire with someone else. Whether it’s your co-founder, business partner or a hiring manager you know, run any decisions by them and explain your thought process.
With you checking their decisions and them checking yours, you should be set up to make the right hire.
2 – Listen and empower
As a white woman writing this, don’t just listen to me! To build a strong culture of inclusion, ask your diverse colleagues, friends and your candidates for their opinion on your hiring process and business practices.
If you receive any requests from candidates – for example to accommodate for their wheelchair in the office interview or to refer to them with certain pronouns like they/them – think these through.
Simply making these requests puts your candidates in an uncomfortable position – outing something about their identity that could be used against them by less kind employers. So constantly revamp your process to make sure that it automatically accommodates them.
This could mean asking candidates to include their pronouns on their CV or running a virtual interview process and advertising home working options.
3 – Tackle tradition
Traditional recruitment isn’t very inclusive.
So if your process isn’t up to date, please look into revamping it!
If your company hires people due to nepotism, doesn’t advertise salary bands and offers unpaid internships then your process and values might need a second glance.
If we ignore our process because ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it‘ or ‘it’s been like this for years and works just fine‘, we’re at a severe disadvantage to companies with up to date recruitment strategies.
4 – Trial a blind hiring process
We love blind hiring because it’s so effective.
Running a blind hiring process is the best way to ensure that your unconscious bias has no say.
Our bling hiring process relies on a task first and foremost. We help our employers create a great application task that’s built on a day-to-day aspect of the role.
If it’s in marketing, this could be writing a social media post. If it’s in customer support, it could be a mock demo call.
We then give this out to as many candidates as we can. Then we wait!
The top candidates will give their task back to us before the deadline. We make sure that every task is anonymised and then hand them over to the employer.
The employer then picks their top tasks and those successful candidates make it to the interview stage.
As our blind process relies on a task, it sets a great precedent for the entire process. It ensures that our employers make their decisions based on the skill of the applicants – not on the way they look or speak.
We really recommend that you trial a similar method for your next role – the candidates that show the most skill might surprise you!
5 – Create a hiring committee
Another great way to reduce bias is to create a diverse interviewing panel. When you give the diverse people in your organisation the decision-making power, more diverse decisions will be made – obviously.
And showing a diverse front to prospective new hires is always a good idea.
Having diverse decision-makers on the hiring front will help you review your process and create a better one while amplifying their voices too.
6 – Keep questioning
And finally, keep reading, listening and questioning the way things are done!
There is always room to grow and learn, especially when it comes to diversity, hiring and being an ally.
And if you’re in a leadership position, ask for feedback from your employees and candidates when you can. It’s easy to forget about asking for regular feedback but it’s essential if you want to be a role model for diversity and make a change in your business.
If you need any help creating a fair blind hiring process or finding top talent for your small business, sign up to DigitalGrads.