Diversity Through The Looking Glass

Workplaces increasingly realize how important diversity measures, missions and values are, but one factor they might not consider is how those look from the outside to prospecting job seekers. Glassdoor.com, an online job review database aiming for better workplace transparency, surveyed the extent of diversity efforts as felt by employees.

Two out of every three active and passive job seekers (employed but looking at job postings) from a sample of 1,081 people indicate they evaluate the diversity of the company’s workforce when they look into applying. The numbers were stronger for minority respondents. Another find was that 57 percent of workers find their companies don’t do enough to increase diversity, but opinions split over who is in the best position to augment it.

Mariah DeLeon, vice president of people at Glassdoor
Mariah DeLeon, vice president of people at Glassdoor

Additionally, not everyone surveyed is certain of what measures their company is taking to increase diversity within — only one in three. Similarly, minorities generally are more aware of their companies’ diversity initiatives.

Mariah DeLeon, vice president of people at Glassdoor, brings 20 years of human resources experience to the company, working as vice president of global human resources at Innovative Interfaces prior. DeLeon discusses the implications of the study and gives tips on how a company might grow diversity awareness within, as well as how to make that more visible to people on the outside.

Below are edited excerpts from her interview with Diversity Executive.

Why might the diversity factor be important for job seekers right now?

I think diversity has always been important to job seekers. However, they’re not always in a position to make it an important consideration in their job choice. With two-thirds saying that it’s important when choosing a place to work, we’re seeing that shifting. Many job seekers are now feeling the effects of a recovering employment market, giving them more choice in where they work. When job seekers feel more in demand and have more control over where they work, they are more likely to include considerations such as diversity in their job choices. We’ve also found that culture and values are consistently in the top five most important things to job seekers when they’re considering a job, and diversity makes up a significant a part of company culture and an indicator of values.

The statistics from the survey clearly show diversity is becoming more and more important at work. How could recruiters work towards bettering the diverse pool of candidates coming to them?

The first thing most companies need to do is look internally. The survey revealed that 57 percent of people thought their employers should be doing more to increase diversity at their workplace. You need to evaluate your workforce and executive team demographics, figure out where the gaps are, then let your employees know so they’re aware that diversity is important to the company. Successful companies create internal programs, resources and networking groups by listening to employees and supporting efforts they are interested in. This not only supports diversity, but also can encourage employees to refer and attract top talent, and has the added benefit of creating a tighter community within your workforce.

When you’re ready to implement external initiatives, you should recruit for diversity by targeting your audience. Diversity initiatives should be more than rainbow-faced photos on your careers page. You probably already know to target groups at networking associations but are you taking advantage of the same targeting online? Today’s ad targeting technology allows you to target specific groups for diversity hiring with job ads or display campaigns that not only reach your target audience, but also brand your company as one that cares about diversity.

The most important thing is to be as transparent as possible. Communicate with your employees and candidates about your initiatives. The survey found that only one-third of people polled said they knew of any diversity initiatives where they work. You may be doing wonderful work to increase your workforce diversity, but if your employees don’t know, you’re missing out on an army of people to deliver the message that your company cares about diversity. Your employees can be your best evangelists if they know what efforts your company is doing to increase diversity.

Who could be most responsible for increasing diversity at the workplace?

When we asked who people thought was in the best position to increase diversity, the top three responses were hiring managers (45 percent), the CEO (42 percent) and HR (40 percent). That said, nearly one in four people (23 percent) said that the employees themselves were responsible for increasing diversity. This reflects the importance that employees have in hiring, be it through referrals, talking to friends about the workplace environment, or through online reviews and social media discussions of their employer. In addition, 21 percent named the company’s board of directors and just 3 percent said President Obama was responsible.

What is trending right now with diversity?

Transparency is becoming a key trend. More and more companies are reviewing the diversity of their workforce. In the past companies would have kept that information to the executive level but they’re now sharing it with employees and even with the outside world. We’ve seen a number of tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, each of whom employ tens of thousands of workers, release their diversity numbers publicly this year. Now what we need to see more of is how companies are making changes to improve their numbers and the results of those initiatives.

What can a workplace do to make sure their diversity is visible to people looking from the outside?

If a diverse workforce is important to your company — and this most recent survey says it should be — celebrate it.

Practice and encourage transparency. Companies should be communicating internally and externally about the makeup of their workforce and their diversity initiatives in their job postings, in their advertising, and in candidate interviews.

Remember that your employees are a significant part of your employer brand, which is what people think about your company as an employer. Candidates may look for signs of diversity on your web site and in your online profiles, but they will also talk to their friends and read reviews on Glassdoor to find out how diverse a company is.

Make sure your employees know about your initiatives. Involve them in as many efforts as you can. It will not only get employees more involved and more invested in your company, but it will help you recruit even more top talent.