Applying Diversity Recruiting In the Workplace (w/o Harm)

Jenn Tardy

Search and staffing firm owners often face the challenge of applying Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) related recruiting practices in their businesses. To navigate the pitfalls more easily, it may be wise to seek advice and guidance from a training and consulting firm that specializes in diversity recruiting. However, focusing on application without considering impact often results in harm, and organizations should focus equally on not doing harm. To accomplish this, you should implement appropriate training for your recruiters and hiring managers. Note that the situation can be different for independent recruiters compared to corporate or in-house recruiters.


Most people aim to ensure they have it all correct and have complied with the appropriate rules. So, how do you help recruiters talk to their clients about DEI related recruiting? Independent recruiters must approach their clients differently because the biggest challenge they face is potentially losing the client. But sometimes, in doing this work of increasing diversity, you must have tough conversations.


One of the philosophies we suggest is calling in a hiring manager as opposed to calling them out. There are people who call others out on these issues, and that’s okay if it’s their way of doing business. The art of ‘calling in’ your client, typically the hiring manager, suggests that you lead the conversation with positive intent. Ask yourself, “if I know that my client isn’t intentionally trying to create harm, what could the real problem be?”


Next is to ask questions until you genuinely understand their intent for whatever direction they took that created a hurdle for your candidates to move through the process. Once you are both clear about their intent, you can begin discussing the impact of diversity recruitment.


For example, your conversation with a client might go: “Okay. I hear you. You wanted to ask these questions to get to the root of the problem, but here’s how your approach is impacting your ability to increase representation within your organization.” You know that the initiative to increase diversity is important to the client, so you are positioning yourself as their advisor—someone trying to help them reach their goal versus someone trying to stifle it.


These strategies should be shared with recruiters to help them assist their client organizations in increasing diversity. With a positive intent and a desire to include them in the conversation, you can make better staffing decisions. When you’re talking to your client, make sure you are speaking in terms of their goals. So, it’s important in the beginning to understand their positioning, appetite, and level of interest.


If they are genuinely interested in working to increase diversity within the organization, they would have mentioned it to you in the beginning. So, later, when you run into a hurdle while reaching the client’s goals, you can cite their own goals to help navigate the conversation. With this strategy, you are less likely to lose the client. We all need to understand the importance of the client’s goals to better work together to reach them. For independent recruiters, there are many dilemmas that may arise when working with hiring managers. Talking these issues out and discussing them in a positive context can lead to the successful application of DEI.


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1Jenn Tardy, Owner and Founder, Jennifer Tardy Consulting (aka “Team JTC”)

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Owner and Founder, Jennifer Tardy Consulting (aka “Team JTC”)