The labor market is tight across all sectors, making it especially challenging to find people to fill open positions in your education organization. In 2021, during the height of the global pandemic, employees between ages 30 and 45 resigned at the highest rates. Unfortunately, these high levels of turnover have continued in the education sector, creating added stress for teams as they work to accomplish their mission-critical work with fewer staff and on HR teams they struggle to fill roles in a challenging talent landscape.
The boom in remote work has allowed many businesses and institutions to pull job applicants from a wider geographic area, often diversifying the candidate pool and new hires. However, today’s education sector requires a more intentional approach to increase inclusivity and diversity in hiring practices. The increase in remote positions makes it the perfect time for your education organization to improve inclusive recruitment practices.
Ultimately, you don’t want to increase diversity in your education organization for the sake of diversity. Becoming truly inclusive means identifying and reducing bias in sourcing, screening, and shortlisting candidates. Below we discuss the importance of making your recruiting practices more inclusive and diverse, followed by some tips and guidance to help you find and recruit job seekers in more diverse communities, including BIPOC, veterans, disabled, LGBTQ+, and neurodivergent individuals.
Why Make Recruiting Practices More Inclusive and Diverse
Recruitment that focuses on inclusivity and diversity leads to a more inclusive and diverse workplace and culture. A more inclusive and diverse workplace benefits your education organization in multiple ways:
- You can better meet the needs of team members and the students you serve with different backgrounds and perspectives.
- You expand your candidate pool to include people you might not have considered before.
- You create an organizational culture that supports positive relationships and communication between those with differing perspectives.
- A culture that values differences attracts top talent.
- Different backgrounds and viewpoints foster various ideas and methods for reaching your organizational goals.
Ultimately, the benefits of implementing more inclusive and diverse practices come together to make your education organization more effective. In fact, research shows that educational initiatives perform better with diversity and inclusion. This is especially crucial when discussing the impact of diversity and inclusion on closing the opportunity gap, a top priority for many educational organizations. More diverse teams and stakeholders in education organizations often translate to more diverse teachers and classrooms that better reflect the communities they serve.
Specifically, racial and socioeconomic segregation has a strong negative relationship with students’ academic achievement. Integration that is truly inclusive benefits organizations at every level. Racially diverse schools benefit all students, regardless of their background, and often have smaller test score gaps.
How to Make Recruiting Practices More Diversity-Friendly
Making your recruitment practices more inclusive requires some changes and additional steps. Here are various tips you can implement to make it easier to source, hire, and retain diverse team members at your education organization.
1. Audit Your Organization’s Current Hiring Process
You need to have complete information about your current diversity hiring process before you can make any improvements or changes. Examine your process and identify the stages of the process where issues lie. For example, do you have diverse candidate pools, yet your organization’s team members do not reflect this? Or does your talent pool lack diversity? As you audit your current hiring process, find your strengths and the challenges you face. This will help you make the most effective steps to become an inclusive recruiter.
Another part of auditing your organization’s current hiring process is digging deep to identify your own conscious and unconscious biases and have anyone involved in the hiring process do the same. Putting these biases out in the open allows you to do the hard work to mitigate their impact and judge job candidates on their individual merits.
Also, take some time to define what diversity means to your organization. Many people think of race and gender when thinking about being more inclusive, but this is often a narrow interpretation of diversity. As mentioned above, race and socioeconomic status matter, but a wide range of other characteristics and backgrounds help contribute to building a diverse team as well. Evaluate each department and team to understand which groups have strong representation and which groups are underrepresented. Knowing exactly where you need to increase diversity and inclusivity makes it easier to take actionable steps to become an inclusive recruiter.
2. Update Company Descriptions and Job Descriptions for Open Roles
The language you use on your website and job descriptions impact whether a diverse pool of candidates will apply for open positions within your education organization. Attracting more female candidates requires using gender-inclusive descriptions with language that inspires diverse candidates to apply to your open roles. Too many masculine words reveals gender bias and possibly gender inequality in your education organization.
Some words are obviously exclusionary and inappropriate for job descriptions. For example, using words like ninja, stud, and rock star won’t help you attract a diverse pool of talent. Other words that might chase talent away from your description aren’t as easily identified. Carefully review your job title, geographic description, and other verbiages to identify any non-inclusive words and change them to be more inviting.
Your website, company background, and job descriptions allow you to tell job candidates about your organization, mission, and your open position. These are the perfect areas to show talented, diverse job candidates that diversity and inclusion matter to your organization.
3. Assemble Diverse Interview Panels
Job candidates want to see an organization has people like them working there, especially in leadership positions. Interviewees who see someone who looks like them across the table feel inspired and can picture themselves working in an organization. Many candidates find it refreshing, too, because they have had bad experiences working or interviewing at other organizations that do not prioritize diversity and inclusion. A diverse interview panel suggests that an organization has a culture that values diversity and inclusion, attracting diverse talent. People from marginalized groups are far less likely to accept a job offer when none of their interviewers reflect their race or gender. They might wonder why women and people of color are missing from leadership roles that include interviewing and hiring.
You might find it challenging to create a diverse interview panel if your education organization is not diverse. However, it’s not impossible. You need to start somewhere. You will have to think outside the box to assemble your interview panel. Consider all your affiliations, even if they are not current team members. Advisors, consultants, investors, and board members are examples of people likely willing to help. You can invite them to join an interview panel to improve candidate experience and eliminate bias from your decision-making process.
4. Prepare Answers to Interview Questions that Speak to your Diverse & Inclusive Culture
Being prepared for questions that speak to diversity and inclusion increases the chances that job candidates will accept a job at your education organization. Diverse job candidates often ask questions to determine organizational culture as it relates to inclusivity and diversity. You demonstrate you care about diversity and inclusion and establish rapport with job candidates when you have thoughtful answers to their questions during an interview. They want to know if they will feel comfortable and supported in their role. Examples of common questions you might hear include:
- Is there room for career advancement in your organization?
- Do you offer mentoring or career development programs?
- How does your organization serve marginalized, underrepresented, or other diverse groups?
- Do you have affinity groups or employee resource groups for those with special needs?
5. Implement Flexible and Supportive Programs and Policies
Women, people of color, and people from other marginalized groups often face challenges that others do not. Many organizations create policies and programs based on what they think their team members’ lives look like, which sometimes fail to account for these challenges. Implementing thoughtful policies that offer support and flexibility helps attract and retain diverse talent. For example, overly rigid attendance policies make it difficult for working mothers, regardless of their marital status. Women are eight times more likely than men to take care of sick children or handle their day-to-day schedules, taking time out of their workday.
Offering equal holiday time is another example of an inclusive policy that helps with recruiting. Some education organizations follow a traditional school calendar with summers off while most work year-round to serve students and parents. Regardless of the calendar, everyone gets time off for Christmas, which is great for Christians and others who celebrate the cultural aspects of the holiday. Organizations that want to show truly inclusive policies also offer Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu team members the chance to take time off for their religious holidays.
6. Ask for Referrals from Team Members
People often know people like themselves. If your education organization is already diverse, one way to sustain that diversity is to ask your team to make employee referrals. All employees have social and professional networks. People of color on your team, for example, are often a great source of candidates of color for your open positions. This is especially useful for groups that don’t receive as much attention when people talk about inclusiveness and diversity. For example, your older team members and military veterans likely know other veterans who might be qualified for one or more of your open positions.
7. Widen Your Search to Include More Non-linear Career Candidates
Matching a job candidate’s skills on their resume with those you list on your job description does not offer the best or most diverse talent. Many of the most talented, diverse candidates have backgrounds, skills, and passions that are not highly visible. It makes it easy for you to find alignment between someone’s current position and an open role at your organization when the candidate has taken a traditional career path. You can often find candidates in a multitude of industries suited for your non-teaching roles when you cast a wide net. The more you widen your search, the more opportunity you have to include people with diverse backgrounds in your candidate pool.
8. Consider Excluding Names During the Resume Review Process
Blind resume reviews that exclude names are one of the best ways to eliminate bias related to race and gender because identity cues are removed. Several studies have revealed that people with white-sounding names fare better than those with African-American names, all things being equal. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that white job applicants need to send ten resumes for one return call, while black applicants need to send 15 resumes for one callback. The popular book, documentary, and podcast “Freakonomics” also found similar patterns in hiring discrimination based on names.
Unconscious bias can creep into your hiring process and deter any efforts to become more inclusive. Bias leads some recruiters and hiring managers to favor resumes from the majority group, often leaving out people of color and women. However, unconscious bias can impact older candidates, LBGTQ+ candidates, veterans, disabled candidates, and others from protected groups. You can have your team manually hide information to eliminate unconscious bias and help diverse candidates have a fair shot at making it to the next step in your hiring process, but it doesn’t help bias in the interview process. Building diverse candidate pools, assembling a diverse interview panel, and ensuring that each stage of the selection process you design is inclusive can all help ensure you build and retain a diverse team.
Need Help Making Your Recruitment Practices More Inclusive?
Becoming an inclusive recruiter might seem difficult if you haven’t focused on diversity in your education organization. Team members and students alike have better outcomes when exposed to various backgrounds and viewpoints. You can become a more inclusive recruiter by implementing some or all of the suggestions above during your candidate search, interviews, and the rest of the hiring process.
Consider partnering with WorkMonger to make your recruitment practices more inclusive. We work with education organizations to help them find top talent so they reach their goals. We want our placements to reflect the communities they serve, so we value diversity. Over 65 percent of our placements are people of color. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve your recruitment practices to include more diverse candidates.