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Can we set hiring quotas to meet diversity goals?

Selecting a candidate (and excluding others) based on the candidate's, sex, race, disability or other protected class can result in illegal discrimination. Employers should always seek to hire the most qualified candidate and choosing a less qualified individual over another simply to meet a diversity goal is problematic.

However, employers should seek to increase the diversity of the entire candidate pool by reaching out to groups that are underrepresented in the company and taking intentional actions to encourage individuals from these groups to apply. Employers should look internally to determine which groups to target for recruitment and then consider the following actions:

  • Place job ads in sources (e.g., websites and e-newsletters) consulted by minority groups and targeted to a particular audience. Examples include the Association of Latino Professionals for America and the Black Career Women’s Network.

  • Take advantage of specialized job boards that promote diversity, such as or
  • Introduce your company to local minority and disability groups and universities and ask for assistance in sharing your job opportunities. See Diversity Recruiting Outreach Letter.
  • Encourage current employees to refer diverse candidates to your company and consider increasing referral bonus amounts for candidates in underrepresented groups. See Employee Referral Program Procedures.
  • Revise job descriptions and job ad language to remove terms that could dissuade underrepresented candidates from applying. For example, use gender-neutral wording to appeal to all candidates.
  • Remove education requirements unless they are absolutely necessary for the job.
  • Highlight your company's diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) values on your website and in social media. Consider creating a diversity video with employee testimonials of DE&I in practice at your workplace.
  • Offer benefits that may appeal to a particular group, such as family-friendly flexible schedules or domestic partner insurance coverage.
  • Include a statement on job ads that applications from minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, etc. are welcomed.
  • Join diverse groups on LinkedIn or other sites to establish candidate relationships that can later help find diverse applicants.
  • Implement blind hiring practices where candidate names, addresses, etc. are not revealed until after the initial screening process.
  • Where skills are easily teachable, consider recruiting more for attitude, fit, values, etc. and offer on-the-job training.  


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