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Status quo diversity efforts need a refresh, experts say
The American Heart Association (AHA) experienced a 400 percent increase in its diversity application-to-hire conversion rate after it launched microsites targeted to diverse candidates in 2014.
In addition to implementing the niche sites, the Dallas-based public health organization hired a diversity recruiting specialist, set up partnerships with hundreds of local diversity organizations across the U.S., and created a career fair advertised to diverse communities.
All of this was done to go beyond just giving lip service to diversity hiring and to make meaningful, measurable gains, said Michael Goldberg, former director of talent acquisition at AHA.
"When it comes time to build diversity programs for recruiting purposes, most people take the 'if you build it, they will come' methodology, which is often limited to adding a diversity statement on their website and hopes that diverse candidates will just storm the gates," he said. "Unfortunately, it just does not work that way. Diversity recruitment is in many people's minds 'something we have to do' rather than something ingrained in and valued by the organization."
Employers' diversity efforts are primed for a refresh, agreed Katie Gechijian, lead consultant for Proactive Talent Strategies, based in Birmingham, Ala. "Our diversity efforts today are an unfinished work. We as recruiters feel it. The key to making the workplace more diverse is on our shoulders. As a sourcer, I know how to reach out to diverse individuals and try to attract them to the company. But the bigger picture is creating a company that diverse people want to join."
Focus on Culture, Tools and People
Employers can improve their diversity hiring efforts tremendously by designing a work environment and sourcing strategies that aim to achieve diversity in thought, experience and geography, Gechijian said.
Ways to achieve this include:
What AHA Did
First on the organization's to-do list was to build the business case to hire a diversity recruiting specialist. The decreases in time-to-fill and lost revenue more than make up for the specialist's compensation when he or she builds relationships with diverse student bodies and partner organizations, Goldberg explained.
The toughest roles to fill at AHA are in fundraising and sales, but he is confident the metrics will improve now that the organization is partnering with over 40 diverse campuses across the United States to build a pipeline of entry-level candidates.
AHA also created a specialized event called Explore the AHA Life Career Fair, to educate attendees on healthy eating and learning CPR, while providing an opportunity for onsite interviews.
"Our advertising focused on attracting different races, veterans and individuals with disabilities," Goldberg said.
AHA made a key investment in 2014 by working with Direct Employers, a nonprofit recruitment marketing company, to build six microsites focused on diverse candidates, veterans and people with disabilities. Direct Employers became partners with SHRM Enterprise Solutions in 2015.
"Since the launch of the SHRM Enterprise Solutions we added two niche career websites focusing on disability and diversity," Goldberg said.
He added that the team started back-linking those sites and placing specific language in job postings about veterans, diversity and inclusion, and individuals with disabilities. Since making these changes, AHA has seen a 15 percent increase in veteran and diverse candidates. "The key is back-linking and making your sites welcoming to the various diverse groups you are trying to attract," he said.
AHA is currently considering additional resources to drive more traffic to these niche career sites through social media marketing, encouraging employees to share the site URLs, sharing links with relevant local organizations, such as student disability and veterans offices, and joining active veteran, disability and diversity groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Gechijian prefers using social networks where prospects are organically participating. "I think rather than trying to target via microsites, a better effort is to truly understand target prospect personas so that recruiters can find authentic ways to participate where their candidates already gather," she said.
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