A Guide to Improving Your Diversity Recruiting Strategy
The Value of Diversity Hiring
It’s hard enough to hire the right people in today’s market, so why limit your talent pool? You may be doing it without realizing.
People from different backgrounds bring a wider variety of information, opinions, and perspectives. Diverse teams bring fresh ideas and incorporate new perspectives that tackle problems from a number of different angles. But even more than that, companies with diverse leadership tend to have better innovation and financial performance.
Diversity and inclusion efforts positively affect financial performance and increase employee satisfaction. McKinsey found companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 33 percent more likely to have greater financial returns. And a report by Glassdoor shows that "A full two-thirds (67 percent) of active and passive job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers."
The Military Reflects Diversity Hiring in Action
America’s melting-pot society is reflected in today’s military. Smart companies include veterans in their diversity recruiting strategy to create a balanced workforce. The most recent data shows that nearly one-third (31 percent) of active duty members identified themselves as a racial minority, compared to data from 2010. That number grew from 31.4 percent of enlisted members and 22 percent of officers in 2010 to 32.7 percent of enlisted members and 23.5 percent of officers in 2018.
Diversity in the military will keep growing
Veteran population projections from the Department of Veterans Affairs predict minority veteran groups to grow from 23.2 percent of the total veteran population in 2017, to 32.8 percent by 2037. Hispanic veterans are set to grow to 11.2 percent by 2037.
More Women Serving
Women make up 16.5 percent of the active duty military. Compared to 2000, the percentage of female active duty enlisted members and officers rose from 14.7 percent and 14.4 percent in 2000 to 16.2 percent and 18.0 percent in 2018.
Companies that hire veterans gain a diverse workforce with a valuable array of advantages: tax breaks for hiring veterans, military occupational specialties (mos military), and soft skills that are becoming more sought-after by CEOs all the time. Additionally, many veterans have worked with different populations across the globe during their service and bring a greater understanding of diverse cultures to the workplace.
More than 200,000 veterans leave the armed forces annually, providing a pipeline of eager talent ready to take their skills and experience to the next level.
Consider these factors as your organization crafts a diversity hiring strategy:
1. Employee Resource Groups Foster Diversity and Inclusion
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) increase employee engagement and make a large organization seem smaller and more comfortable.
For veterans who joined the military immediately after high school, transitioning from military service to their first civilian job can be overwhelming and stressful. Good ERGs foster a sense of belonging and help re-create the camaraderie that many veterans cite as the highlight of their military service. Together, these elements build organizational loyalty. They’re also good for leadership by keeping management apprised of issues that matter to team members.
No two employee resource groups look alike. Starting one doesn’t have to be expensive or formal. They can include:
Access: a safe place to exchange information and ask questions. This can take place by conducting meetings or virtual chats.
- Mentoring availability
- Social gatherings
- Community outreach events
- Educational opportunities
ERGs help new hires adjust to a different work environment, while also providing tools that will help them grow professionally, foster loyalty, share experiences, and become better leaders.
2. Does Your Brand Communicate Your Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion?
Recruiting has undergone a seismic shift. Candidates must be courted in much the same way that customers are. In a cutthroat recruiting landscape, a company’s brand and message must be compelling. The right branding can inform diverse candidates, including potential veteran hires, that your organization will value their talents and contributions.
Successfully defining what makes your culture unique can serve as a pillar of a diversity hiring strategy. In fact, it can be a deciding factor in whether a qualified candidate signs on with you or goes to a competitor.
What does the career section of your website look like? For example, does it include a section dedicated to veterans? Will candidates from a variety of backgrounds be able to recognize themselves? Post interviews, videos, and stories about veterans and diverse hires working successfully in your company. Use these resources in social media and marketing efforts.
What is it like for a candidate navigating the hiring and recruitment process at your company? Does follow up occur quickly? Are questions answered? Do diverse candidates see themselves represented at your company? Negative candidate experiences travel quickly through cyberspace and take on a life of their own. Disgruntled job seekers often take to social media to complain, “I applied, and nobody called me back”.
3. Leverage Your Employee Resource Group to Promote Your Brand
A strong ERG can be a great branding tool that exemplifies your diversity recruiting strategy. How?
Bring ERG members into the interview process to talk about the activities and purpose of the ERG. Feature ERG activities prominently on your firm’s career page and social media channels. Publicize ERG events on your careers page and on social media accounts. Include the following:
- Stories about giving back to the community
- Social events
- Spotlight on diverse employees
- ERG Mission Statement
- Diversity Vision Statement
4. Enhance Your Employee Referral Program
Happy employees are walking billboards. Word of mouth is a powerful tool for smart employers to mine and maximize. Ask team members to provide referrals and to share opportunities with their friends and social networks. Veterans, for example, comprise a tight-knit community that looks out for its own and shares information and opportunities.
Rakuna suggests: “To capitalize on your employees’ network, bolster employee-referral recruiting programs at your organization, including a deliberate message about the business need for a diverse workforce and the importance your company places on diverse referrals. Communicate your organization’s goals and where you are in the process of building a more diverse and inclusive workforce with your employees.”
5. Let Professionals Help You Meet Your Diversity and Inclusion Goals
Manufacturer Proseal America turned to the veteran community to expand its service team. The company was struggling to secure quality technicians with the right mix of experience and skills. Enter RecruitMilitary.
Neal Wheeler is a National Account Executive at RecruitMilitary and a retired captain in the U.S. Army. “The culture fit that Proseal wanted was people who enjoy being a member of a team and working together. They wanted folks who work well with others and share their knowledge and experience. Those skills are inherent in most folks coming out of the military,” he said.
RecruitMilitary consistently delivered a flow of candidates that met Proseal’s objectives with candidates who quickly jumped on the fast track to success. The first placement was a helicopter mechanic retiring after 20 years of military service. Not content to settle into an easier career, he displayed at attitude and drive that allowed him to move quickly through Proseal’s tiered ranking system, lapping other service technicians in the process.
Hiring veterans helped Proseal America earn the Gold Medallion Award from the U.S. Department of Labor given to employers committed to recruiting, employing and retaining America's veterans. Jones credits winning the award in part to Proseal’s partnership with BMI.
6. Secure Support for Diversity Hiring from the Top Down
Infecting organizational leaders with the vision of what a solid diversity recruiting strategy can mean for the organization is critical.
Back to the ProSeal story: After deciding that hiring veterans was the way to achieve Proseal’s hiring goals, the next task was convincing Proseal’s leadership team that using a recruiting services firm made sense.
“Initially they didn’t want to go in that direction because the company had never recruited through a staffing group. Basically, I showed them how it could work in a very cost-effective way,” said Ted Jones, Human Resources Coordinator for Proseal. He convinced company leadership that a high-quality military hire who could learn quickly would be able to advance faster through Proseal’s four-level tiered system for field service technicians, resulting in a higher ROI for the organization.
“A year into the process, using the firm is not even a discussion point anymore. A few months after we hired our first candidate, our CEO said, ‘Oh, this was such a good idea. How do we get more?’” said Jones. “Our leadership just loves it because it’s worked out so well for us. They’ve been great to work with for a company of our size.”
7. Retention, Retention, Retention
Knowing how to hire veterans is great. Knowing how to retain them is even better, and a lot cheaper. With 42 days as an average time to fill an open role at a cost per hire of $4,129 (Society for Human Resource Management), why not try to keep your diverse hires engaged and happy?
Try these tips to keep veteran hires engaged and thriving:
Let Them Do Their Thing. Veterans thrive when they are tasked with meeting and surpassing goals without anyone looking over their shoulders.
Prioritize Development and Education. Veterans are accustomed to carving out career paths for themselves and their teams. Even a small unit leader is tasked with the professional development of his or her subordinates, including leadership development. Companies that invest in growth help employees visualize a potential future with the organization.
Foster Teamwork. Many veteran’s favorite part about military service was the teamwork, sense of camaraderie, and dedication to a common goal. Replicating that environment builds loyalty and retention.
Reward Accomplishment. Public appreciation is a cornerstone of military service. Rewarding accomplishments doesn’t have to come with a formal ceremony, but it’s a cost-effective way to thank top performers.
Encourage Mentorship. Mentoring is a key part of leadership development in the military. One former Marine Corps Sergeant credits his career success to mentorship and the relationships it gave him. “None of my success has been because I applied for a job or was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “All of it came from heeding the advice of mentors.” Want to support mentorship but don't have the resources? You might want to consider a mentoring program through American Corporate Partners (ACP).
Make yours a culture that fosters collaboration, advancement, and recognition.
8. Avoid Unconscious Biases
Are misconceptions keeping quality, diverse candidates from coming to work for you? Take a hard look at some of your processes. Are they welcoming? Could they potentially exclude veterans or candidates you’d want to attract as part of your diversity hiring strategy?
Fill Keyword Gaps. Military language and acronyms can be confusing and don’t always lend themselves to easy explanations.
Look Beyond Titles. Because the military is a 100% self-promoting organization, titles are chosen are based on career milestones and time in service. They do not necessarily reflect the actual role or leadership attributes. This may require a deeper conversation about the applicable experience.
Find Common Ground Sometimes veterans can’t speak freely about what they did in the military. Instead, consider how characteristics like discipline, loyalty, dedication, and leadership play a key part in keeping information secure.
Michael Paciga, Director of Locke Supply Talent and Recruitment Paciga encourages recruiters to probe for commonality even when candidates cannot talk about their experiences due to security restrictions. “You always go into interviews and say, ‘Tell me about a time….,’ and an individual like that really cannot. But you must break that down and find common ground that you can talk about. Be able to pivot and do a deeper level of probing,” he added.
One candidate’s military background was highly classified, yet Paciga successfully articulated how his skills could translate to a career with Locke Supply. “His job required commitment, compassion, diligence, and the ability to secure information in a timely manner. A lot of that really translates well to what we do every day. Without giving me anything, he was able to give me everything!” he said.
Consider Training and Experience Although military training often doesn’t carry a civilian equivalency, it often goes above and beyond what civilian schooling provides.
Don’t Buy into Stereotypes Perceptions that veterans won’t work well in a corporate setting because they are too rigid/formal/hierarchical come from society, social media, movies and television, and are usually myths. The reality is that the military is a diverse workplace with all kinds of team sizes and compositions.
Avoid "Reserve Bias" “What if we hire Sharon, and she has to deploy?” Veterans are usually eager to work around Reserve and Guard obligations, and employers still get great value by hiring them.
9. Re-Evaluate Job Descriptions
Define your opportunities to maximize inclusivity. Start by revisiting your job descriptions: are they clear? Does the job title accurately reflect the tasks someone will perform? Would you want to apply? Keep these factors in mind with respect to veteran candidates:
Avoid Jargon. Acronyms are commonplace in certain industries, but not everyone understands them. That can be alienating, and if candidates don’t get the lingo, they won’t know to engage in the opportunity. Switching to common language will resonate with a broader audience, including veterans.
Describe Tasks and Goals. The military is goal oriented. By communicating what needs to be done and why, candidates can picture themselves being successful in the role.
Define Ranks and Levels. The military does not have vice-presidents or directors. Those terms can also carry different meanings across different industries. The solution? Describe duties and areas of responsibility and who the role reports to in order to clarify seniority.
Rethink “Must-Haves”. Is a “mastery” of that platform necessary? Asking for familiarity with contact management systems instead is more inclusive, and veterans are used to learning new systems and processes.
10. Who's Running the Show
Who will lead your diversity recruiting strategy? A program champion sends the message that you’re not creating a temporary initiative or riding a wave of inclusion. This leader should display passion about working with veterans and expanding the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Consider ways to incorporate your diversity hiring strategy into every aspect of your business. With careful planning and a commitment to inclusion and retention, you can make and market your organization as a place where employees from all backgrounds enjoy fulfilling careers.
At RecruitMilitary, we hire military as part of our diversity hiring strategy because we are veterans, too. Our solutions can help your organization demonstrate your commitment to attract, hire and retain these talented professionals.
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Want to read leadership tips, using military principles? Army veteran and CEO Tim Best has a regular column, "Best Practices" on hiring from the military community.*