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5 Tips To Diversify Your Candidate Pool

diverse set of Salesforce employees linking arms

Create a diverse work culture by bringing in diverse candidates from different walks of life. Here are five ways to diversify your candidate pool today.

As the global workforce population continues to evolve and become more diverse, countless studies have shown the benefits of building workforces that reflect society. Diversity leads to smarter and more innovative teams where everyone can find greater work satisfaction. In that spirit, at Salesforce, we are committed to building a workplace that reflects the communities we serve — guided by our core value of equality.

So how can we all do our part to build companies that look like society and where everyone feels seen, valued, heard and empowered to succeed?  An important part of any hiring process is having a standardized and inclusive process. At Salesforce, we have our own inclusive hiring practices in which we strive to have all our recruiting and hiring managers trained in as a way to mitigate bias, increase fairness, consider equity, and reach the widest and most diverse talent pool possible.

While the data shows most companies struggle with representation, we know that there is luminary talent everywhere. So, how do we find it? We all have a role to play in building a culture of equality and one key step is diversifying our candidate pools. As the saying goes, “Talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not.” We can all do our part to ensure everyone has access and opportunities to succeed in our companies and industries.

When increasing the diversity of your candidate pool, keep in mind diversity goes beyond what is visible such as race and gender. Consider the unseen — sexual orientation, educational background, learning disabilities, and more. Strive to create a workplace that reflects the diversity found in the community surrounding your organization.

Here are some tips to diversify your candidate pool

1. Evaluate your job descriptions

Words matter, especially in a job description. It can either deter or invite underrepresented groups to apply. An underrepresented group refers to any community whose representation in an organization is disproportionately less than their representation in society. This can include, women, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ+, Black, Latinx, and indigenous communities.

Some factors to consider when drafting an inclusive job description

Level of education — Ask yourself, “Does the candidate need a four-year college degree, or can we say ‘relevant work experience’ instead?” This widens access to tech (and other industries) for a myriad of folks who’ve gained relevant experience in a “non-traditional” way.

For example, this could include a veteran who underwent an intensive coding bootcamp, but does not have a Computer Science degree, or a person returning to society following incarceration who learned how to become a Salesforce Administrator through Trailhead and has since had an incredible career in the ecosystem.

Terminology — Language is an important part of connecting to all candidates and widening access. Consider any metaphors, terms, or colloquialisms used. Are they biased, stereotypical, gendered, or exclusive in any way? Often times our intentions are positive and we don’t mean to offend or exclude others in our job descriptions, but the impact — how others perceive our words — is what matters. The easy question to ask is: would this statement, word, or noun make someone feel like they belong? Or does it make them feel like they’re in an “other” group? To avoid these common mistakes, always have a diverse set of eyes review job descriptions and consider using a tool that scans for biased words and phrases.

Requirements — Include “must-haves” for the role and move “nice-to-haves” to either preferred skills or remove them completely. Studies show women will hesitate to apply for a job unless they meet 100% of the job requirements, compared to men who will apply even if they only meet 60%.

2. Build relationships with your employee resource groups

BOLDforce, our Equality group for our Black community
and allies, hosted a networking event in February 2019.

Many companies have employee resource groups (ERGs) and at Salesforce, we have 12 ERGs or Equality Groups as we call them. These are employee-led and employee-organized groups centered around common life experiences or backgrounds, and their allies. Tap into the vast networks and connections ERGs have in your industry. Consider hosting external, cross-company events with their peers for recruiters to meet new talent.

Don’t forget to invite each attendee to bring a guest, even if they may not be actively job searching. This way, you’re always growing your network and talent pool. Informal events like these also give future potential candidates an inside look into your company culture.

3. Explore workforce training and skill development opportunities

Workforce development programs aim to skill-up the current workforce and create nontraditional pathways into tech careers. Such programs give participants the opportunity to learn and train on the job which ultimately cultivates talent to build stronger, more diverse, and innovative teams.

Instead of relying on job applicants as your main source of hiring — consider partnering with a local program and explore how your company can create more access to opportunity in the tech industry. As an example, Year Up and Genesys Works are two workforce development organizations Salesforce partners closely with to find great talent. We also have our Futureforce program where we hire interns and grads across the globe for different business segments.

4. Highlight inclusive benefits

Does your organization offer paid parental leave, childcare subsidies, fertility benefits, paid family sick time, flexible time off, and paid volunteer time off? If not, consider updating your benefits package to ensure they’re inclusive of all potential employees. Once you have these, be sure to highlight inclusive benefits that welcome employees as part of your organizations’ commitment to creating inclusive and diverse workplaces for all.

A study by Harvard Business Review noted gender differences regarding benefits. Men were more likely than women to value team-bonding events, retreats, and free food. Women are more likely to prefer free fitness and yoga classes, while men are more likely to prefer an on-site gym and free gym memberships. Providing a mix of benefits that are both inexpensive and highly sought after among job seekers, can give a competitive edge to businesses that can’t afford high salaries and pricier job perks, the study found.

A Salesforce study found that 80% of business professionals believe businesses have a responsibility to look beyond profit and make a positive impact on society. A benefit we offer all Salesforce employees is seven paid days of volunteer time off (VTO) per year – and this starts on day one, when we bring new hires out into their communities to give back.

5. Expand your network

Salesforce employees in San Francisco

This may feel like an obvious one but worth noting. If your company is like most companies in that it relies heavily on employee referrals, and your employee composition is fairly homogeneous, then you may perpetuate a homogenous workforce. Search for job boards and third party organizations that specifically connect underrepresented minority groups such as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, Black and African American, Latinx, Indigenous, and women, with jobs.

Another important way to expand your network is by partnering and sourcing luminary candidates from universities that represent diverse talent. For example, Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions in the U.S.

Consider content you can share with potential candidates. Engagement with candidates does not need to be solely event-based — but think of hosting webinars, ebooks and blogs. We are intentional about curating content for everyone to help ensure all candidates can see themselves reflected in our brand by elevating diverse heroes and allies who are driving change. We also believe we have an opportunity to create content that empowers our candidates to succeed at every stage of their interview process. By catering content to topics candidates are eager to learn about, you enable success in their current and future role.

Inclusive hiring begins with all of us. Even if you’re not in recruiting, consider who is in your network that may be transitioning back into the workforce, or experiencing a career change. Give back to your community and pay it forward. We are all on this journey together to equality for all — learn more about our Inclusive Leadership Practices and how to champion equality in business:

If you’re interested in joining Salesforce in creating a workplace that reflects the communities in which we live and work, apply today.

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