Why Your RPO Needs to Practice Diverse and Inclusive Hiring

Time to Read: 6.7 minutes

Updated: August 9, 2023

We’ve written before about diversity, but it is essential to stress again the importance of having an inclusive workforce.

According to research from McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have above-average financial returns. When it comes to gender, inclusive companies are 15 percent more likely to generate greater revenue.

So, diversity is good for company profits. But why? A study from Deloitte found that employees who perceive their organizations as committed to and supportive of diversity will feel more included. Those employees, in turn, tend to experience an 83 percent increase in their ability (or perhaps willingness) to innovate.

While the numbers show that a diverse workforce is good for business, not all companies have realized this. Consider a survey from Glassdoor that found more than 50 percent of respondents said their employers should be doing more to increase the diversity in their organizations.

Excuses abound as to why. A report by SHRM found that 41 percent of respondents cited being too busy to enforce diversity standards.

We acknowledge just how hard it is to find time and energy to bring about changes in an organization. In this post, however, we argue that diversity is one such change that needs to happen immediately.

Companies struggling with a lack of resources may look to outsource their recruiting needs. When doing so, they need to ensure their RPO partner has a record of delivering a diverse array of candidates.

Here are a few reasons to ensure your RPO partner is up to scratch with its diversity credentials.

RPOs Can Help Root Out Biases

Steven Dashiell, at Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, reports that an inclusive and diverse work culture leads to a collaborative work environment, a more attractive employer brand, a greater sense of belonging and stronger engagement among employees.

To ensure these diverse candidates have the chance of joining an organization, RPO vendors need to root out their own hiring biases and those of their clients. As Dashiell argues, while we like to think we are immune to personal bias, :the truth is most of us harbor some level of bias unknowingly.”

Potential bias needs to be avoided at all costs, writes Rachel Miller at Wavelength. If any step along the way disproportionately cuts out marginalized groups, then something has gone wrong.

It’s essential to adjust processes to be inclusive. An RPO partner can guide clients through an inclusive and diverse hiring strategy to help them be more thoughtful when assessing candidates. A diverse team will tend to attract more diverse hires, which will continue to reinforce an inclusive hiring strategy.

Diversity is also empowering. Miller says being a woman in a male-dominated setting can feel isolating, whereas “diverse companies let their employees direct energy toward being their happiest and most productive selves.”

The right RPO partner is aware of the empowerment that diversity brings and will help organizations realize this too.

Louise Petty, at High Speed Training, says it’s important to be aware that while companies may not actively be barring certain people from applying for a job, there may be hidden barriers that inadvertently create this result.

A good RPO partner will be able to make these hidden barriers seen and bring about an effective strategy to hire diverse candidates.

Petty argues why this is important:

“Workplace diversity means that your staff members can relate to every one of your customers. If you have a range of people with a range of opinions then it makes it much easier to target a wider range of clients.”

Diversity Is Good For Your Employer Brand

But it’s not just about getting more customers. A diverse workforce makes a company more attractive to prospective employees, too.

Benefits such as a daycare option for children, flexible working hours and time off for religious observances will open up job opportunities to more people than you can possibly imagine, Petty writes.

Management consultant Joao Araujo argues that diversity is not only a vital part of social responsibility, but essential for building a strong employer brand.

RPO partners are able to dedicate time and resources to building their client’s employer brands in many different ways. However, diversity is a powerful component of this branding strategy. An RPO that does not live the diversity ethos will struggle to implement this at their client’s organization.

The Value of Diverse Perspectives

The potential power of differing opinions and viewpoints is huge. This is what Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey mean in 2015 when he told the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: “Any time you bring together diverse perspectives, it just creates a bunch of potential that you weren’t really expecting.”

This is why an RPO partner that not only boasts its own diverse team but is focused on sourcing diverse candidates is key to your organization’s success.

If people are created equal, then it is logical to assume that talent is created equally. Can you select enough talent from a homogeneous group to run a company well?

Luke Visconti
CEO of DiversityInc

Perhaps this is what Randy Lewis, former SVP of supply chain and logistics at Walgreens, was thinking. Implementing a policy in 2007, the organization actively began to hire staff with physical or cognitive disabilities and chose instead to alter the warehouses to accommodate employees’ needs.

The result was a huge success. Across Walgreens’ 21 distribution centers, more than 10 percent of its employees are disabled.

We mentioned Lewis before in our previous post about diversity. But so successful and encouraging was Walgreens’ policy that it’s worth repeating.

The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusivity

While it is essential to be diverse in hiring strategies, author and HR consultant Jennifer Brown argues that diversity is insufficient on its own. Diversity concerns “who’s being recruited, who’s being promoted, who we’re tracking from the traditional characteristics and identities of gender and ethnicity, and sexual orientation and disability—inherent diversity characteristics that we’re born with.”

Inclusion concerns the lived experience that makes diversity valuable. “Inclusion is the the how, the behaviors that welcome and embrace diversity,” Brown says.

Hiring for diversity without having a proper strategy will not be good for business. This is where an RPO partner is useful. It can help organizations that want a more diverse workforce avoid making bad recruitment decisions, Andrew Blackman argues at Envato Tuts+. There is no sense in hiring the wrong candidate for the sake of diversity goals.

Not only is this bad for business, but it’s also “patronizing to the person you hire, it can cause resentment among other employees, and it won’t help your business move forward,” Blackman says.

Organizations with a diverse in-house recruitment team will be well placed to make the right hires. However, as Andrew Greenberg argues at Contract Recruiter, many employers and hiring managers don’t know how to find diverse candidates or don’t have time to change their recruiting process. These are the people who are best served by RPO partners.

RPO professionals, Greenberg says, can help with individual parts of the recruiting process such as sourcing diverse candidates or handle the whole recruitment process to integrate diversity initiatives.

They have greater access to pipelines of vetted diverse candidates as well as the resources to attend minority job fairs and community events.

In closing, diversity is important for the bottom line as well as team morale. But it is increasingly an issue of compliance, too. As society evolves, more will be expected from business. Compliance is notoriously difficult to navigate and is another area where RPO partners add value, which we wrote about here.

Perhaps the most powerful reason to have a diverse workforce and an inclusive hiring strategy comes from author and digital strategist Mark S. Luckie: “Without a variety of voices contributing ideas, the workplace becomes a homogenized environment where potential brilliance may never be achieved. Diversity should rightly be seen as a benefit to growth, not an obstruction to avoid.”

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Shanil Kaderali

Shanil Kaderali is a strategic talent acquisition leader with global experience. He's managed and led recruitment functions at companies like Cisco Systems, Symantec, WellPoint, as well as having worked for several Baker's Dozen RPO winners.

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