This is the final post in a blog series that has looked at the competitive advantage inherent in promoting diversity, identifying and eliminating bias, candidate sourcing for diversity and minimizing “covering” to enable your employees to feel free to be authentic at work. In this segment we’ll talk about employment branding to promote diversity in attracting and engaging candidates.
What is branding for diversity?
Recruitment has been taking lessons from marketing for several years now, and you probably already have an employment brand to attract and engage talent. The brand encapsulates your company’s story, and should feature all the things that are important to candidates. A PwC study found that 86% of women and 74% of men feel that an employer’s policy on diversity and inclusion is important to them when considering employment.
That means your employment brand should incorporate your commitment to diversity. This includes language and images about that provide insights into your company Your company’s public faces — website, social media sites, public relations efforts, events, etc. — should reflect the diversity in your company. We’ll talk more, below, about potential content to include.
Why it’s important
First, let’s acknowledge that branding can be a slippery topic. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are important for ethical and social reasons that are deeper than attracting talent. That is, branding comes after your company, from the C-suite down, has made a strong commitment to promoting D&I through progressive actions and programs. It’s the right thing to do.
At the same time, it also can help you connect with candidates and consumers on a more meaningful level. Michelle Manafy, writing on Inc.com, says that personalization is now essential in marketing. When you share your company’s diversity, you can reach a wider audience. Your D&I initiatives probably include hiring more diverse candidates, and diversity branding will support those efforts.
How you do it is important
Before we get to the practical advice, I want to emphasize that doing it is important, but also that how you do it matters. One study reviewed 30 years of diversity efforts and found that most companies follow three approaches:
- The least effective was attempting to change managerial bias through training.
- Somewhat effective have been approaches that attempt to minimize social isolation through mentoring and networking.
- The most effective approach has been to assign specific responsibility to diversity objectives and then hold them accountable.
However, all approaches can be effective, if done thoughtfully. If you position bias or diversity training as remedial or punitive, you’ll fight an uphill battle. Another multi-year review of practices found that making such training compulsive can promote anger and resistance. However, companies that make such training voluntary see clear advances toward diversity goals.
An effective approach is summarized by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev in the Harvard Business Review:
“In analyzing three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. firms and interviewing hundreds of line managers and executives at length, we’ve seen that companies get better results when they ease up on the control tactics. It’s more effective to engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability—the desire to look fair-minded.”
What you can do
Like diversity initiatives in general, branding for diversity requires buy-in and support from executive leadership as well as from multiple departments and teams, including human resources, marketing, sales, and others — the brand should reflect a cross-company commitment to diversity.
Here are some steps in ensuring a strong diversity brand:
- Clarify your diversity vision, including expressing why it is important for all stakeholders.
- Use content that is authentic. On your website and social media pages, include pictures, video and text showing that your company is diverse.
- Share information about diversity initiatives, including goals, participation and results.
- Develop ways to monitor how your brand is being perceived by target audiences; that is, gather input and adjust your efforts accordingly.
- Pay attention to platforms such as Glassdoor and Indeed. While you can find negative comments from the merely disgruntled, you also may find some valuable insights.
- Empower your employees to be brand ambassadors on their own social media networks.
- If you have alliances with groups that promote diversity initiatives, share that information.
- Respond quickly and in a positive manner to incidents or posts that may tarnish your brand.
To sum up this blog series, promoting diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but it also can help your business be more productive and profitable. The issues are broad and complex, but we owe it to ourselves, our companies and our society to address them in a strong, authentic and constructive manner.
By Alyssa Thach, President & COO, Pierpoint International LLC