• Estimated read time: 5 mins
  • Date posted:17/02/2020
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If you exclude 50% of the talent pool, it’s no wonder you find yourself in a war for talent” – Theresa J. Whitmarsh, Executive Director of the Washington State Investment Board.

Hiring for diversity is a no-brainer. Most hiring managers would agree that a diverse team drives innovation, problem-solving skills and better results. Having a workforce comprising different backgrounds and perspectives inevitably translates into a more rounded team, and with that, a better performance. Fresh and exciting ideas can be a real competitive advantage and distinguish you from the competition.

The results speak for themselves. Organisations with diverse teams:

What’s more, with 80% of millennial candidates factoring in an organisations’ stance on diversity before submitting an application, it should be high on your business agenda. Your stance could make or break your chances of attracting top talent.

So how do you go about attracting diverse candidates? Here are 6 tips to increase diversity and attract diverse candidates in your hiring process:

1) Set diversity hiring goals

Goals put everything into perspective and align your overall business strategy. Without setting diversity hiring goals, your diversity hiring initiatives will lack focus.

You should ensure that your goals adhere to SMART principles; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. What is that you want to achieve? Why do you want to attract diverse candidates? Try to be as specific as you can; if your goal is to hire more women in leadership positions, then prescribe a number. You should also consider hiring people of different races, nationalities, ages, religions or even veterans – all of these characters will bring something unique to your organisation.

On the same line of thought, set a realistic timescale. When do you want to achieve this? In six months? Over three years? What do you want your team to look like in five years time?

It’s absolutely vital that this is communicated to all hiring stakeholders: hiring managers, Talent Acquisition, HR and your executive search or recruitment partner. Without briefing them, they won’t translate your diversity hiring goals into real-world action. All hiring managers need to be on the same page and be accountable for their part to play in the hiring process.

2) Employer brand

Your employer brand is essentially the reputation of your organisation as an employer. An employer brand that showcases diversity, demonstrates its values and encourages participation will help to attract diverse candidates. When your workforce is made up of diverse employees, this helps to create a more appealing employer brand. Diverse candidates will seek out organisations where they’ll feel welcomed and accepted. For example, if your organisation is comprised of white males, a female with Asian origin who’s completely qualified will not only think she has no chance of securing the position but if she were to be successful, she’d feel out-of-place. Without an inclusive employer brand, you risk putting off high-impact leadership talent who could make a positive change to your organisation.

Here are a number of different ways that you can measure the effectiveness of your employer brand. Metrics such as job offer acceptance rate and quality of hire should reflect how robust your employer brand is.

3) Attractive workplace policies

Your culture and workplace policies could determine whether top talent applies for your positions. Your stances on holiday allowance, time off and the flexibility are all important factors to consider. If you represent a western organisation who allows its employees time off for religious holidays like Christmas Day and Easter Monday, then you should consider doing so for other religious holidays. Allowing employees who practice Hinduism, for example, to have time off to celebrate Diwali could help to foster loyalty and spirit amongst your employees.

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In the same line of thought, attract diverse candidates by offering flexible working options for employees that can’t always work set hours. A lot of organisations now offer flexible working so that many people can come in earlier on certain days and leave a little earlier. Alternatively, a huge trend at the moment is remote working. Organisations that allow employees to work from home have 25% lower employee turnover and increase their productivity by 65%.

The key to taking action and making more attractive workplace policies is to get your current employees involved. By encouraging an open dialogue with your employees, you can ask them how they think the organisation could be made more attractive to diverse talent. Listen to their feedback and implement these changes accordingly.

4) Inclusive job adverts

Your job adverts are one of the first impressions candidates get of your organisation. The more inclusive you position yourself, the more attractive you are to candidates. Ensure that you use inclusive language to avoid alienating prospective applicants. Conduct an audit of your previous job adverts, taking note of any language that’s targeted towards a specific demographic. How can you adapt your language to be more inclusive?

You should go beyond simply declaring yourself as an equal opportunities employer; prove it with your words. When describing your organisation in the job advert, you have an opportunity to disclose your fantastic company culture, employer brand and values. Embed your stance on diversity so that you attract diverse candidates.

5) Ensure touchpoints reflect diversity

If candidates want to find out more about your organisation, chances are they will head to your website. While stock photos are an easy solution to bolstering your website with visually appealing imagery, it doesn’t represent your organisation, and candidates will spot this from a mile off. Try to incorporate photos of your team to give an accurate representation of who you are and what you stand for. Additionally, you should do this on your social media pages, highlighting events from your organisation’s social calendar to reflect your robust employer brand.

Likewise, revisit your mission statement to ensure that this reflects your stance on diversity. If your mission is to have a 50:50 workforce in terms of gender split by 2025, then state this goal prominently across your careers pages or about section. Candidates will be more willing to apply and get behind you if they can give you what you’re asking for.

Another great way of attracting diverse candidates is to include employee testimonials on your website. Get your existing employees involved and encourage them to write testimonials about your organisation and its inclusive atmosphere. Better still, have them write day-in-the-life blogs or videos. Diverse candidates will be attracted to your organisation if it’s positioned as a culturally diverse and friendly place to work.

6) Employee referrals

One of the simplest ways to attract diverse candidates is by asking your existing employees for referrals. When positions inevitably open up, they can contact their network of diverse and unique individuals built up over the years. Employee referrals are not only 55% faster to hire, but they can also expose you to diverse talent.

Many organisations have introduced employee referral schemes so that employees can be rewarded for their referrals. This not only encourages them to refer more top-quality candidates but also bolsters spirit amongst your workforce.


While you don’t need to follow all of these steps to attract diverse candidates, it’s worth employing at least some. It may seem hard to get diverse candidates to click that ‘Apply’ button, but with persistence comes rewards. Reaching out to them and enticing them directly will diversify your workforce in no time.

For more hiring advice tailored to hiring managers in the life science industry…

* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.