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The Limits of Blind Hiring & Building Genuine Relationships with Diverse Communities to Advance DEI



As a leadership and HR consultant, I have explored the topic of diversity and inclusion and how organizations can build genuine relationships with diverse communities. Building genuine relationships with diverse communities is essential for organizations seeking to increase diversity and inclusion in their workplace. In this article, I will discuss the importance of listening, engaging in two-way communication, being transparent and authentic, and following through on commitments. I have also provided examples of organizations that have successfully built genuine relationships with diverse communities and how they measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives.


The Limits of Blind Hiring


Blind hiring is a decision-making strategy that aims to reduce bias by blocking evaluators from receiving potentially biasing information about a job candidate until after an evaluation of their application materials is complete. Blind hiring has gained popularity in recent years as a tool to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. However, while generally effective, there are situations in which it might not help diversify your candidate pool. In this article, I will explore the research around blind hiring and provide specific examples to illustrate the key points.


Blind hiring has been most famously used to boost the hiring of women in orchestras by having people audition from behind a screen that concealed their gender. This practice resulted in a significant increase in female musicians in orchestras. However, blind hiring is not a one-size-fits-all solution to increase diversity in hiring. There are situations in which it might not help diversify your candidate pool.


One study in the Harvard Business Review found that blind hiring was less effective in increasing diversity in fields where there is a lack of diversity in the talent pool. Blind hiring can only choose from the pool of candidates that apply, and if that pool is not diverse, then the process of blind hiring will not increase diversity. For instance, if a company is looking for a software engineer and the pool of candidates is predominantly male, blind hiring may not significantly increase the number of women in that position.


Another study found that blind hiring can actually decrease diversity in certain situations. In fields where credentials are highly valued, such as in law or finance, blind hiring can result in the selection of candidates with similar academic backgrounds. In these fields, a candidate's academic credentials can be a significant factor in the hiring decision. Blind hiring can lead to the selection of candidates with similar educational backgrounds, reducing the diversity of the candidate pool.


Moreover, blind hiring can potentially ignore the importance of soft skills and cultural fit. Soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, are essential to building a cohesive team and achieving success. Blind hiring can lead to the selection of candidates based solely on their technical skills, without considering their soft skills or cultural fit within the organization.


To get the most out of a blind hiring approach, there are three questions that organizations should ask themselves. First, is the talent pool diverse? Blind hiring can only select from the pool of candidates that apply, so if the pool is not diverse, organizations should focus on expanding their reach to diverse communities. For instance, organizations can partner with diversity-focused job boards or attend job fairs targeted towards underrepresented communities.


Second, are credentials essential to the position? Blind hiring can potentially disadvantage candidates who have taken non-traditional paths to their careers. Organizations should evaluate if credentials are essential to the position and consider alternative ways to evaluate candidates' skills and abilities. For instance, skills-based assessments or project-based interviews can be effective alternatives to evaluate candidates' abilities.


Finally, is cultural fit important? Blind hiring can potentially ignore the importance of soft skills and cultural fit. Organizations should evaluate if cultural fit is important for the position and consider alternative ways to evaluate candidates' soft skills. For instance, behavioral interviews can be effective in evaluating candidates' soft skills and cultural fit.


Blind hiring can be an effective tool in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and organizations should evaluate if it is the right approach for their specific situation. Organizations should ask themselves if the talent pool is diverse, if credentials are essential to the position, and if cultural fit is important. By asking these questions, organizations can get the most out of a blind hiring approach and increase diversity in their hiring practices.


How Organizations Can Expand Their Reach to Diverse Communities


If blind hiring isn't enough, how can organizations better reach diverse communities to make sure they have a diverse hiring pool? Below are three strategies:

  1. Attend diversity-focused job fairs: Organizations can attend job fairs targeted towards underrepresented communities to expand their reach. Job fairs provide an opportunity for organizations to connect with a diverse talent pool in a single location. Organizations can leverage these events to connect with candidates from diverse backgrounds and build relationships with diverse communities.

  2. Partner with diversity-focused job boards: Organizations can partner with job boards that focus on diversity to increase their visibility to diverse candidates. These job boards are designed to connect candidates from underrepresented groups with organizations that value diversity and inclusion. By partnering with these job boards, organizations can reach a wider audience of diverse candidates.

  3. Build relationships with diverse communities: Organizations can build relationships with diverse communities to expand their reach and create opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups. This can include partnering with community organizations, attending events focused on diversity, and engaging with diverse communities on social media. By building relationships with diverse communities, organizations can create a pipeline of diverse candidates and build a reputation as an inclusive employer.

Expanding reach to diverse communities is essential for organizations seeking to increase diversity in their candidate pool. By attending diversity-focused job fairs, partnering with diversity-focused job boards, and building relationships with diverse communities, organizations can create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.


Building Genuine Relationships with Diverse Communities


Building genuine relationships with diverse communities is essential for organizations seeking to increase diversity and inclusion in their workplace. Here are a few ways that organizations can ensure they are building genuine relationships with diverse communities:

  1. Listen and learn: Organizations should take the time to listen to diverse communities and learn about their unique needs and experiences. This can involve conducting focus groups, hosting listening sessions, or engaging with diverse communities on social media. By listening and learning, organizations can gain a better understanding of how to create a more inclusive workplace and build trust with diverse communities.

  2. Engage in two-way communication: Organizations should engage in two-way communication with diverse communities to build genuine relationships. This can involve hosting events or participating in community activities, as well as inviting community members to participate in organizational events and activities. By engaging in two-way communication, organizations can build trust and create a sense of mutual respect with diverse communities.

  3. Be transparent and authentic: Organizations should be transparent and authentic in their interactions with diverse communities. This can involve sharing information about the organization's diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as being honest about the organization's strengths and weaknesses. By being transparent and authentic, organizations can build trust and credibility with diverse communities.

  4. Follow through on commitments: Organizations should follow through on commitments made to diverse communities. This can involve implementing changes to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as supporting community initiatives and causes. By following through on commitments, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to building genuine relationships with diverse communities.

Building genuine relationships with diverse communities is essential for organizations seeking to increase diversity and inclusion in their workplace. By listening and learning, engaging in two-way communication, being transparent and authentic, and following through on commitments, organizations can build trust and credibility with diverse communities and create a more inclusive workplace.


Organizations that Have Successfully Built Genuine Relationships with Diverse Communities


There are many organizations that have successfully built genuine relationships with diverse communities. Here are a few examples:

  1. The Kellogg Company: The Kellogg Company has a long history of promoting diversity and inclusion in their workplace and building genuine relationships with diverse communities. The company has established partnerships with several community organizations, including the National Urban League and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. These partnerships have allowed the company to engage with diverse communities and create opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups. For instance, the company has launched several initiatives to support minority-owned businesses, including a program to provide financial assistance and business resources to women and minority-owned businesses.

  2. The Coca-Cola Company: The Coca-Cola Company has taken a proactive approach to building genuine relationships with diverse communities. The company has established several programs and initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace, including a diversity council and employee resource groups. The company has also partnered with several community organizations, including the National Urban League and the Hispanic Federation, to promote diversity and inclusion and support underserved communities. For instance, the company has launched several initiatives to support small businesses owned by minority and women entrepreneurs, including a program to provide business loans and mentorship to minority-owned businesses.

  3. Starbucks: Starbucks has made a concerted effort to build genuine relationships with diverse communities and promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace. The company has established several programs and initiatives to support underrepresented communities, including a program to provide job training and employment opportunities to young people from underserved communities. The company has also partnered with several community organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Council of La Raza, to promote diversity and inclusion and support underserved communities. For instance, the company has launched several initiatives to support small businesses owned by women and minority entrepreneurs, including a program to provide funding and mentorship to minority-owned businesses.

These organizations have successfully built genuine relationships with diverse communities by engaging in two-way communication, being transparent and authentic, and following through on commitments. By promoting diversity and inclusion in their workplace and embracing the unique needs and experiences of diverse communities, these organizations have created a more inclusive workplace and built strong relationships with diverse communities.


How to Measure the Success of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives


Measuring the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives is an essential part of building a more inclusive workplace. Here are a few ways that organizations can measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives:

  1. Employee feedback: Organizations can collect feedback from their employees to measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives. This can involve conducting surveys or focus groups to gather feedback on the effectiveness of the organization's diversity and inclusion efforts. Employee feedback can provide valuable insights into the impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives on the workplace and help organizations identify areas for improvement.

  2. Demographic data: Organizations can also measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives by analyzing demographic data. This can involve tracking the diversity of the organization's workforce over time, including the representation of women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. By tracking demographic data, organizations can identify areas where they need to improve diversity and inclusion efforts and measure progress over time.

  3. Business impact: Organizations can measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives by assessing their impact on the business. This can involve analyzing metrics such as employee retention, engagement, and productivity. By tracking business impact, organizations can identify the benefits of diversity and inclusion initiatives and make a business case for investing in these efforts.

  4. External recognition: Organizations can also measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives by external recognition. This can involve receiving awards or recognition from external organizations for their diversity and inclusion efforts. External recognition can provide validation for an organization's efforts and demonstrate their commitment to creating a more inclusive workplace.

Measuring the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives is essential for building a more inclusive workplace. By collecting employee feedback, analyzing demographic data, assessing business impact, and seeking external recognition, organizations can measure the impact of their diversity and inclusion efforts and identify areas for improvement.

Conclusion

Building genuine relationships with diverse communities is a crucial step in creating a more inclusive workplace. Organizations that listen, engage in two-way communication, are transparent and authentic, and follow through on commitments will be able to build trust and credibility with diverse communities. By partnering with community organizations, attending diversity-focused job fairs, and building relationships with diverse communities, organizations can create opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups and build a pipeline of diverse candidates. Measuring the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives is also essential for creating a more inclusive workplace. By collecting employee feedback, analyzing demographic data, assessing business impact, and seeking external recognition, organizations can measure the impact of their diversity and inclusion efforts, identify areas for improvement, and make a business case for investing in these efforts. Ultimately, building genuine relationships with diverse communities is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a smart business decision that can lead to increased innovation, creativity, and better business outcomes.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.


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