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4 Easy Ways to Improve Workplace Diversity Through Your Hiring Process

The need for workplace diversity is crucial for the success of any company. Learn how to attain and retain top talent by ensuring an unbiased hiring process.

8 min read

HR alone cannot be the shepherd of diversity and inclusion in an organization. While good principles and examples must start from the top, everyone should be empowered to make their workplace the kind of environment they can be proud to work in. For leaders, managers, and even companies as a whole, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be thinking of how they can bring about this kind of change in their own organizations. Here are four simple ways you can encourage workplace diversity in your hiring process:

1. Job description

To ensure fairness across the board, you can work with your HR team to adjust how job descriptions are written. Studies show that female candidates are less likely to apply to a job when they can do most, but not all, of the items in the job description.

However, men will apply to these same jobs even if they don’t meet all of the criteria. This means that tweaking job description language can produce a more diverse applicant pool. For example, at Xactly, we removed the unconscious gender-bias from our job descriptions and switched to an ‘impact-based’ model that is more inclusive for both sexes.

2. Blind Hiring

Another way to work with HR to increase diversity hiring in sales is to start practicing “blind interviewing.” This means that prior to HR sending the hiring manager a resume it is scrubbed of all possible bias indicators such as name, age, etc. Many companies are doing this to help protect against subconscious bias.

It’s been proven that people subconsciously favor and hire others who look like them. According to a Harvard brain scan study, “Once you have a little piece of information about someone being similar to you or different, you seem to take it and run with it. You may think they are similar to you across the board, even though you may not have much reason to think this.”

That’s why even those with the best intentions can end up with sales teams skewed towards a certain population, rather than a diverse group.

3. The Interviewing Team

Who are you introduced to when you walk into the interview room? One way to ensure diversity is allowing both male and female sales reps, along with other people with diverse backgrounds, to speak with each interviewee. If all they see is men in your sales organization, this can create the perception that the sales org is a ‘boys club,’ which can deter talented female sales reps who would be an asset to your team. 

They won’t be able to identify every type of diversity in their short time being interviewed, but if your interviewees are not exposed to an accurate representation of your company culture, they may construct their own perception of your organization as a whole.

4. Use Benchmarking to Your Advantage

So why benchmark? Sales is a highly competitive market, and companies must ensure that they can offer competitive pay to attract and retain top sales talent, increase overall sales performance, and drive growth. 

To bring in the best and brightest sales reps, hiring is an important area to leverage data for benchmarking in both pre-hiring assessments and competitive pay. 

Benchmarking during Pre-hiring Assessments 

The most successful sales organizations aim to hire self-motivated sales reps and leverage tools such as pre-hiring assessments that cover personality and acumen to assess potential fit - even before the interview process fully gets underway. 

While this may initially screen out a number of candidates, this ultimately makes it easier to find the right people for your team. This data can actually protect your compensation investment over time with stronger candidates from the outset. 

Benchmarking your pay against industry standards 

How enticing of an offer do you have to make to attract the best and brightest? The most successful sales organizations use data to benchmark pay standards against industry standards. If you want to make sure you are attaining and retaining the best talent, you have to make sure you are offering competitive pay for the positions you are trying to fill. 

“Companies paying competitively at the 75th percentile or higher have 50% less sales turnover." - Xactly Insights

Compensation itself can be a quick internet search. However, those values aren't always accurate since pay data available on most employment websites is often reflective of opt-in responses. It’s clear that data needs to go deeper and paint a better picture of the overall market. 

Improving Workplace Diversity Through Hiring

As Xactly’s 2019 Gender Pay Gap Report shows, we still have a long way to go towards compensation equity in tech, and in sales organizations in particular. However, there are actionable ways to start diversifying your teams and moving towards greater parity today.

While there are certainly more changes we can bring to diverse hiring, companies like Xactly are blazing a path when it comes to consciously hiring people from diverse backgrounds. You can do this by encouraging open forums to discuss hard issues, offer safe mechanisms to report questionable behavior, and regularly make diversity training a part of your learning curriculum.

It only takes one company to start a movement. And each movement starts with that first step. No matter how big or small, it gets everyone closer to where we need to be as a society and as a global workforce based on a foundation of equality. So take a moment today and start thinking about what steps we need to take in order to keep moving in the right direction. 

Get more tips for identifying ways you can improve diversity in the workplace in the full 2019 State of Gender Equality survey.