By Gail Gumminger

Are you intent on attracting, hiring and inspiring the best talent? Are diversity, equity and inclusion practices a cornerstone to your organizational values and strategic goals? 

If so, it is time to check in to assess whether your actions match your intentions. By just writing your DEI intentions on a whiteboard without acting, you are unconsciously (or consciously) compromising your organization’s potential for solving problems with real solutions AND denying fair treatment, access, and opportunity for all individuals. 

Craft your organization’s DEI proclamation and/or statement. It needs to be believable, authentic, and accessible. If I am looking at your organization as a potential employer, I want to see and believe that you stand behind something that makes me and everyone else feel welcome. I want to see that our differences are celebrated through position and promotion opportunities. 

Assess and re-build your policies. Words matter. Assure your policies reflect your DEI intentions. This takes some focused effort. Your policies should guide behaviors and practices in support of your DEI position.

Hiring employees is a significant responsibility of a leader in any organization.  It is important for leaders to understand the intensity of this responsibility along with the legal parameters they must adhere to to ensure both equity and inclusion. As you consider your hiring practices, the job description is a critical piece along with sourcing, posting, screening, interviewing and selection. 

Fundamental suggestions for ensuring DEI efforts are elevated in various steps of your hiring process include:

  1. Prepare job descriptions in a way that removes biases. Remove gender language and socio-economic biases. Remove any minimum qualifications that create unjust barriers for potential applications (Questions to consider: Will experience substitute for advanced degrees? Do minimum qualifications include anything that could be eliminated and learned on the job? Is there bias in the specific types of degrees mentioned? Do you really need a specific type of degree to be successful?). Finally, state your organization’s DEI position to set expectations of performance in support of diversity and equity success so that there is no question to anyone who is wanting to join your organization.
  2. Ensuring a diverse and deep candidate pool is a critical outcome of strategic sourcing and job posting. Developing a customized DEI sourcing plan is your first step. Create a list of diverse sources for job postings. Then, begin establishing outreach to underrepresented populations including culturally specific populations, those that serve veterans, people with disabilities, and other represented organizations for better access to underrepresented populations. Consider community newspapers and publications run by communities of color for posting.
  3. Write your job postings with inclusive language. Avoid unconsciously using masculine dominated language. Again, include your organization’s DEI proclamation and/or position as well as critical statements that reflect your desire to attract and hire diverse individuals including women, transgender, veterans, people of color, ethnicity, and disability.
  4. Actively manage your personal biases throughout the screening and evaluation process. Define screening and evaluation criteria in advance to minimize bias that can be introduced during the process. Consider eliminating cover letters and blind resumes (eliminating name, address, names of schools, etc.…) to remove identifying information that may lead to implicit bias. Consider standardizing pre-employment testing through a diversity lens. 
  5. Now it’s time for interviewing. The most important aspect for the candidate is to make the interview safe and for the organization it’s to make the interview informative. Creating a situation for candidates to try to guess the right answer or come up with the answer you are looking for is NOT favorable. You want the candidate to be comfortable and at ease to show up at their best. This may include providing the job description, interview questions and detailed information about the organization in advance so the candidate is able to prepare. Acknowledge cultural needs and sensitivities throughout the interview process. Use behaviorally based interview questions and seek to understand versus try to stump. Lastly, create a diverse, representative interview panel to minimize bias.
  6. Once you have selected your top candidate and you are checking references, ask reference check questions to ascertain information about the candidate’s experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion. A sample question includes:  How do you think (candidate’s name) will perform working in our organization with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences?

Following these fundamental DEI practices throughout your hiring process will enhance your ability attract and retain a talented diverse workforce.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson

If you find you are stuck at some point as you assess where your organization is and where you need to go, we would love to talk with you. Our mission is to give voice and action to an emerging future. As a partner in your success, we would come alongside you to help you find your voice, see your vision, and imagine what the right action could be for you, your team, and your organization. Please contact us for a complimentary consultation at or call us at 970-279-3330.