If you’ve ever been in charge of filling open positions at work, you know how hard the process can be. You sift through all the resumes, weed out the obvious bad candidates, and pore over the remaining applications – all before even conducting your first interview. And then you meet and talk to a number of people, most of whom appear capable of doing the job. But how do you decide which person to choose?
To complicate matters even more, what if everyone you interviewed, or maybe even most of the people who applied, are late-20-something white females? Then what? How do you ensure diversity in the office but also choose the right person for the job? You know you want to create a diverse workforce and encourage inclusion – but should you choose diversity over the person who seems the most qualified and capable? And how do you know when you’re lacking diversity or when you have enough variety in the office?
It can be an overwhelming problem, but keep a couple of things in mind:
Hire for the Team, Not the Position
When presented with a hiring decision, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Don’t focus solely on the specific role you need to fill, but instead consider the value each potential new hire can bring to your organization. It’s not just about finding the best person for a specific job – it’s really about finding the best person for the team. For example, say you hire someone to be your bookkeeper, but their graphic design skills are strong enough that you’d rather them focus on using their talents. The hire might be in a different department than anticipated, but your business is still benefiting from their skills.
Diverse Offices Have Diverse Opinions
One thing to keep in mind is that teams are less creative problem solvers when everyone is similar in age or when the whole staff is the same gender. It should come as no surprise that young people will have new perspectives to offer to a staff of veterans. Or that people who grew up outside the United States may respond differently to your customers' concerns.
You might be thinking that the more diverse perspectives, the more conflict will arise in the office. However, any conflict that does occur will result in a more well-rounded course of action for the company, as those diverse perspectives will anticipate different problems, and have different solutions for those problems.
Check Your Hiring Advertisement
You may want to spend some time reviewing your job listing to ensure that you attract diverse candidates. Studies show that women tend to only apply for jobs for which they think they are a 100% match whereas men are more likely to apply for a job if they think they meet some of the requirements. Keeping this statistic in mind, make sure to focus your advertisement on what the candidate needs to achieve in the future rather than on a long list of past experiences.
Another tip for balancing diversity with skill set is to clearly define the job that needs to be filled. What technical skills will the person need to be successful? What soft skills will he or she need to best work with the team and your customers?
Reputation is Key to a Good Business
It's always good to remember that it’s illegal to make hiring decisions based on race, national origin, color, religion, age, disability, and in some states, sexual orientation. Discriminatory hiring practices damage your company’s reputation and will make it even harder to find qualified candidates. Not to mention the cost of defending yourself if such a charge is brought. It might also help to remind yourself that the goal is to find someone who will be successful in the job – not necessarily the person who fits your preconceived notions about who should have the job.
Hiring for success means that you’re hiring for diversity. As successful managers know – the more diverse your staff, the better equipped your business will be to handle different problems and come up with the most well-rounded solutions.