Recruiting diverse candidates in the biopharma industry with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace has become top-of-mind, so understanding how to incorporate this practice into company culture and recruitment strategies is an integral piece of the recruitment puzzle. Building a diverse pipeline of talent will expand the talent pool and help biopharma organizations continue to develop creative, meaningful ways of doing business and impacting communities.
Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI) initiatives can help with common issues experienced within biotech companies, such as staff recruitment and retention, promotion, and measuring accountability. DEI strategies can be used by biotech and pharma organizations to improve engagement with current and future employees, and consequently with patients.
- Diversity is the presence of differences that enrich the workplace, such as race, gender, or religion.
- Equity is ensuring that access, resources, and opportunities are provided for all to succeed and grow.
- Inclusion is a workplace culture that is welcoming to all people and where everyone is valued, respected and able to reach their full potential.
Recruiting diverse candidates is not about meeting a quota to be a diverse employer, and it is not a reason to hire less qualified. There is a misconception that you can’t hire the most qualified candidate if you hire for diversity. Diversity is a factor and a consideration in your hiring decision, and not the sole factor that determines your hiring decisions.
Why are workers seeking employers who value DEI?
While the intricacies and nuances of DEI can be complex, its importance to job seekers is much simpler. The bottom line is that workers want to feel welcomed, included, heard, valued, and accepted by their bosses, their coworkers, and the people they come into contact with on the job.
If a job seeker can feel this in the company culture and through the recruitment process, know that you have a DEI strategy in place, and are proactively addressing these issues, that’s a win.
What is Diverse Recruiting?
Diverse recruiting is hiring and recruiting diverse candidates based on merit with specific effort taken to ensure procedures have reduced biases and includes a variety of different types of people from different backgrounds and experiences. It is actively seeking out job candidates who are from diverse backgrounds, taking steps to ensure talent acquisition processes are more inclusive, and removing barriers that prevent all candidates from having an equal opportunity in the hiring process.
When referring to the workforce, the term ‘diversity’ was once a word used primarily for ‘people of color’, or those of African American, Asian, or Hispanic descent. For the sake of inclusion, a more modern take on the idea of diversity has been adopted to encompass other groups, such as women, military veterans, and individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community. This change in definition is a reflection of the history surrounding diverse populations fighting underrepresentation in corporate and government leadership positions, wage gaps, and discrimination in the workplace.
For the most inclusive employers, diversity has grown solely from ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation to a more holistic view that takes into account one’s culture, experiences, background, values, and perspective on the world. These traits are what make people ‘diverse’, and employers are looking for people with creativity and unique ways of thinking based on such traits.
Millions of monthly job searches on Google give us insight into what job seekers are looking for in their careers, and what they find valuable in an employer. It turns out that job seekers are looking for meaningful careers with organizations that value diversity and that have inclusive cultures, which is why it’s critical for employers to have strong diversity recruiting programs in place.
Importance of Diverse Recruiting
Diverse recruiting is important for countless reasons, such as adding a broader range of skills and experience on your team, increasing language and cultural awareness, and drawing from larger and more varied candidate pools.
Diverse recruiting is important because:
Diversity in the workplace can improve the communication and awareness between employees, and employees tend to be happier if they are engaged and communication is strong. Diversity also increases innovation by increasing the range of knowledge and skills coming from employees from diverse backgrounds. Having a diverse team can also serve to boost leads, clients, and sales because potential customers may also be inclined to give their business to a company that they can see values diversity and inclusion.
Finding Diverse Recruitment
What are the best practices for diverse hiring?
- Educate your hiring managers in Diversity and Inclusivity: The first step in effective diverse recruiting is to educate all staff and leaders with hiring responsibilities on the best practices of diversity hiring. Your company’s learning and development team should make diversity and inclusion training mandatory for all hiring staff and leaders. Such training will not only help you to hire diverse teams, but also will enable your leaders to lead and manage a diverse team.
- Plan diverse role models for everyone in the company: Having diverse leadership in place within your company will help to communicate the values of your organization, as well as act as role models for your team. Black leaders, LGBT leaders, people of color leaders, indigenous leaders, and female leaders are just examples of different types of diversity leaders.
- Rewrite your job postings to reflect your diversity values: Remember that first impressions count. The first thing your job candidates see before joining your organization is the job posting and the job description. One way to show that your organization values diversity and inclusion is by showing it in the job description. You can do this by using gender neutral terms in the job posting, and including diversity and inclusion policies and statements. Another powerful tip is to include diversity analytics in your job descriptions so that potential candidates can see up-front the diversity and inclusivity already evident on your team.
- Post your job on leading diversity job posting sites and boards: Making an effort to post your job on leading diversity job posting sites and boards will communicate to job seekers that your company is serious about diversity and inclusion, and will also ensure that candidates seeking out those same values see your listing.
- Make your job application and recruiting process accessible: If you want to hire for diversity, especially those in need of accommodations, make sure to highlight and show it in your job recruiting process. Candidates with disabilities might be frustrated by a process that is not accessible to them, or the application is too long and challenging to finish. Making efforts to accommodate a diverse workforce from the very start of the employment process is key in successful diversity recruiting.
- Make your hiring panel diverse: Having a set of standard interview questions and a diverse hiring team will help in the diverse hiring process and help to reduce unconscious bias that could come across in an interview. It also indicates to candidates that your organization does value diversity across the board.
- Take diversity and inclusion measurements: Keep regular tabs on the diversity and inclusion statistics of your team so that you know where you stand and what direction you might like to move in or what improvements you might like to work towards.
- Recruit from diverse universities: Instead of repeatedly turning to the same ivy leagues, the biopharma industry should be broadening its search to include historically black colleges and universities with more diverse student populations to raise awareness of the industry and the multitude of growth opportunities in those communities.
- Increase funding and outreach: To make long-term changes, funding and resources are needed to help diverse institutions develop facilities that will ignite and nurture students’ curiosity and interest in the life sciences. Invest in STEM education for students at an early age. Have scientists reach out to these communities, visit middle and high schools, and speak to students about the industry and the benefits of medicine. This can foster stronger relationships within the communities and create an enduring impact.
Ways to Improve Diverse Recruitment
It is no surprise that people want to work where they feel comfortable and accepted. As issues in company culture or lack of diversity and inclusion practices at work become more prevalent, job seekers are beginning to do more research on the diversity present in an employer’s existing workforce and leadership board, and then tailoring their job search accordingly.
It is becoming more and more common that if people feel that they won’t be welcomed, they simply won’t choose to work for you. Companies should be prioritizing recruiting diverse candidates not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also recognize that it has a significant positive impact on the bottom line, too.
When employees feel welcome and bring their entire, authentic selves to work, they’re free to be more creative, energetic, and collaborate more with their coworkers. A more diverse and inclusive workforce helps to build trust and allows people to learn from their coworkers. Companies that are more diverse have better retention and are more likely to be seen as innovators in their industry.
Since the front line of your company’s talent acquisition strategy are the recruiters and hiring managers, it’s important to make sure they understand the importance of diversity and have had adequate training before they go into the interview process.
How to Update Your Diverse Recruiting Strategy
If your existing recruitment strategy doesn’t emphasize diversity and inclusion, be willing to throw your existing strategy out the window and start anew. Recruiting is a time-consuming job and while many recruiters might feel that while broadening their candidate pool is important, they don’t have the time to do outreach to specific candidates, under-represented groups, or troubleshoot what exactly is going wrong in their process to reach more diverse pools.
Over one third of HR professionals say that they simply don’t have time to engage with candidates. However, there isn’t a quick way to increase diversity. More diverse recruiting demands investing time and attention, especially if you haven’t been doing it up until now.
It’s really important to get leaders involved in the overall diversity and inclusion strategy. They have to be committed to developing a more diverse workforce and understand how vital it is for the business and their culture.
You can’t get workforce diversity without changing the way you make hiring decisions and ultimately changing the selection process for internal hires and promotions as well. It’s just as important for your new hires and senior staff to feel supported and welcomed by the leadership team.
Determine How You’ll Measure Success
You won’t be able to determine whether or not your diversity recruiting efforts are successful unless you measure it. In order to do that, you have to set clear goals and create a strategy for meeting them. Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) and track them on a consistent basis. For added insight, cross reference them with metrics outside of recruiting. For example, you may find that hiring diverse talent also improves employee engagement.
The work of getting better at recruiting diverse candidates applies across many dimensions of diversity. Whether your team is trying to increase the representation of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, female candidates, be more inclusive of different sexual orientations, or expand the range of socio-economic backgrounds, the same work to understand explicit and implicit biases and barriers will prove fruitful.
Let Us Help Shape Your Diverse Recruitment Strategy
Diverse recruiting is just one of the many components of navigating evolving recruitment challenges. Creating and executing a solid and effective recruitment strategy involving recruitment marketing is more important than ever, and we can help. Let’s get started.
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