Hiring the right person for a STEM position requires careful resume screening as well as a healthy interview process to make sure the candidate is a good fit for your company. Because so many technical positions require highly specialized skill sets, it can be difficult to be sensitive to diversity concerns during the hiring process. However, by implementing some policies designed to break down barriers for women and minorities, you can ensure that your company creates an equal opportunity for all potential candidates to get the job and to assimilate well into the company environment after hiring.
Diversity hiring isn’t just about making the right pitch. It’s about creating a total process that isn’t geared toward just one demographic. Here are five ways to start:
- Build relationships—Don’t be a recruiter who makes a minority pitch to fill a quota. Instead, get to know candidates and connect with them for the purpose of building trust. Network, use social media to become a trusted resource, communicate regularly, and show respect for each candidate’s skill set and knowledge. This is true for any candidate, but people from other cultures often value these trust relationships even more highly.
- Verify IT skills during the interview—Interviewers don’t always have the technical knowledge needed to accurately assess a candidate’s skill level. If that’s the case, bring in an IT person into the process to “talk shop.” Learn to walk the fine line between being too simplistic and over-testing. Don’t make assumptions—either positive or negative—based on the person’s resume or background.
- Adjust your recruiting practices—Social media has become a go-to recruiting resource, but it can also create a narrow recruiting pathway if not handled strategically. Companies can include a greater number of competent minority candidates by building relationships with organizations like The Anita Borg Institute, Hackthepeople.org, and the Society for Women Engineers where you can build mentor/mentee relationships, provide input on career choices, and gain insight on diversity-friendly hiring practices.
- Focus on a candidate’s trainability—Don’t immediately write off candidates that don’t have the exact skill set you’re looking for. Instead, use the interview process to see if they have the technical prowess and business knowledge that would allow them to be easily trained. Take a look at the broad scope of their experience rather than just their most immediate job description.
- Create a company atmosphere that provides equal advancement opportunities for all employees—Minorities seeking jobs as computer programmers or other IT specialists may find it difficult to penetrate the social structure of a company. They may find themselves excluded from high-profile projects, overlooked for product development, or denied access to IT leadership roles. By taking the initiative to reverse these tendencies, companies can position themselves as a positive place for minorities to work. And that’s a great move for your employer brand.
In order to truly level the playing field for minorities seeking STEM jobs, we as a society will have to reach into the educational system, creating initiatives in high schools and colleges with the goal of eliminating the bias in technical fields. That’s an ongoing endeavor that will require the cooperation of companies and schools working together. But you can start making a difference today by positioning your company as a place that values diversity, offers equal opportunities to all candidates, and provides opportunities for advancement to every employee.