Diversity Hiring: Why Your Actions Should Support Your Words

BY Kathy Crosett
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Is it time to fill a key position in your company? Is it also time to change the direction of the vacant position? If you answered yes to either of these questions, slow down your hiring process and start thinking outside the box. Here’s why.

One of the best ways to change a company’s culture or strategic direction is with a new hire. But, small business owners tend to hire an applicant who’s a mirror image of themselves. A new survey from Gusto, based on 886 businesses, finds that 93% of hiring managers report looking for diverse candidates. The actual hiring process tells a different story.

About 13% of White-​owned businesses have a diverse workforce, defined as over 50% of employees who belong to a racial or ethnic minority. Nearly half, 47%, of non-​White-​owned businesses are in the same position. Not surprisingly, businesses founded by immigrants tend to have an immigrant-​majority workforce.

The Gusto survey also explored the hiring actions of LGBTQ business owners. At least 25% of LGBTQ business founders have hired a racially and ethnically diverse workforce. LGBTQ business owners also tend to hire more women.

When it comes to gender, Gusto research finds that business founders who are over age 50 have an employee workforce that is 59% female. Analysts speculate that women tend to establish businesses when they are older than men and may be hiring more women. On the other hand, businesses founded by 18–34 year olds have more men (58%) than women (42%) on their teams.

As a hiring manager, it’s tempting to hire the candidate who looks and sounds like you. Before you make that offer, think about the message you’re sending to the rest of the company. Hiring a mini-​me tells everyone you’re not particularly interested in change or innovation. That head-​in-​the-​sand attitude will definitely slow down your company’s growth. Research out of North Carolina State University supports the benefits of diversity hiring. Companies staffed with diverse employees “tend to be better problem-​solvers, coming up with blue-​sky solutions more often.”

As one company owner in the Gusto survey confirmed, “Either you teach your best practice [to the new hire] or maybe change yours because their way of doing it is better.”

If you’re open to change and growth, give your diversity candidates a second look.