A commitment to diverse and inclusive hiring practices requires careful consideration.

There's always more HR leaders can do to ensure that their organizations support inclusive hiring practices. Inclusive hiring is the ethical thing to do, and it has the added benefit of furthering a firm's business goals — hiring diverse talent enables innovation and helps support and engage the customers that drive business success.

Committing to hiring practices that embrace diversity and inclusiveness requires an investment of time and resources. But, as the following five suggestions illustrate, there are many small but effective methods HR professionals can implement to change hiring practices at their organizations for the better.

1. Evaluate Your Organization's Definition of Inclusivity and Diversity

Start at the beginning — ensure that your organization has current definitions for inclusion and diversity. The definitions should address the needs of as many groups as possible, including employees with disabilities, transgender talent, older workers, and individuals who represent global, cultural and religious diversity. It's imperative that recruiters and hiring managers keep these definitions at the forefront of their minds as they look for candidates to fill open positions.

2. Search for Candidates in Overlooked Places

If you always return to the same sources when recruiting talent, you'll only recreate your existing employee base without diversifying. Make sure you're casting a wide net by posting open positions on a variety of job boards, not just the standard few sites. Seek out partnerships with organizations that support the job search efforts of women, minorities and other diverse populations.

Attend networking events hosted by organizations that serve underrepresented audiences. Consider tapping into new talent pools as early as possible by ensuring that your agency is represented at school-sponsored recruiting events around the country.

3. Ensure That Interview Teams Represent Diversity

Establishing a practice of building interview teams that represent diversity and inclusion has benefits for everyone involved. Candidates are made to feel more welcome at the organization because it's reassuring to be in an interview and know that there are people on the team with whom they can relate. Inclusive interview panels also promote diversity among current employees by demonstrating that their organization incorporates a variety of perspectives when making hiring decisions.

Working Mother Magazine reports that diverse interview teams have made a noticeable difference at the semiconductor chip producer Intel. Since the firm's 2014 decision to require "at least two women and/or members of underrepresented minorities" on its interview panels, Intel's diversity among new hires has significantly increased from 31.9 percent women or people of color in 2014 to 45.1 percent in 2016.

4. Consider Removing Application Information That may Promote Bias

Unconscious bias occurs despite our best efforts. Even the most self-aware person may unintentionally rely on stereotypes when assessing a candidate.

To reduce opportunities for bias, consider implementing a standard exam that evaluates candidates based on their skills and experience. Develop a standard set of interview questions that are fair and focused on the candidate's qualifications. These practices will reinforce your firm's commitment to hiring individuals based on their skills and will also help to minimize risks related to perceptions of bias or unfair hiring practices.

5. Reevaluate Hiring Practices That Could Result in Biased Decision-Making

At the core of any effort to implement inclusive hiring practices is a commitment to evaluating how organizations source and hire talent on an ongoing basis. The referral is a prime example of an effective hiring practice that works consistently. Current employees tend to recommend trustworthy people who would be positive additions to their own organizations.

Many businesses are now also relying on data-based insights provided by HR technology solutions with AI capabilities. These systems offer an efficient way of reviewing candidate data (e.g., cover letters, online networks, etc.) to determine who would be the best fit for the organization.

While referral programs and the use of AI are helpful in recruiting talent, it's important to examine our reliance on the systems and processes for hiring that have worked in the past, as well as those which are emerging as new standard practices. With both referrals and AI, organizations must regularly evaluate their methodologies and perform tests to discover and remove any bias that could unintentionally influence their hiring practices.

Once you've recruited a diverse talent pool, the work isn't over. The next step is cultivating a workplace environment that celebrates and supports diversity and inclusion. From the time of onboarding until their last day, your new recruits and long-term employees should feel welcome. Doing so will grant your organization the opportunity to enjoy the many advantages a diverse workplace can offer.

Tags: Recruiting and Hiring Diversity Equity and Inclusion Workforce Planning Large Business Midsize Business Multinational Research & Insights Articles HR