5 Steps To Build A Diverse Talent Pipeline

Written by: Lauren on November 17, 2023

Diversifying your talent pipeline can feel like a ‘big’ thing to take on. Daunting. Where do you even start? Practical action is a must. Get it right, and your business can see jumps in productivity, innovation and retention. 

We work with organisations to help them diversify their talent pipelines and attract the next generation of tech talent. Here are some of the long-term initiatives and quick wins we’ve seen work well along the way.

Playing the long game.

Step 1: Understanding Your Position

The first step to diversifying your talent pipeline is understanding where you’re already at. That’s why an EDI health check is the first thing we do with our corporate partners. We cover a number of areas: current diversity data, company policies, values and leadership’s understanding of and commitment to EDI.

It’s an essential first step to moving EDI forward meaningfully, and as part of that, building a diverse talent pipeline. Establish metrics and regularly evaluate your organisation’s progress. Celebrate successes and acknowledge individuals or teams who actively contribute to fostering inclusivity.

Step 2: Creating an Inclusive Culture

Once you know where you stand, you can target key areas for action. Creating an inclusive culture doesn’t happen overnight; it takes commitment from everyone, and it takes leadership. 

Leaders and managers play a crucial role in setting the tone. That means demonstrating inclusive behaviours, such as active listening, seeking input from all team members. Encourage open communication by setting out clear expectations for respectful conduct and establishing accessible platforms where employees can communicate. 

From your initial evaluation, you should seek to establish clear values and policies on your EDI approach. Whatever your own organisational policies look like, it’s about how you communicate them as much as anything else. Ensure employees know what your organisation stands for, and the steps you’re taking to create a more inclusive culture for each and every one of them.

Building cultural change takes time. So, while you seek to establish your position and EDI strategy, let’s move on to some quick wins that help diversify the talent pipeline.

Acting fast.

Step 3: Review The Hiring Process to Improve the Talent Pipeline

Your current hiring process is a great place to start in trying to diversify your talent pipeline. This ensures you’re not putting off underrepresented groups without realising or intending to. You should approach it from two angles: improving how candidates perceive your business, and removing the potential for unconscious bias to influence your recruiters.

First, ungender job specs. It goes without saying that you should use gender-neutral language: no ‘he’ or ‘she’, thank you. Also look out for more nuanced gender-coded words – adjectives such as ‘aggressive’, ‘compassionate’ or ‘ambitious’ – that can be unconsciously associated with traditionally masculine or feminine stereotypes. It’s easy to fix by taking the time to run existing job specs through one of the many gender decoder tools available, like this one from TotalJobs. Adding an EDI statement will also help to communicate your commitment – many boilerplate templates are available online that you can tweak to reflect your own approach.

With improved job specs hopefully encouraging a more diverse pool of applications, you then need to move into erasing unconscious bias from the review process. Blind CV reviews are a great place to start. It’s fairly straightforward: before passing along candidate CVs and cover letters, remove demographic information such as name and gender. Another option to take it further is to remove each candidate’s educational background.

Step 4: Consider Unconscious Bias Training

Unconscious bias training is an important step towards creating an inclusive culture right now, aiming to make people aware of the shortcuts our brains make that can lead to unfair assumptions about a person’s character or skills. It’s an opportunity for self-reflection, and essential that individuals from all areas of the organisation take part. 

If budget is a concern, it doesn’t have to involve an all-staff training day. We’ve seen unconscious bias training work effectively for partners when carried out by an internally appointed EDI champion, tasked with understanding the nuances of inclusive language, why the words we use matter, and the reasons we can make – often gender or race-related – snap judgments about other people.

Step 5: Take Direct Action for Your Talent Pipeline

Take a community approach and proactively partner with a school in your local area. This is a big part of the InnovateHer approach – linking businesses with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, so they get exposure to and experience of the world of work, while businesses benefit from exposure to and experience with the next generation of talent. These partnerships can include talks at school assemblies, mentorships, work experience and internships.

We’ve recently launched our up-to-the-minute findings on how businesses across the country are diversifying their pipeline, plus a whole host of other related EDI issues and priorities.

Get the latest look at businesses’ progress in our Gender Equality x Corporate Sustainability report.

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