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Blueprint to drive DEI hiring in the workplace: Definitions, legalities, strategies, metrics, and more


Diversity hiring has becoming increasingly important to virtually every industry in society today. However, the need to promote even more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives has never been higher. McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report highlights several pertinent facts regarding diversity in recruitment. After evaluating data from both the UK and the United States, researchers found that organizations with higher rates of gender diversity in their workforce had a 21% higher chance of profitability.

The research further showed that companies with higher percentages of diversity in their workplace had 33% more chances of surpassing profitability-linked forecasts. Those placed who ranked lower on the ethnic and gender diversity scale were seen to perform lower than their peers by a whopping 29%.

Still, from 2015 to the present, 346 of the companies surveyed by McKinsey only scaled up gender representation levels by a couple of percentage points in their executive teams. A surprising fact considering the many benefits Increased diversity in the workplace can bring including broadening an organization’s entire spectrum of experiences, insights, talents, and core skills. It also enables multi-dimensional approaches to business across regions.

There’s no question that DEI hiring is now a critical component of business recruitment decisions, particularly in light of evolving regulations regarding diversity recruitment. Companies are looking at integrating DEI blueprints into their overall hiring strategies, while simultaneously seeking tech-driven solutions to simplify the process. To achieve diversity hiring goals in today’s turbulent economy, requires a fundamental understanding of the legalities, metrics, and core definitions of DEI as a whole to develop an effective DEI hiring blueprint. Let’s start with the basics.

What is Diversity hiring?

Diversity hiring refers to a process of recruitment that is not hindered by specific biases. These include factors like gender, age, religion, race, sexual preferences, and other attributes of candidates. Attributes that are not linked to job performance or skills. True diversity in recruitment requires the adoption of a system where there is a calculated, strategic effort to base hiring decisions solely on relevant criteria without bias – conscious or unconscious. AI technology solutions such as the Arya platform, can help organizations easily meet their diversity hiring goals with powerful features that mask candidate data and eliminate unconscious recruiter bias.

What Is Equity?

Equity in the workplace means all employees have the same access to opportunities, and resources regardless of their diverse status. Equity creates a level-playing field for all employees by ensuring any workplace decisions are based on an individual employee’s skills, knowledge, abilities and performance vs characteristics such as race, gender, age, sexual preference or religious affiliation.

What Is Inclusion?

Inclusion is one of the core principles behind DEI in the workplace. You might call it the “welcoming” principle behind DEI. It means a workplace environment and culture where all employees, irrespective of age, religion, race, gender, and preferences, are welcomed and even encouraged to participate in workplace activities and culture in an equal and unbiased way.

How is DEI different from diversity hiring?

In many places, DEI and diversity hiring are spoken of interchangeably. However, there are differences between them. And when there is talk about diversity hiring and DEI in the workplace, the subtle differences between them should be highlighted. In simple terms, the latter is the guiding template for companies while the former contributes to shaping it.

DEI refers to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a term encompassing the practices, policies, and initiatives for implementing an organization’s mission in this regard. This is done by overlooking employees’ gender identities, ethnicities, origins, sexual preferences, physical capabilities, religions, ages, socio-economic positions, marital status, etc.

On the other hand, diversity hiring indicates a procedure of recruitment that is not hindered by any biases linked to the race, age, religion, gender, sexual preferences, and other attributes of candidates. Diversity-based hiring strategies are a part of the overall DEI blueprint.

Why is DEI important in the workplace?

In a global, digitally connected world, it’s more important than ever before for employers to recognize the need for, and the benefits of DEI in the workplace. Let’s break the benefits.

  • Increased financial performance – Diverse organizations are more likely to outperform industry benchmarks in terms of profitability and financial performance.
  • Higher employer reputation – Candidates today, particularly Gen Z, are highly invested in DEI and prefer employers who demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity. When your employer brand illustrates how much diversity matters in your organization, your chances of wooing top talent are higher.
  • Enhanced growth through innovation – Companies investing in promoting DEI in their workforce are more likely to achieve growth as a result of innovation. According to one study, companies with above average diversity scores reported revenue related to innovation at 45% versus the 29% companies with below average diversity scores reported.
  • Supports recruitment efforts – A 2020 Glassdoor survey on diversity hiring found that 3 out of 4 job seekers and 76% of existing employees pointed to a diverse workforce as a primary factor for evaluating job offers.

Now that we’ve established the advantages of DEI in the workplace, let’s examine the current legalities and history of legal change surrounding diversity are in the U.S.

Current legalities and history of legal change in DEI

The road to DEI in the workplace in the U.S. has been a rocky one. But legal protection for diverse classes of workers began in 1948 when President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 requiring the desegregation of the armed forces. The order called for “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” Fast forward to the 1960s and change was on the horizon. Below are some of the pivotal events marking the changes in federal law related to DEI in the workplace.

1961 – President John F. Kennedy signs Executive Order 10925: Prohibiting federal government contractors from discriminating based on race and establishes the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).

1963 – Congress passes the Equal Pay Act of 1963: Establishing the first national civil rights legislation focused on gender-based wage discrimination.

1964 – Title VII, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Prohibits discrimination in a broad array of private conduct including public accommodations, governmental services and education. One section of the Act, referred to as Title VII, prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin. The Act applies to private employers, labor unions and employment agencies and covers every aspect of employment including – recruitment, hiring, wages, assignment, promotions, benefits, discipline, discharge, layoffs.

Title VII also creates the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a bipartisan commission tasked with overseeing and eliminating illegal employment discrimination.

1970s – Amendments and reorganization: Throughout the late 60s through the 1980s, the federal government passed additional legislation prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on age, disabilities, and pregnancy. Several amendments were passed to Title VII to improve its effectiveness and in 1978, the responsibility for enforcing all equal employment opportunity legislation was placed on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by President Jimmy Carter.

1990s – Americans with Disabilities Act: President George Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities.

2000’s – ADA amendments, whistleblower protection and more: ADA is strengthened, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation, and President Barack Obama issues Executive Order 13672 prohibiting federal departments, agencies, contractors, and subcontractors from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2020, President Joseph Biden signs the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2022 requiring employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

How are leading companies in the world doing with DEI?

DEI in the workplace has become a top priority for leading companies globally. Here are some of the companies who are getting it right:

Sodexo: a global leader in quality-of-life services, Sodexo has made significant strides towards fostering DEI within its workforce. Not only does their current workforce include employees from many diverse backgrounds, 46% of their leadership roles are held by women, and 58% of board members are also women.

The company not only focuses on hiring diverse talent but also emphasizes their professional growth, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to advance. Through mentorship programs, training modules, and inclusive policies, Sodexo is not just addressing DEI; it is fostering a culture where every employee feels valued, respected, and empowered.

Johnson & Johnson: Global healthcare leader Johnson & Johnson has also achieved significant milestones in DEI in their workforce with women making up 45% of their global management positions. In addition, their commitment to racial diversity is evident as minorities constitute 46% of their U.S. workforce. Johnson & Johnson actively engages in various programs, including mentorship initiatives, to support the career growth of underrepresented employees. The company also invests in educational and community outreach programs to create opportunities for diverse talent.

Mastercard: One of world’s largest payment technology corporations, Mastercard is actively committed to promoting DEI in their workforce. in their initiatives and statistics. Mastercard’s global workforce comprises 53% men and 47% women, illustrating their efforts to achieve diverse gender representation. They are also filling up the generational gap with programs like YoPros BRG and the personalized Social Media Reverse Mentoring initiative.

How to identify if your organization needs a more robust DEI strategy?

Ensuring your organization is thriving in terms of DEI, it’s important to establish benchmarks for measuring compliance, as well as the effectiveness of DEI initiatives and adjust your strategy accordingly. Here are some pointers to get you started. Start by establishing the criteria for assessing DEI in your organization:

  • Leadership and Governance – Examine whether your DEI initiatives have percolated to top-tier management and the C-suite.
  • Work Culture and Quality of Life – Rate your work culture on inclusivity, entry barriers, employee retention, and the number of employees from diverse backgrounds, along with the overall quality of life in your organization’s workplace.
  • Human resources policies and practices – Evaluate how DEI goals shape the organization’s HR policies and employee engagement.

Audit your workforce

Conduct a thorough workforce audit based on the following parameters:

  • Demographic data throughout your organization.
  • Involvement in the community.
  • Interviews with major stakeholders.
  • Focus and employee resource groups.
  • Marketplace and entry opportunities.
  • Education and development programs for every group.
  • Diversity of suppliers, vendors, and partners.

Strategies for diversity in hiring

Now that you‘ve audited your DEI efforts, you may have found some areas that can be improved. Now it’s time to put some strategies in place to do that.

  • Building a checklist – Kick off your DEI hiring efforts by building your own metrics, milestones, and feedback loop. These should influence the overall process.
  • Diversity training programs –Invest in diversity training programs for key stakeholders and employers.
  • Building partnerships – Build meaningful and relevant collaborations with DEI organizations for support and resources.
  • Creating suitable job listings – Revisit job listings to create inclusive job descriptions. This will help remove entry barriers.
  • Sourcing and short-listing diverse candidates – Incorporate DEI tools into your sourcing processes. Using an AI sourcing tool such as Arya is perfect for helping you build a diverse talent pool. With built-in diversity indicators, Arya allows you to source for underrepresented classes of workers by eliminating bias but maintaining scoring and ranking integrity. The result is a more diverse pipeline where candidate quality is intact.

Challenges in DEI hiring

Despite your best efforts, there are still challenges associated with DEI hiring that can derail your DEI efforts.

  • Absence of structured data and tracking mechanisms – Without the right technology in place, it can be difficult to track DEI metrics regarding the percentage of diverse candidates and where they’re sourced from.
  • Siloed DEI efforts – Many companies focus only on DEI in the recruiting and hiring process and fail to promote DEI across the spectrum of their day-to-day company culture. This can have a negative impact on employee retention and engagement.
  • Catering to various kinds of diversity – Simply recruiting more people of color or women doesn’t make you a diverse organization. Companies who focus on promoting DEI more broadly to reach other protected classes, like disabled individuals, older employees, LBGTQ+ candidates and more, are likely to see better results from their DEI initiatives.
  • Innate Biases – Something that still hinders DEI at workplaces is innate or unconscious/subconscious biases during recruitment. This can be tackled with diversity training or by deploying AI tools like Arya, which can eliminate bias by masking candidate data.

How AI recruiting software helps with diversity

A Gartner study predicted that 70% of organizations will be using AI recruiting software and associated technological tools for talent acquisition by 2021. Two years later, that number climbed to 73% with 99% of Fortune 500 companies currently using AI in recruitment. And with good reason.

AI-powered recruiting tools such as Arya, are capable of doing more than just removing bias in the hiring process. Using predictive analytics and Arya’s Talent Intelligence around key data points such as location potential, skill set distribution, salary projection, company mapping, and education, etc., recruiters are able to establish more effective search parameters up front, leading you to the diverse candidates you’re looking for – faster and more cost-effectively.

Final thoughts

AI recruitment solutions like Arya are ideally suited for helping businesses reach their DEI objectives. With a suite of features specifically designed to foster diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process, companies can leverage Arya’s capabilities meet their diversity goals. With the largest candidate database in North America (850+million candidates sourced from 70+ channels, across 150+ industries), candidate masking, built-in diversity indicators, and more; Arya is a single-platform solutions for every recruiting challenge.

DEI in the workplace is not going away. As companies seek to build a more diverse workforce, and comply with DEI regulations, it’s critical to empower your efforts with the right strategy and the right tools. Those who are getting it right are reaping the sizable benefits of a more diverse workforce, including higher profitability, better decision-making, and a superior understanding of new markets/regions. To learn more about fostering workplace diversity, register for our webinar here. And book your personal demo of Arya today to see how the power of AI can power your DEI success!


What is DEI hiring?

DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It’s a comprehensive approach to hiring and workplace culture that seeks to foster a diverse workforce, ensure equal opportunities and access for all employees, and cultivate an inclusive environment where everyone can participate and contribute fully.

What are inclusive job listings?

Inclusive job listings are job descriptions that are welcoming and alleviate entry barriers for potential candidates. This involves avoiding gender-biased language and ensuring that the qualifications listed are genuinely necessary for the job role, resulting in a more diverse range of applicants.

What initial steps can companies take to implement DEI in their hiring process?

To implement DEI in the hiring process, companies can start by setting up clear metrics, milestones, and feedback loops to influence the overall process. Organizations can also use AI recruiting tools such as Arya by Leoforce, which can significantly streamline DEI hiring process. Arya facilitates unbiased recruitment by automating initial screenings and leveraging data-driven insights to make inclusive hiring decisions.

How can AI recruiting software aid in implementing DEI in the hiring process?

AI recruiting software helps to remove biases in the hiring process by using candidate masking to eliminate bias during resume screening, resulting in a more inclusive candidate selection process. It can also help identify candidates from underrepresented categories and match them with suitable job opportunities. Tools like Arya with built-in diversity features can help companies meet their diversity goals more effectively by sourcing candidates from the largest talent database in North America. (850+ million candidates sourced from 70+ channels across 150+ industries.)

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