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


Diversity hiring has long been an integral part of the workplace lexicon. However, the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace ( shortened as DEI in the workplace), has never been higher. McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report throws up several pertinent facts regarding diversity in recruitment. Examining the UK and US-based data, researchers found how organizations in the higher quartiles for gender diversity had 21% more chances of profitability. 

The biggest takeaway was how those in the highest quartile for diversity had 33% more chances of surpassing profitability-linked forecasts. Those placed in the lowest quartile on ethnic diversity and gender were seen to perform lower than their peers by a whopping 29%. From 2015 onwards, the firm surveyed 346 companies that only scaled up gender representation levels by a couple of percentage points for their executive teams. This indicates how the time is ripe for organizations to walk the talk on DEI at the workplace. After all, DEI hiring increases the entire spectrum of experiences, insights, talents, and core skills at the workplace. It also enables multi-dimensional approaches to do business in various regions.

DEI Hiring is now a critical component of business recruitment decisions, particularly in light of evolving regulations regarding diversity recruitment. Companies are increasingly looking at integrating DEI blueprints into hiring strategies while seeking tech-driven solutions to simplify the procedure.

This article will help you learn more about the basics of DEI hiring and why it matters in the current scenario. Get a brief insight into diversity, equality, and inclusion, which are completely unique aspects and should be carefully understood in order to implement these hiring strategies more effectively.

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. These are aspects that are not linked to their performance on the job or skills. When one talks about diversity in recruitment, it means adopting a system where there is an effort to get past sub-conscious or unconscious biases.

What Is Equity?

Equity at work means an environment where the same opportunities are accessible for every worker, i.e., their representation for these similar opportunities is completely proportional. Equity creates a level-playing arena for everyone.

What Is Inclusion?

Inclusion is one of the core principles behind DEI in the workplace. It means a workplace environment and culture where all employees, irrespective of their age, religion, race, gender, and preferences, are welcome to participate in everything and contribute, giving them equal and unbiased opportunities.

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?

DEI in the workplace is non-negotiable in the current scenario, especially with more regulations coming into play worldwide for upholding the quality of the work environment.

Here are some of the advantages of DEI at work:

  • Better financial performance – Diverse organizations are more likely to outperform industry benchmarks in terms of profitability and financial performance.
  • Higher employer reputation – Diverse workplaces are preferred employers for candidates and could be a determining factor for top talents while choosing employers.
  • Speedy growth and innovation – Diverse, inclusive, and equitable companies are more likely to achieve growth. This is because they can channel multifarious perspectives, skill sets, and ideas. This also fosters a better understanding of diverse markets.
  • Greater employee motivation – DEI at work will play a vital role in employee engagement while fostering better motivation and trust. Employees will be happier and more productive, building interpersonal bonds with the organization.

Now that the primer of DEI in the workplace is clear, let’s understand what the regulators say about its legalities.

What are the legalities around DEI?

In the USA, various orders of federal employment law and rules are in place to uphold DEI at the workplace.

For the U.S., the John F. Kennedy regime set the foundation with Executive Order 10925. In 1965, there was Title VII became the employment regulation for the country.

Lyndon Johnson released Executive Order 11246, and by 1979, there were standards drafted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These standards are still operational, and Title VII and many other laws uphold DEI in a broader form.

In this regard, different countries have their own versions of regulations and human resource policies. In fact, DEI could soon become a legally-safeguarded principle of employment and workplace rights for employees universally.

How are leading companies in the world doing with DEI?

DEI in the workplace is fast becoming an imperative component for leading companies globally. There are several initiatives being taken by companies in this regard. Sodexo, for instance, has more than 460,000 employees globally and includes sexual orientation, generations, and gender as vital parameters of its diversity hiring index. 55% of staff members are women, and 58% of members on the board of directors are also women. The company has 14 Gender Balance Networks in place too.

Johnson & Johnson has more than 132,000 employees worldwide and is investing in creating a more inclusive work environment. There are several mentoring programs, resource groups, and a Diversity University. There is also a Chief Diversity Officer at the organization.

Mastercard has 13,400+ global employees and several unique diversity initiatives, including a program where older company employees are more active on social media platforms. They are also filling up the generational gap with programs like YoPros BRG and the personalized Social Media Reverse Mentoring initiative.

Assessing where your organization stands on DEI grounds

Where does your company stand in terms of DEI implementation? How do you assess the same? Here are some pointers to get you started.

Rate your criteria

Start off with establishing your criteria for assessing your organizational DEI adherence:

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

Audit your workforce

Undertake 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.

Impact of Covid on DEI at the workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the DEI crisis across organizations. Diverse employee groups, including people of color, LGBTQ+ personnel, and women, along with working parents, are having a tough time balancing their professional and personal lives. Women are increasingly anxious about the stress of working double shifts at home and work, especially in developing countries like Brazil and India, for instance.

LGBTQ+ employees are anxious about lost opportunities at the workplace and feel more isolated than before. They are more likely to struggle with issues pertaining to mental health as well. People of color in white-majority nations are more worried about workplace safety and health standards, along with career growth.

Yet, the positives are still visible, including diverse hiring volumes increasing due to the remote work requirement across companies. Organizations without access to diverse employees in their own regions now have an opportunity to hire them for remote positions. COVID-19 has not nipped DEI in the bud, although it has created several new obstacles that have to be surmounted for continued progress.

Steps to ensure diversity in hiring

There are several steps that companies can take to scale up diversity hiring. Now that you have audited the diversity hiring status in your organization, you may find areas for improvement. And here are some other steps that you can check out as well.

  • Building a checklist – Kick off your diversity hiring efforts by building your own metrics, milestones, and feedback loop. These should influence the overall process.
  • Diversity training programs – Organizations should also invest in diversity training programs for their key stakeholders and employers.
  • Building partnerships – The next step is to build meaningful and relevant collaborations with organizations for support and resources.
  • Creating suitable job listings – Companies should streamline their job listings, making them and job descriptions as inclusive as possible. This will help remove entry barriers.
  • Sourcing and short-listing diverse candidates – Companies can engage in recruitment activities like candidate sourcing and short-listing, depending upon varied parameters of diversity hiring. This should be a consistent and ongoing process.

Challenges of diversity hiring

There are many issues with regard to diversity hiring that have cropped up in recent times. If they are not tackled, then they threaten to derail consistent efforts made by companies to stick to their DEI goals. These include the following:

  • Absence of structured data and tracking mechanisms – There is a need for better metrics to identify and track the percentage of diverse candidates and where they are sourced from.
  • Lesser female aspirants in the system – Getting more female candidates into the system is a big challenge, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Only focusing on recruitment/hiring – Many companies only focus on diverse hiring, without perceiving it as a long-term goal and commitment to retaining employees for diversity purposes
  • Catering to various kinds of diversity – Just recruiting more people of color or women does not make you a diverse organization. You should also focus on several other types and groups, like specially-abled individuals, people of ethnic minorities, people from the LGBTQ+ community, and more. Do note that companies should not deploy the same approaches for different underrepresented employee groups.
  • Innate Biases – Something that still hinders DEI at workplaces is innate or unconscious/subconscious biases during recruitment. This can only be tackled with diversity training.

How AI recruiting software helps with diversity

Companies increasingly rely on AI to recruit, identify, and promote better talent. Mercer’s Reports already state that nearly 70% of organizations are using or have begun using AI and associated technological tools for acquiring talent and managing them in 2020 itself. Most leaders at organizations also hold the view that AI can help build a more diverse workforce in the future.

AI-based recruiting is the best way to counter and remove biases in the hiring process. It can tap databases for finding candidates in categories that are un/underrepresented while matching existing employees and applicants with better jobs that they would not have applied for otherwise. It eliminates resume-screening biases by cutting out things like names that indicate gender/race.

This automatically ensures time and energy savings for recruiters while ensuring that companies can better stick to their DEI goals. Technology helps them balance out the workforce through customized search parameters and sourcing.

With respect to interviews, it can come up with customized questions for positions while scaling up accountability for managers through assessments of their recruiting decisions.


Diversity hiring is steadily becoming an imperative goal for companies, especially with the growing need to comply with DEI goals. Companies can reap sizable benefits with a more diverse workforce, including higher profitability, better decision-making, and a superior understanding of newer markets/regions.

However, inherent biases compromise the recruitment process, even though many companies have taken concrete steps towards implementing various DEI initiatives. Here is where AI-based recruitment can help, weeding out biases and objectively ensuring representation for diverse groups and employees.

Solutions like Arya Quantum can be hugely effective for this purpose. This AI recruitment solution comes with built-in diversity. Companies can meet their diversity goals better by sourcing candidates from wider pools, i.e., 50+ channels, including social media. With automated chatbot engagement and features to hold live assessments, it automatically takes biases away from the processes of the recruitment drive.

Find more compatible candidates with Talent Intelligence.

Discover how Arya goes beyond conventional AI recruiting