Diversity Recruiting: Hiring Strategies and Best Practices

Diversity Recruiting: Hiring Strategies and Best Practices

Employers nowadays need to know how to recruit diverse candidates and appreciate the effect their hiring practices have on workplace equality. Recruitment efforts that rely on outdated assumptions about Canadian workers risk stagnating and suffering the effects of groupthink and low morale. The team at Group Enroll wants you to have the tools you need to maintain an inclusive workplace that promotes diversity.

What Is Diversity in Hiring?

Did you know that over 20% of Canadians have a disability, and over 20% come from other countries? Diversity is an integral part of Canadian life.

Diversity, equality, and inclusion are common buzzwords in modern corporate culture. To truly enact a hiring policy that reflects genuine diversity in the workplace, recruiters, HR professionals, and business leaders need to look beyond the slogans. They need to know how to recruit diverse candidates, provide them with an equitable and meaningful place in their organizations, and invest in their success and retention.

The lasting benefits of diverse hiring practices only emerge once businesses integrate diversity holistically into their hiring and retention process. Incorporating diversity into your employer brand and corporate image will help you make systemic changes beyond the wording on the job posting.

Diversity can mean many things, and each facet of diversity affects the workforce and workplace culture differently.

Gender Parity

A core component in understanding how to recruit diverse candidates is understanding historical disparities in employment and knowing what to do about them. The gaps in pay, promotion, and leadership opportunities due to traditional gender roles and assumptions about women are prime examples of a problem that modern businesses must work to overcome.

Men and women have contributed to the workforce for generations, but employment in many fields has not accorded women equal access to financial security, recognition, and opportunities for career development.

Cultural expectations and norms for women are often different for men and women. 

A male-dominated workplace often places women in an impossible position. Men often ignore, belittle, or talk down to women who adopt a non-confrontational, pleasant demeanour. Women who are competitive or aggressive in ways society often tolerates in men can face criticism or ostracism.

A workplace that creates an equal place for women must ensure:

  • Equal pay for equal work 
  • Support for single mothers and mothers on maternity leave
  • Equal access to professional development
  • Parity in promotions and representation at all levels of the organization

Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

Canada has always been a diverse country, and it continues to welcome immigrants that speak many languages and have different cultural backgrounds. A workplace that welcomes and supports cultural diversity:

  • Provides support to non-native speakers of English and French
  • Avoids language and symbols that are offensive to some communities
  • Supports employees who have cultural dietary restrictions 
  • Creates a culture of tolerance for people of different beliefs
  • Includes people with disabilities

People with disabilities often face challenges in travelling to and from the workplace, using workplace technology, and interacting with coworkers unless they have a supportive and flexible environment.


Many Canadians are neurotypical or neurodivergent, meaning their sensory, perceptual, or thought processes differ from the norm. This includes people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and many with less visible disabilities such as dyslexia, anxiety disorders, depression and others.

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Culturally and legally, societies globally recognize greater diversity in how people define themselves. The traditional labels of male and female are no longer adequate. People should not feel isolated or persecuted because they do not conform to conventional gender norms.

9 Strategies for Hiring a Diverse Workforce

There is no one trick to achieving diversity. Knowing how to recruit diverse candidates means understanding how diversity impacts every step of the employment process, including recruitment, interviewing, onboarding, and retention.

1. Have a Sensitivity Reader Review Recruitment Materials

One mistake that companies sometimes make is producing recruitment materials that are unintentionally off-putting, patronizing, misleading, or inaccessible. The job description could contain gender-specific language (“waiter” or “craftsmanship”) that excludes some applicants.

Getting the wording right is particularly important if the company creates materials in a non-native language or if the materials directly reference or feature the target population.

Hiring a member of the community to review the materials before release can save your company embarrassment and negative publicity that might otherwise thwart your recruitment efforts.

2. Ask Whether Your Policies Discourage Diversity in Applications

Consider your employment process from the perspective of different potential applicants. 

Are your applications accessible to people with disabilities? Do the questions or statements make assumptions about gender, race, culture, or any other aspect of identity that exclude community members?

3. Use a Blind Hiring Process

We all have unconscious biases. Humans are naturally more comfortable with people who look, sound, think, or act like them. Sometimes merely knowing about a person’s background or status can influence how we evaluate others without us knowing it. 

One way to promote diversity in hiring and take pressure off the hiring committee is to strip application materials of any identifiers of gender or cultural background.

4. Reach Out to Your Employees

Employees can be an untapped resource for making inroads into a wider applicant pool. As you increase the diversity of your workforce, your satisfied employees can provide leads for recruitment. Ask your employees if they know any qualified candidates in their schools, neighbourhoods, or social media communities.

5. Adjust Your Hiring Priorities

Ask yourself if the expectations you have of employees implicitly put some applicants at a disadvantage. Is a degree from the “right” school unrealistic for immigrants or low-income applicants? Do rigid schedules make a job at your company unattainable for single parents? Does the dress code interfere with gender expression?

Consider more flexible job requirements that focus on the different ways an applicant could contribute rather than conformity to a checklist.

6. Use Social Media for Recruitment

Social media has provided a proliferation of opportunities for respectful, constructive outreach to communities on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This outreach could raise the profile of your community, help you fine-tune your recruitment efforts, and generate inbound traffic to your job vacancies webpage.

Some communities have job boards that highlight companies that welcome and support their members. Find those job boards and do what you have to to get your posting on these sites.

7. Encourage an Inclusive Culture

Once you hire a diverse cohort of employees, keep them happy and build loyalty by providing a workplace where they feel comfortable, secure, and valued.

If all your employees recognize the importance of working together, finding common ground, and communicating effectively, your workers will be empowered to support each other. They will take the lead in adapting the workplace to meet the needs of your changing workforce.

8. Create Diverse Shortlists

Sometimes you will not know how to recruit diverse candidates for your business until you have tried different approaches and figured out which ones work best. Consider the question of whether to automate the process of creating your shortlist.

An automated shortlist has several advantages. Having an AI or quantitative metric for the quality of each candidate removes some sources of bias. However, you could have a computer program rank all your applicants and find that the ones that rose to the top do not reflect the diversity of the applicant pool.

The situation presents a dilemma. Is your ranking programme biased in some way? Is your recruitment process not resonating with diverse communities?

One solution to the problem is to search by hand through the applicant pool for qualified job seekers with diverse characteristics and add them to the shortlist. Ensure that your shortlist includes an equal number of women and a representative sample of applicants from different cultural backgrounds and applicants with disabilities. As your committee reviews them, consider why the automated process excluded diverse candidates and resolve the situation on a case-by-case basis.

9. Offer an Attractive Employment Package

Learning how to recruit diverse candidates does not mean giving up on the fundamentals. An attractive job posting with benefits will draw many applicants, giving you more flexibility in creating a shortlist that includes a wide range of skills, experiences, and backgrounds. An imperfect recruitment initiative might succeed on the strength of the underlying job effort.

Why Is Diversity in Hiring Important?

Many businesses see diversity in hiring as a matter of legal compliance or public relations, but pro-diversity policies can strengthen organizations in many ways.

Maximize Your Recruitment Tools

The most talented and capable employees can come from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. Many will have needs that differ from the typical employee. Businesses that fail to provide an inclusive workplace could suffer a disadvantage when these talented employees work for the competition.

Gain Multiple Perspectives

Women, employees of colour, members of different religious groups, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community have different points of view due to their different life experiences. Diverse hiring practices allow companies to draw upon these different experiences for many purposes, including workplace organization, public relations, and marketing.

Foster a Culture of Inclusivity

A workplace that proactively supports and incentivizes inclusivity will create a more positive environment for all employees by:

  • Promoting conflict resolution
  • Facilitating collaboration among workers
  • Reducing workplace stress
  • Increasing retention and continuing professional development

Serve Diverse Customers and Clients

Most businesses in modern Canada interact with a diverse population of customers and clients. Businesses that cannot work effectively and comfortably with diverse populations will lose market share in many segments of the marketplace.

Start Initiatives that Benefit the Entire Organization

Changes in the workplace that promote inclusivity have positive effects that extend beyond specific classes of communities.

Supporting people with disabilities also makes the workplace accessible to employees with temporary illnesses or injuries. Supporting diversity in gender identity, sexual orientation, and culture helps everyone get to know their coworkers and work together more easily.

5 Effective Tips When Hiring Employees for Your Small Business

Learn how to attract potential employees by creating a welcoming workplace environment.

How Group Insurance Can Help Attract a Diverse Workforce

The need for health insurance can impede workplace diversity. Canadian health insurance does not cover all health insurance costs, and many workers cannot afford to pay additional health costs out-of-pocket.

Workers with disabilities, women who might become pregnant, single parents, and workers with chronic health conditions might be unable to apply for your job unless it offers health coverage.

Contact Group Enroll to get a quote for group health coverage tailored to the unique needs of your business and your workers. This simple, vital investment in your workers could make the difference between a crippling labour shortage and a thriving, dynamic business.

Canadians know Group Enroll as a source of competitive health insurance rates from leading benefits providers. Work with us to explore how to recruit diverse candidates for your organization. You can reach us by e-mail at [email protected] and address letters to our office at 10 Great Gulf Drive, Unit 5, Vaughan, ON, L4K 0K7.

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