Drive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Progress with Virtual Recruiting

Jun 23, 2022 - Tiffany Monhollon
The pressure is on for employers around the world to embrace social change, improve diversity, and work towards equity and inclusion.

The business case is clear: organizations that prioritize DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) are more relevant, more competitive, and more resilient. Despite the various motivations to improve DEI, business leaders have historically struggled to effect real change, often resorting to complicated policies and procedures that fell short of the type of cultural shift necessary for an organization to raise the bar in meaningful ways. Talent acquisition leaders must reform or replace ineffective DEI programs in order to remain competitive in the talent market and make their DEI goals a reality within their organizations. Our joint research report with the Talent Board showed that almost 400 TA leaders and their teams have named attracting diverse talent one of the top 3 challenges TAs are facing in 2022, alongside candidate ghosting and engaging passive talent. LinkedIn also reports that 77% of talent professionals say diversity is very important in the future of recruiting, and research shows that what really makes a difference for top companies in DEI is a focus on recruiting and advancement. For instance, 75% of the top 10% of organizations in the 2020 Inclusion Index require panels of interviewers to be diverse.

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In particular, virtual recruiting has successfully moved the needle for DEI efforts in recent years. Virtual recruiting encompasses a wide array of strategies and tactics, ranging from the use of recruiting chatbots on an employer’s career website to email and text communications with candidates to live chat with recruiters to virtual career fairs and other types of virtual recruiting events. Virtual recruiting can positively impact DEI by making it easier for employers to attract and connect with candidates in different geographic areas, making their recruiting processes more accessible, and breaking down some of the obstacles that keep qualified candidates from engaging with a potential employer. Later in this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how virtual recruiting does that. For now, let’s acknowledge that although the pandemic drove widespread adoption of virtual work, virtual recruiting isn’t just a pandemic-era trend. According to LinkedIn, 70% of talent professionals say virtual recruiting will become the new standard. That’s just part of the story. When virtual recruiting is combined with in-person recruiting techniques, resulting in a hybrid recruiting approach, employers can maximize results and create new strategies to target desired candidate personas, even for hard-to-fill roles and in tight talent markets.

Diversify Your Pipeline with Virtual Recruiting

No organization can substantially improve DEI without diversifying the talent pipeline. Virtual recruiting makes it easy to reach and attract candidates who may be underserved through in-person channels, due to the constraints of budgets, time, and geography. For campus recruiting, virtual recruiting enables employers to work with a variety of colleges and universities in different locations, without breaking budgets or exhausting your recruiting team, which helps broaden your reach and engage with candidates you might otherwise miss. Another key way virtual recruiting can improve candidate diversity is an often overlooked consideration. When employers schedule the dates and times for career events, they typically plan according to what’s best for their staff and some candidates, without realizing that certain schedules may exclude other candidates. Virtual recruiting enables you to easily offer multiple options to open up recruiting events to more candidates enables you to easily offer multiple options to open up recruiting events to more candidates. For instance, you can host virtual career fairs at multiple times of the day, such as midday and evening, to give more candidates with differing schedules and work considerations an opportunity to participate. For job seekers who are already working during the day and don’t have the luxury or benefit of taking time off to attend a recruiting event, this can be a game changer.

Drive Better DEI Progress with this Guide

Also, don’t overlook the power of language when it comes to diversity recruiting. One of the first steps every organization should take is to commit to inclusive language that doesn’t alienate certain candidates. Familiarize yourself with inclusive language style guides and update your job postings, online applications, social media posts, email/text communication, and programmatic advertising to ensure you’re using appropriate language. Conduct training with your recruiters and hiring managers to provide a consistent candidate experience throughout all interactions. Using inclusive language across your virtual recruiting process will not only improve how your brand appeals to candidates, it will also help your team adopt this language by seeing it consistently in action.

Build Relationships Based on Trust

When recruiting is based on building relationships, employers make better hires and often see improved employee engagement and retention down the line. Focusing on strategies that build trust with candidates, both with individual recruiters and as trust in your employer brand, is a key differentiator for diversity in recruiting as well. Candidates who belong to traditionally underserved groups may have experienced discrimination in their job search, leaving them skeptical of potential employers’ motives, if not outright distrustful. Building relationships based on trust in the recruiting process gives candidates more confidence in their decisions about engaging with your organization, from chatting with recruiters to participating in virtual career fairs to accepting a job offer. One of the easiest ways to build trust in recruiting is by prioritizing effective, consistent communication throughout the recruiting process. This means communicating with candidates according to their preferences, so ask what methods they prefer and how often they want to hear from you, and then deliver accordingly. (This also means your team needs technology that enables you to deliver on a broad range of candidate communication preferences, making virtual recruiting tools key.) It’s also important to keep candidates informed at every decision point, which means you should have a plan for communicating when candidates are not selected to move forward, and share feedback to help them improve their chances in the future. Another way to build relationships based on trust is to evaluate each candidate’s individual strengths, skills, and potential and avoid minimum requirements for experience or educational achievements that are not absolutely essential to the job function. By focusing on what candidates bring to your organization, you can build a broader scope of talent and include quality candidates that may have otherwise been rejected if your requirements were too stringent, unrealistic or even unnecessary. 

Take some time to re-evaluate your job descriptions, hiring manager guidelines, and templates to ensure you are using and standardizing best practices across your organization. Using personality assessments to evaluate candidates may be appropriate for certain roles, but it’s worth noting that these tools can come with their own biases. Some tools may, overtly or subtly, disadvantage some candidates on the basis of their age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance. If your organization decides to implement personality profiles as part of your recruiting process, be sure to evaluate the tool for potential concerns before rolling it out to candidates. Many organizations test personality assessment tools on current employees and gather feedback individually or in focus groups to ferret out any concerns and ensure that you choose a tool that aligns with your DEI goals. And, as always, be transparent with candidates about why you’re administering such an assessment. If they trust you and understand that the goal is to get to know who they are and what they bring to the table, a personality assessment can help you identify valuable talent that other methods may have overlooked. 

Another concept that is gaining a lot of attention is the idea of hiring for ‘culture add’ versus ‘culture fit.’ The idea of culture fit essentially means that your organization emphasizes hiring and retaining more of what is already working. The downside of a culture fit mindset is that it can further entrench any biases that may exist within your organization. A culture add mindset asks, “What valuable elements is our culture lacking that we should seek to add?” This mindset shift helps organizations move past behaviors that preserve familiarity and into driving innovation. One way that virtual recruiting can help your team improve in this area is that it can open your organization up to new talent pools, such as candidates from outside of your field. For example, in addition to hosting your own organization’s hiring events, your team can easily and affordably attend virtual career fairs from other organizations and nonprofits online.

Host Creative Virtual Recruiting Events

The beauty of virtual recruiting events is that they can take so many different forms. We’re seeing employers create virtual recruiting programs that include a variety of different types of events, each with its own objectives and target talent audience. While all virtual career fairs can be designed to attract and engage with lots of diff erent types of candidates, there are some types of virtual recruiting events that support DEI more directly. Many employers are seeing success with discussion-based events hosted by employee resource groups (ERGs), which address the unique challenges of job seekers who might traditionally face discrimination. These informational events can be focused on groups that are defi ned as narrowly or widely as seems appropriate, from ‘women in manufacturing’ to ‘Black cybersecurity experts.’ While these types of events aren’t traditional job fairs, this type of virtual hiring event can expand your talent community and strengthen your employer brand, further diversifying your talent pipeline. Another key element of virtual recruiting events that improves DEI is including employees from across your organization, representing a variety of departments and roles, as well as members of applicable ERGs. With virtual events, there are no travel, time, or budget restraints that make it challenging to involve so many people in traditional in-person recruiting events. Virtual events that showcase your organizational culture help diversity candidates see themselves as a potential member of your team, improving engagement.In fact, many of our clients are seeing success with this type of virtual hiring event. 

Foster a Culture of Belonging

It isn’t news that happy employees are more productive, engaged, and stay longer than those who are unhappy. But there’s a broader issue at play for employees (and thus, candidates) who belong to groups that have traditionally faced discrimination. In order to achieve DEI goals, your organization must have a culture of belonging, in which employees feel accepted, valued, and empowered to contribute to the greater good.

An inclusive recruiting process will help you make more diverse hires, but diversifying your organization is a broader scope. This presents an opportunity for talent acquisition leaders to partner with top execs to effect real change. The business case for steering toward a culture of belonging is solid. Research finds that a culture of belonging correlates with an estimated 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a whopping 75% decrease in employee sick days. Knowing that a culture of belonging also supports DEI goals minimizes the challenge of getting executive buy-in for a broader organizational shift, and HR leaders can influence workplace culture by leading the charge.

Fostering a culture of belonging correlations

Other Best Practices for DEI Virtual Recruiting

Investing time and energy in building relationships, designing virtual recruiting events, and working toward a culture of belonging are all paths to progress toward your DEI goals. To ensure your approach is intentional and organized, develop a targeted DEI recruiting playbook that outlines all the strategies and tactics you’ll employ throughout the recruiting process. Having a guide to follow will help you make deliberate choices about your recruiting efforts, track your progress, and replicate successful strategies. A well articulated plan will also sets expectations and guidelines not only for your entire TA team, but also for the rest of your organization, equipping you to partner with hiring managers and organizational leaders on driving this transformational change. 

Let’s take a look at some key elements of your DEI recruiting playbook:

Measuring your results along the way is an essential step. You can’t improve your diversity in recruiting if you don’t understand your starting point or how your efforts are affecting your results. It’s crucial to set specific target DEI goals, as well as incremental goals to help you evolve toward those targets. Measure your DEI progress on a regular basis—quarterly, monthly, or even on a per event level—and use the flexibility of virtual recruiting to make improvements or course correct when you’re not seeing the results you desire. 

Asking candidates for feedback is also crucial, in order to collect data to steer future events and strategies. Many organizations making progress toward DEI goals also survey current employees to get a more comprehensive picture of how their workplace is doing. 

Setting examples for organizational change. Recruiting is one important piece of the DEI mission, but true organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion are broader and shape the entire organization. Talent acquisition leaders can use insights from employees to inform the recruiting process and anticipate the concerns and questions candidates might have as they consider their future employment. Ask employees to rate how your organization’s leadership and culture on DEI issues, diversity recruiting, and career development opportunities. Ensure that your DEI survey asks questions about all of the relationships employees have, including their peer coworkers on their team, coworkers on other teams, direct supervisors, and executive leadership. 

Once you’ve created your DEI recruiting playbook that includes all these elements, it’s important to consistently review and update your recruiting practices in response to feedback. And remember, this information isn’t solely relevant to the world of recruiting. Your DEI playbook is an opportunity for collaboration, learning, and improvement that truly makes DEI a reality in your organization and not just a program or a policy on paper alone. Share your DEI advice outside of recruiting with your broader talent acquisition team and with organizational leadership, and foster conversations with how DEI really looks, feels, and functions in every aspect of your organization. 


The biggest key differentiator between top companies in DEI and those that fall short of real progress is a commitment to walking the walk throughout the entire candidate and employee experience, from the job posting to the interview to the job offer to onboarding and far beyond. Building a culture of inclusion and belonging isn’t a challenge talent acquisition leaders can take on alone, but they can influence positive change by diversifying the talent pool, educating recruiters and hiring managers, and designing a candidate experience that welcomes everyone, regardless of background, ethnicity, culture, and life experience. The demand for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace isn’t a trend. It’s a necessity. The need for employers to take strong, proactive steps to effect change is long overdue. Now is the time for talent acquisition leaders to create new strategies that help organizations shed the bad habits, biases, and broken systems that stand in the way of real social change and lead the way for their organizations to transform.

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