Employer Branding: A Tool for More Inclusive Hiring

by Phil Neuffer Vol. 48 No. 7 2022
Companies need to reassess and improve the experiences they create for job seekers to attract, retain and support a more diverse pool of talent.

Desiree Booker,
Founder and CEO,
ColorVizion Lab

Building a more diverse and inclusive workplace takes commitment. Companies can improve their ability to attract, retain and support a more diverse pool of talent by enhancing their employer branding and the candidate experience.

“The key to attracting any talent, but especially diverse talent in today’s marketplace, is going to be the employer brand,” Desiree Booker, founder and CEO of ColorVizion Lab, says. “Every company has a brand, but every company does not have an employer brand.”

Booker says a company’s brand is how customers perceive it, while its employer brand is how job seekers perceive it. To improve, companies must invest in creating a culture with equitable opportunities, as this is one of the top priorities for job seekers today.

How a company shows up online, whether on its website, social media or online jobs boards, is also important, and all online platforms can be used to better deliver an employer’s value proposition to potential candidates.

“I think this is a really big pitfall for a lot of companies; they fail to show all the good work that they’re doing internally and all the reasons why their employees like working there,” Booker says.

A company’s website should include clear culture and careers pages as well as imagery that displays a greater level of representation, according to Booker. Companies should also prominently display detailed stances on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“If you’re a company that is bold in what you believe in and what you stand for as it relates to equity and inclusion, that is a stance,” Booker says. “If you don’t have anything about DE&I on your website or on your branding, that is a stance as well. And both of those are sending two very distinct messages to diverse talent.”

Once a company establishes its employer brand, it can create recruitment marketing assets to amplify its message, Booker says, and since it takes an average of 14 touchpoints for a diverse prospect to convert into a candidate, keeping messaging uniform is critical.

Companies also need to improve the candidate experience. For the application process, Booker says companies should remove barriers to applying such as a lack of accessibility, gender-coded language and overly exhaustive job postings.

The interview process is another area ready for improvement. Booker says companies need to remove the potential for bias in the screening process, such as by removing identifiers from applications before they are given to hiring managers. Creating a standardized process and ensuring hiring managers are prepared to succeed can also help ensure fair treatment for all candidates. Additionally, Booker says having diverse representation on interview panels is a must — but companies must avoid tokenism.

Finally, when it comes to actually hiring candidates, Booker says companies must determine what competencies are “must-haves” versus what can be trained and be open to candidates from non-traditional working practices, especially with freelance work on the rise.

“The freelancer market is huge right now,” Booker says. “Being flexible about what type of candidate profile you’re willing to accept will definitely expand your candidate pool.”

The interview process can also be a fact-finding endeavor. Booker recommends seeking feedback throughout the hiring process, both for the benefit of the candidates themselves and the employer. In addition, Booker suggests bringing in consulting firms to conduct performance, culture and employer brand equity audits to determine strength of culture, online positioning, inclusivity of branding and more.

“The worst thing to do is to bring new talent into a broken culture because it will negatively impact your retention,” Booker says.

In addition to external input, current employees should also be consulted about a company’s culture and employer brand.

All input should be used to set goals and key performance indicators so companies can measure their progress and hold themselves accountable. Along the way, continuing to solicit input from internal and external sources will help refine strategies and track results.

“Measuring is going to ultimately save you time, save you money and make sure that you are actually hitting the goals that you want to hit,” Booker says, while emphasizing that making serious financial investments is the only way for these strategies to bear fruit. “I want leaders to be patient [and] to galvanize their entire organization to be invested in the work and really just see it through to the end.”

Phil Neuffer is senior editor of Monitor.

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