Promising Practices, Resources, and Policies for Sourcing Racially Diverse Talent

31 Aug 2021

Workforce, News

Promising Practices, Resources, and Policies for Sourcing Racially Diverse Talent

By Tony Tolliver, Senior Director of Partnership & Impact, Center for Economic Inclusion

Building an economy that works for everyone will require designing solutions to close employment gaps by attracting, hiring, and retaining diverse talent for good jobs with family sustaining wages. It will require employers to have champions at every level, a willingness to measure progress regularly, and the innovation to make changes, when necessary.

In fact, the economic benefits are in the billions of dollars: according to Fed Communities, if the racial gaps in employment were closed, the GDP for Minnesota would have increased by $2.3 billion each year from 2005 to 2019.

At the Center for Economic Inclusion, our work to build an inclusive regional economy places us in regular conversation with private- and public-sector leaders from companies and organizations of all sizes seeking our advice and assistance on how to build a workforce of racially diverse talent. While there is not a magic, one-size-fits-all solution that we offer for recruiting, attracting, hiring, and retaining diverse talent, there are a number of critical key actions we recommend that can help employers achieve greater success to create a culture of racial equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Whether you’re recruiting for open positions, creating a talent acquisition strategy, or both, the following are actions to consider to better prepare your organization in its efforts to attract and retain diverse talent.

Start With Data

Disaggregated data is key. Quantitative data that explores your workforce and is disaggregated by race, place, gender, ability, and more is key to a deeper level of understanding of your workforce. For example, standard data collection may show that hiring trends are on the mark and perfectly adequate, while disaggregated data may reveal where hiring for diverse talent is concentrated in only a few departments or teams and for a specific set of positions. Do the work, mine the data, and then let it tell the story. From there, your road map will emerge.

Define Your Strategy

It’s important to cultivate your talent pipeline by actively recruiting for diverse talent. While posting open positions on websites that promote diverse talent is one tactic, it should not be your only one. However, being intentional and consistent in your approach to inclusive hiring practices will allow you to do three things:

1. Demonstrate a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture

2. Measure your progress

3. Avoid bias in your processes

Amplify Your Strategies

Who needs to know your diversity recruiting and talent acquisition strategies? The simple answer: everyone needs to know. Aligning your recruiting and talent acquisition strategies with your overall diversity, equity, and inclusion commitment, strategy, and outcomes will elevate the significance of your narrative on inclusion. This will matter to future talent of color and serve as a model to other companies and organizations.

According to Harvard Business Review, diversity and inclusion should be a core ingredient in the design and execution of business strategy and embedded in the activities of the organization, day in and day out.

Also keep in mind that every person associated with your hiring process serves as a gatekeeper to your organization. Ensure that your hiring team possesses a deep understanding and some level of accountability for your DE&I commitment, strategy, and outcomes.

6 Steps to Take Right Now

1. Relationships Matter: Build strong relationships and invest the time and human capital in community organizations, professional associations, and educational institutions. This will elevate your company, what you stand for, and demonstrate your overall commitment to racial equity and inclusion. This can lead to a strong, diverse talent pipeline for many years to come.

2. Leverage Your Team: Engage your employees in your recruiting and talent acquisition strategies by encouraging them to share opportunities within their networks and social media platforms. Provide your team the tools they need and they will be your best ambassadors.

3. Regular Audits: Audit your hiring process with a racial equity lens. Evaluate the list of “minimum qualifications” versus “preferred skills” for each job posting. You could be unintentionally screening out very talented applicants. Build trust by being transparent. According to Social talent, upfront salary details will encourage more applications from strong, dedicated, and diverse candidates.

4. Prioritize Ongoing Training: Continuously address bias and through training and skilled, facilitated dialogue, and require additional training for your gatekeepers -- hiring managers, talent acquisition, and recruiting teams. According to RippleMatch, unconscious bias during the hiring process affects marginalized groups because of negative stereotypes, which affords a relative benefit to other non-marginalized groups. And while unconscious bias is often tied to characteristics like race and gender, it can extend to other areas. For example, an employer or recruiter could be attracted to particular candidates because they have distinct similarities in aspects, such as hometown or geographical area, alma mater, involvement in fraternities or sororities, and more.

5. Look Within: Conduct a qualitative assessment of your workplace. This will allow your current employees’ voices to be heard and help you devise strategies to improve the experience of future employees. What are your employees proud of? Would they refer a friend? Do they believe they have the proper tools to work in person or remotely? Do they think you have an inclusive culture and feel a sense of belonging? Do they feel valued for who they are? Many annual employee satisfaction and pulse surveys don’t go deep enough. Go deeper to find the information you need to activate organizational change that leads to happy employees.

6. Take the Next Step: Taking a data-informed approach to thoroughly analyze the effectiveness of your current recruiting and talent acquisition strategies requires a proven thought-partner who can deliver, like the Center for Economic Inclusion, to help you on your journey to design a successful, measurable, racially inclusive plan, one step at a time.

Creating an economy that works for everyone won’t happen by chance. It requires commitment, accountability, data, and a plan. Embedding promising practices, resources, and policies for sourcing racially diverse talent are the first steps.

Additional resources: 

Ramsey County Workforce Solutions

Minnesota Apprenticeship Program

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion


About the Center for Economic Inclusion: The Center for Economic Inclusion is the nation’s first organization created exclusively to close racial wealth gaps and accelerate shared accountability for achieving regional inclusive economic growth. The Center is committed to increasing the number of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian workers earning family sustaining wages in the Twin Cities region by 10 percent over the next five years. Through the Center’s Employer Inclusivity and Inclusive Growth Consulting Services, the Center partners with employers, like Ramsey County, who also seek to increase competitiveness and profitability by centering racial equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Click here to learn more about the Center’s approach to supporting businesses in developing, implementing, and facilitating change management in five distinct arenas: People (Talent), Procurement, Philanthropy, Policy and Products, and Marketing and Services.

About Tony Tolliver: With 20 years of experience and leadership in diversity, public affairs, and community engagement in the corporate sector, Tony Tolliver is responsible for identifying new partners or projects to open the economy and expand the number and type of employment opportunities to all residents of the Twin Cities region, especially those who have been historically under-employed and unemployed.