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How to Begin Incorporating DEI Principles Into Your Staffing Firm’s Hiring Process

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In a recent Take the Stage interview with Brad Bialy, DeLibra Wesley discusses DEI, unconscious bias, and how staffing firms can address these challenges. At a time when we hear more and more frequently that the QUALITY of candidates applying is down, we must ensure our job descriptions are inclusive and welcoming for all to use to attract the truly best talent. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are essential in today’s workforce, dictating not only the culture of a workplace but also its productivity, creativity, and overall success.

Unconscious Bias – We All Have It

“We all have unconscious bias,” said DeLibra Wesley. These biases can unknowingly influence hiring choices. It’s important to acknowledge and challenge our own biases, which come from our backgrounds and experiences. Wesley advises hiring managers to work with someone who has a different perspective to help balance out these biases. However, she points out that roles focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) don’t receive enough support or funding and are often overlooked. She stresses that commitment from upper management is crucial to making real changes.

Avoiding Bias in Talent Acquisition

Traditional methods of finding and hiring talent can give an unfair advantage to some groups while excluding others. Wesley highlights the need to carefully check job advertisements and the language used to describe roles. She recommends looking past hiring criteria that could prevent skilled candidates from being considered. “Don’t limit yourself to the candidate you ‘picture,’” advises Wesley. She encourages the inclusion of candidates from diverse backgrounds to enhance the team with different viewpoints and creative ideas.

Refining Job Descriptions to Prevent Bias

Job descriptions often serve as the initial barrier to a more diverse candidate pool. Wesley sheds light on a startling discrepancy: women tend to apply for jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men apply if they meet 60%. Using masculine-coded words like ‘Ninja’ and ‘Rockstar’ in job listings can inadvertently signal a gender preference. Wesley encourages the use of gender-neutral language to create an inclusive tone that welcomes all applicants. Refrain from listing ‘nice-to-have’ qualities as requirements, as this may discourage qualified candidates who are self-critical or from underrepresented groups.

Cultivating Bias-Free Hiring Practices

Wesley’s approach to minimizing bias in hiring includes using a blind recruitment process that removes the candidate’s personal information and instead focuses on skills and experience. She also suggests reaching out to underrepresented groups and using platforms like LinkedIn to create a diverse pool of candidates. Additionally, she emphasizes the need to actively connect with marginalized communities and use various networks to broaden the range of potential hires.

Regarding the use of technology, “The jury is still out,” said Wesley. ‘I haven’t been overly impressed so far. My concern with AI is that it’s been pre-loaded with our biases.”

DeLibra Wesley’s DEI Blueprint

Wesley is not just a thought leader in DEI; she puts her principles into action. She knows true inclusivity goes beyond hiring practices to influence policies and culture.  Wesley founded Women of Color in Staffing, an organization that provides a place for women of color in the staffing industry — and their allies– to meet and discuss current issues in the staffing and recruiting industry.

“Nothing matters more than representation,” Wesley said. “Today’s applicants are looking at employers and social media. They don’t want to work where they won’t have a community.”

Tangible steps Wesley has taken to promote diversity at her workplace include implementing a gender-neutral dress code,  establishing equitable parental leave policies for birthing and bonding parents and pay transparency.

Her work ensures that DEI is not an afterthought but a foundational element of the staffing process. By embracing these principles, organizations can ensure they attract a diverse range of candidates and retain and nurture them in a supportive environment.

Final Questions From Brad:

What is a Book that’s changed your life?

Grit by Angela Duckworth.

I read it annually and Discuss it with my team.

I believe that hard work and resilience are the great equalizers.

If you could have one conversation with anybody, living or dead, who would it be?

Harriet Tubman. I admire her leadership skills, bravery, and what she did to lead people to freedom.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone new to the business?

Remember, when you look at top producers, you see them where they are now, not where they started out. There’s no such thing as overnight success. It’s about hard work. Don’t waste time. Get the most out of every day.

Closing Thoughts

Staffing firms can lead the charge toward a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive future by acknowledging and addressing unconscious bias, revamping talent acquisition strategies, refining job descriptions, and embedding DEI into organizational policy.

Diversity is not just about bringing people into the room; it’s about ensuring everyone feels valued, included, and empowered to contribute to their fullest potential.

About DeLibra Wesley

DeLibra Wesley is the Founder and CEO of National Recruiting Consultants, on the board of the American Staffing Association and a founding member of Women of Color in Staffing. Connect with DeLibra Wesley on LinkedIn.


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