How RPO Can Support Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

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In general, a diverse workforce is one composed of various races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, ages, religions, sexual orientations, educational levels, abilities, and more. The case for a diverse and inclusive workplace is becoming more significant each day. There is no question that a diverse and inclusive workplace can positively affect your business performance and bottom line. In fact, studies have continually shown that DE&I-focused workplaces result in improved employee engagement, creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, financial performance, and employer reputation.

So, how can Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) help?

To build a diverse workforce, you’ll first need to focus your efforts on a DE&I-centered recruitment strategy that will effectively attract and engage diverse talent. Implementing and maintaining a successful approach will require significant planning, resources, and timenot to mention the challenging task of acquiring stakeholder investment. Leading RPO service providers have demonstrated experience standing in for DE&I hiring projects and delivering on their clients’ DE&I needs. They’ll know the best practices when it comes to preparing your recruitment infrastructure for diverse hiring, and will consider your DE&I goals at every step. This article provides an overview of how RPO can advance your DE&I function throughout the recruitment lifecycle.

Candidate Sourcing

Effectively hiring for a more diverse workforce begins at the top of the recruitment funnel. To employ more diverse candidates, you’ll first need to source a diverse candidate slate to choose from. Many organizations, despite having strong DE&I programs, being headquartered in a geographically diverse region, and having a positive employer reputation, still struggle to attract diverse candidates. Oftentimes, the issue is that employers keep using the same tools and returning to the same places to find candidates and advertise open positions.

RPO providers know where to attract diverse candidate pools.

Candidate Attraction Magnet

RPO recruiters actively seek out candidates from a wide and diverse range of sources. That includes their own internal candidate databases, talent fairs, job search engines, social media, online marketplaces that target specific minority groups, as well as diversity-focused organizations such as associations for women, veterans, people with disabilities, and individuals with criminal records. Moreover, RPO specialists can leverage their networks and referrals, gaining access to diverse talent pools across industries. By employing a large variety of sourcing methods, RPO providers can reduce bias that comes with repeatedly hiring from the same place, and can actively fill the pipeline with diverse candidates for you to select from.

Employer Brand

Many RPO consultants offer branding services and can help you develop an employer brand that aligns closely with the values of underrepresented groups. As part of incorporating your DE&I efforts into your company brand, an RPO specialist will position your brand messaging and Employer Value Proposition (EVP) to highlight your business as one that commits to DE&I, employee satisfaction, and employee well-being. RPO specialists also have ample experience crafting inclusive job descriptions that appeal to a wide range of demographics. This will ensure that all qualified candidates, including those from underrepresented groups, feel welcome to apply. Additionally, RPO providers can help you compose a DE&I mission statement to highlight and quantify your efforts to build and support a diverse workplace—be that through employee resource groups, mentorship programs, diversity training programs, and more. As RPO providers engage candidates on behalf of your organization, they can share these DE&I stats and initiatives to authentically showcase your efforts in building a workplace culture that values diversity, inclusivity, and a sense of belonging.

Technology Stack

When it comes to identifying and assessing potential candidates, it’s not uncommon for unconscious human biases to lead to discrimination against minority groups. RPO Providers have access to advanced tech tools that hold great promise for reducing bias in the candidate sourcing, engagement, and screening stages. Here are just some of the tools that they can use to enhance your DE&I strategy.

Search ToolsMany search tools, such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), have built-in diversity settings that allow recruiters to surface qualified candidates from underrepresented groups based on race, gender, veteran status, and more. In many cases, these tools can anonymize search results by censoring names, photos, and any other information pertaining to the candidate’s race, nationality, gender, disabilities, and more.

Engagement—Research has found that many job descriptions contain unconscious bias, particularly when it comes to gendered wording. To combat this, RPO recruiters have found job ad analysis tools and linguistic decoding algorithms to be particularly useful in reviewing and editing job descriptions. Such tools automatically flag linguistics biases, such as masculine wording, in job advertisements.

Screening—Many tech tools allow RPO providers to conduct blind assessments of candidates. These tools attempt to test candidate skills and behavior as it will relate to their job performance through the use of problem-solving tasks, personality assessments, and more. Additionally, RPO consultants often harness AI and machine learning tools to automate candidate screening. AI can rank candidate applications based on how well each candidates align with the role, and can eliminate unconscious human bias from the resume sorting process.

Partnering with an RPO provider will give you access to these recruitment tools, which can otherwise be costly to acquire. Moreover, know that RPO specialists have years of experience with these tools and are experts at optimizing their tech stack to hire more diversely. They have also regularly test and upgrade the tools used to compile a tried and true tech stack.

Monitoring Workforce DE&I Metrics

Leading RPO providers will thoroughly monitor your organization's diversity and inclusion metrics before and after the implementation of an RPO solution. These metrics include:

  • How many diverse candidates have entered each stage of the recruitment cycle
  • The turnover rate of diversity hires
  • Diverse candidates’ satisfaction rates
  • Hiring manager satisfaction rates with each diverse hire

Having these metrics on hand yields several benefits, including:

Leadership Support—Almost always, hiring for diversity and inclusion requires the support of top management. By tracking diversity and inclusion metrics, RPO consultants can help you quantify the success of a DE&I strategy, giving you the leverage you’ll need for leadership buy-in and further investment into your DE&I strategy.

Candidate and Employee Satisfaction—As part of tracking your DE&I metrics, RPO providers will regularly conduct surveys to assess how satisfied diverse applicants and hiring managers are throughout the recruitment process, as well as within your organization. This will provide your organization with an objective point of view into how well your recruitment process is accommodating underrepresented groups.

Continuous ImprovementThe above metrics can be used to drive continuous improvement and ensure success in your DE&I efforts. Using DE&I diagnostics, your RPO partner can regularly evaluate areas of success in your DE&I journey. They can also identify any weaknesses and devise strategies for improvement.

DE&I Awareness Training

Some RPO consultants offer DE&I awareness training for hiring managers and senior leadership to educate them on how to recognize biases and effectively mitigate them. A true partner to your organization, they can customize each learning program according to your company’s DE&I outlook and vision, as well as integrate the training program with your existing efforts. Ultimately, these training programs are intended to:

  • Build awareness around what a diverse and inclusive workplace is
  • Highlight the impacts of subconscious biases
  • Showcase how DE&I hiring can benefit your organization’s business operations and bottom line
  • Drive stakeholder engagement in DE&I efforts
  • Educate hiring managers on how to be more inclusive at work and take responsibility for DE&I-related issues.

Throughout the DE&I learning program, your RPO partner will provide your internal team with relevant materials such as DE&I news and insights. They may also promote a diverse work environment by organizing DE&I-focused events.

DE&I Certification

In some cases, RPO providers may ensure that their talent acquisition experts as well as their sourcing, recruiting, and interviewing teams are DE&I certified. A DE&I-certified RPO team will have received in-depth training on DE&I recruitment best practices, and will have completed workshops and seminars on unconscious biases, diverse candidate sourcing, retaining diverse employees, engagement strategies, and more. Thus, a DE&I-certified RPO partner will have in-depth expertise when it comes to optimizing their sourcing strategies, technology skills, and resources to discover diverse and underrepresented candidates. With a DE&I-certified RPO consultant, you can ensure that they have the appropriate expertise to provide support to your DE&I strategy. One example of DE&I certification is The AIRS Certified Diversity and Inclusion Recruiter course.

From sourcing to onboarding, leading RPO providers will consider diversity & inclusion at every step of the recruitment process. An RPO partner can lend you their expertise and experience in navigating diverse candidate pools, as well as leverage advanced technology to locate diverse candidates. Through the use of diversity metrics, an RPO consultant can quantify the progress of your DE&I strategy to help you gain the influence you need for stakeholder buy-in. If you haven’t yet, take a look at our guide to building diversity in the workplace.


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