by Danica Chin, PLASKOLITE
Article two in the DEI+B series by the IAPD Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force

ecruiting top talent is an essential priority for many organizations. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles in the hiring process. To recruit qualified and diverse talent using DEI principles, organizations can begin by identifying and addressing any biases or barriers in their recruitment process that may prevent underrepresented groups (defined as racially or ethnically minoritized populations such as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino or Indigenous, as well as other realms such as gender minorities including women, nonbinary and neurodivergent populations) from applying or being considered for positions. By actively practicing or embodying DEI principles in their recruiting process, organizations can attract a larger pool of talented candidates and build a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Prerecruitment efforts

The first step in DEI implementation begins before recruiting starts. Revisiting job descriptions to ensure they are inclusive and free of discriminatory language is essential when recruiting diverse talent. Without intending to, job descriptions can exclude different groups of people based on the words or phrases used. While most know not to use gendered pronouns in job descriptions, gender-coded words can make candidates assume the role is meant for the opposite gender, even if they meet the listed qualifications. For example, some female gender-coded words are “sensitive, support, collaborate, nurture and trust.” Some male gender-coded words are “aggressive, driven, assertive, outspoken and independent.” Other descriptions, such as “fast-paced environments” or “varying work schedules,” might be perceived as a barrier for individuals who are also caregivers and have family commitments.

After removing barriers, prerecruitment efforts could include support structures and systems that help contribute towards belonging or accommodating unique needs. For example, organizing affinity-based groups, such as a Black Employee Resource Group, increases retention by more than 50% and is seen as a positive decision factor when considering company culture or environment (Whitten, 2023). Other support structures include paid family leave, offering on-site childcare or childcare reimbursement and promoting real work-life balance. Accommodations could consist of providing standing desks or larger monitors for folks with physical or attention considerations, or visual impairments.

To remove unintended or implicit gender bias, companies should assess their qualifications and requirements and remove the ones that are not essential or can be taught on the job. Identifying what a must-have and a nice-to-have requirement is in the job description will also be helpful. This is not to say there are not specific roles where these requirements are critical. However, evaluating the extent a person needs to meet these items will help broaden the candidate pool. Other considerations include detailing relevant experiences or transferable skills that could come from beyond the traditional sphere. For example, could a barber with attention to detail and the ability to perform repeatable tasks while maintaining high quality succeed as a manufacturing technician? If so, does the job description contain inclusive language so they believe they are qualified enough to apply? Other biases exist outside of gender bias that should be considered when writing job descriptions, such as racial, religious or age bias, to name a few. For instance, jobs that state candidates must be native English speakers or fluent in English can discourage people who speak English as a second language from applying. As an alternative, request that candidates be proficient in the English language. Requiring candidates to be “clean-shaven” can exclude those whose faith requires them to maintain facial hair and imply that the position is only for men. Stating that the candidate should have a professional appearance is a more inclusive requirement that people of different religions and gender identities can meet. Age bias is another unconscious bias that can occur when a hiring manager leans away from a specific candidate group based on stereotypes around a person’s age or generation. Avoid using words or phrases related to age, such as energetic, recent graduate, or seasoned. Instead, list requirements associated with the minimum number of years required, refer to positions as entry-level and describe the ideal candidate as goal-oriented or determined.

Abstract render of wooden block labeled with symbol of employer connected to multiple other blocks labelled with symbol of employees
Recruiting efforts
Another critical factor to consider is where candidates are being sourced. Using various sources when recruiting expands the pool of potential candidates, including those who do not have access to traditional recruiting channels or networks. For example, if a company only recruits from a specific university or job board, recruiters may miss out on candidates from other backgrounds or locations. By using multiple sources, a company can increase the number of candidates who apply and ensure a diverse set of applicants. However, using the same sources repeatedly can lead to unconscious bias and result in homogeneity in the applicant pool. Different sources can help mitigate this issue and give a broader perspective when evaluating candidates. This, in turn, can lead to a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Lastly, when using different sources, a company sends a clear message to candidates that the organization is committed to DEI. This can help attract candidates who value these principles and are more likely to thrive in a diverse and inclusive workplace. By casting a wider net and actively seeking out candidates from various backgrounds and experiences, you can create a stronger and more resilient team that can better meet the challenges of today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

Several recruiting resources are available for DEI, including employee referrals, social media, job boards, diversity-focused job sites, diversity and inclusion organizations and partnerships with educational institutions. Employee referrals can be a great way to increase diversity in the workplace as they can bring in candidates from diverse backgrounds who are already familiar with the company culture. Social media platforms, like LinkedIn and Facebook, can also be used to reach a wider audience and attract diverse candidates. Candidate-focused job sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Handshake can also help attract candidates from underrepresented groups. Additionally, partnerships with organizations and institutions focusing on diversity and inclusion can help create diverse talent pipelines.

Another method that can help decrease unconscious bias in the recruiting process is implementing blind résumé screenings. In a survey of hiring managers nearly 97% admit to using “intuition,” which could bring in different biases and 48% admitted that bias affects their candidate choice (Kuncel et al., 2014). In addition, removing candidate names and other identifying information can reduce unconscious bias and allow hiring managers to focus on what the applicants can bring to the organization.


Once candidates are selected for an interview, companies should ensure that different perspectives are represented in the selection process and that the chance of unconscious bias is reduced. This can be done by constructing a diverse interview panel that includes individuals from different races, genders, backgrounds and experiences. Taking this a step further, providing interviewers with DEI training on recognizing unconscious bias, whether their own or a colleague’s, how to conduct a fair and equitable interview and how to ask questions relevant to the position can help in these efforts.

Furthermore, organizations should prioritize creating a culture of belonging and inclusion where all employees feel valued and supported and where diversity is celebrated as a strength. This can involve providing diversity and inclusion training, implementing inclusive policies and practices and ensuring that underrepresented groups have the same opportunities for growth and advancement as their peers. By actively promoting DEI principles in their recruitment process, organizations can attract a wider pool of talented candidates and build a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

In summary
The IAPD DEI+B Task Force recommends actions to promote a diverse and inclusive environment that focus on:

  • Pre-recruitment efforts, particularly on removing biases and creating systems of support.
  • Recruitment efforts, particularly on broadening access and scope of sources.
  • Interview, particularly on the questions asked and the people asking them.
  1. Whitten, T. (2023).  Workplace Satisfaction on Inclusion and Turnover Intentions of Minority Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Retrieved from
  2. Kuncel, N. R., Ones, D. S., & Klieger, D. M. (2014, May). In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct. Harvard Business Review. Decision Making and Problem Solving. Retrieved from
Danica Chin is PLASKOLITE’s manager of recruiting and retention. For more information, contact PLASKOLITE at 400 West Nationwide Boulevard, Suite 400, Columbus, OH 43215-2394 USA; phone (614) 294-3281 or (800) 848-9124, fax (877) 538-0754, or