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How to Attract more Diverse Executive Assistant Talent


Diversity in the workplace is important, and not just from a moral standpoint. 

It stands to reason that people from different backgrounds and with different experiences of the world bring different viewpoints and ideas to a company. Diverse companies benefit from more creativity and greater innovation, and as a result, they also tend to have higher revenue than similar, less-diverse companies.

A diversity study conducted by McKinsey found a “statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance.” They found that these results stretched across types of diversity, such as race, gender, LGBTQIA+, ability/disability, age, and religion. Diverse companies quite simply financially outperform non-diverse companies.

Perhaps you are well aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce, but find your company struggling to implement diverse staffing solutions. Many hiring managers find they want to hire diverse candidates, but just don’t see that many coming through the recruiting pipeline. The hard truth to face is that there is no shortage of qualified, diverse candidates, so why aren’t you able to find diversity candidates for your Executive Assistant positions?

The problems, and also the solutions, lie in your hiring process. Diversity in the workplace doesn’t just happen. You need to make diversity in hiring a priority, and take steps to ensure it happens. Here, we outline some things to consider and steps to take if you are looking to make your hiring process more attractive to diverse Executive Assistant candidates.

Start by Addressing Workplace Culture

First things first. Diversity is not just some box that you check and then move on. If your workplace is not conducive to the exchange of different ideas and open to opposing points of view, then you will reap none of the benefits of diversity.

To do this, you must commit to celebrating differences, and encouraging an open dialogue among your employees. Make learning from one another a priority. Otherwise, you will hire diverse employees only to have them find their voices not heard in an unreceptive office environment. This can lead to turnover, putting you right back where you started.

In addition to creating a conducive office environment consider adding working benefits preferred by more diverse Executive Assistant candidates. For instance, the #1 benefit desired by women is flexible scheduling. If you want to attract more women, consider implementing flexible working hours. If you wish to add other types of diverse candidates, research which benefits are important to them.

For example, it makes sense that the ability to work from home would be particularly helpful to those who live further from the city center. Quite often, more diverse neighborhoods are further from office locations. Another way to attract and retain candidates like this would be to offer remote working options. Increasingly, executives are embracing the idea of having an Executive Assistant work remotely. Often if an executive travels extensively across different time zones they retain several work sites and the physical location of their assistant is not relevant.   So if you want to attract and retain a diverse workforce, offering these more flexible working arrangements are great ways to do so.

The Initial Search

Now that you have considered ways to make your workplace conducive to diversity, you are ready to begin the job-posting process, with diverse staffing solutions in mind.

The Job Description

Be careful that the wording in the job description itself does not drive away diverse candidates from the start. Avoid terminology that is specific to one gender. Harvard Business School found that certain terminology used in job descriptions appeals more to one gender than the other. For instance, words like “dominant” and “competitive” will draw in men more than women, whereas words such as “supportive” and collaborative” tend to attract women. It is best to avoid terminology that makes the role feel gendered in either direction.

In the job description, you can also include information on the company’s commitment to diversity. It is common to see anti-discrimination verbiage, but you may want to go one step further and state the importance of diversity to your company. Mentioning specific aspects of your benefits and corporate culture in the job description is another way to back up this commitment to diversity.

Where You Search

Interestingly, when looking to attract more diverse applicants, some common recruitment practices must be turned on their heads. For instance, employee referrals are one of the most common ways to find great candidates. Unfortunately, the demographics of those referred to you will often reflect the existing demographics within your organization.This is not always the case, but you need to be explicit and communicate to your employees that you are looking to expand the diversity within your workforce when asking for referrals.

Job boards are, of course, also commonly used during the recruitment process. Interestingly, when looking to recruit women, job boards may be effective, as more women than men use job boards in their search.

However, if you are looking to expand diversity in your workforce, you should pick out specific types of job boards. For instance, if you peruse LinkedIn, you can find job boards and groups that cater to specific diverse groups. Actively establish a presence within those groups and post on those job or message boards, rather than just posting on the generic job boards you usually use.

Diverse Colleges and Groups

If you are really looking to expand diversity within your organization in a meaningful way, you may need to take a step further, and establish connections with diverse colleges and other more diverse groups. Make it clear to leaders in these colleges and groups that you have a true commitment to diversity in your hiring practices, and that you want to partner with them in order to provide opportunities to people in their network.

Another way to augment these efforts is  to sponsor events at diverse colleges. Attend career fairs and other networking events. Make your presence known and be genuine in your efforts.

The Screening and Interview Process

Once you’ve gotten the word out about the position or positions to a more diverse set of applicants than you would normally see, make sure to continue your efforts. Some of the following suggestions relate to avoiding unconscious discrimination, while others are more targeted at actively involving diverse people in the process itself.

Name-Blind Software

Unconscious bias often means that women and people of diverse backgrounds are discriminated against from the moment their name is read by the screening person. If you are actively seeking out women and people of color or varied ethnic backgrounds, you may not need to use this software, as hopefully this discrimination will not take place. However, this software can block out the name as well as the name of the college attended, thereby keeping these factors from consciously or unconsciously impacting initial assessments negatively.

Personality Assessment

Once you have implemented methods to expand the diversity of your applicant pool, consider using a personality test to select the best candidates, again mitigating the potential for bias. This can help determine whether a candidate would fit well in the position and within your company. It has been found that personality assessments do not show adverse impact, which means that they do not differ for those in minority groups. This can allow you to narrow down your search without having unconscious bias get in the way and unfairly eliminate diverse applicants.

Use a Diverse Hiring Panel

Even if your company’s leadership is primarily white and male, bring in more diverse leaders within your company to help with the hiring process. This serves many purposes. It lets interviewees know that you value diversity, and that they may have the opportunity to advance within the company. It also provides you with assessments by people from a variety of backgrounds.

Keep Trying

If you find that you have gone through a round of screening and your pool is less diverse than you had hoped, give it another go. Even if you have one very promising diverse applicant, research shows that you really need more diverse representation in the finalist candidate pool.

The Harvard Business Review uncovered some shocking numbers that support this necessity. In a study they conducted, they found that in a finalist pool, if there were at least two female candidates vs. just one, the odds of hiring a woman were 79.14 times greater. The disparity is even more shocking with race, where they found that the odds of hiring a minority were 193.72 times greater if there were two or more minority candidates in the finalist pool.

All this to say, it is not good enough to have one diverse candidate in your interview pool, as the chances are statistically insignificant that that person will be hired. So either do better in your search at the beginning, take another look through your existing applicants, or try again. The candidates do exist — you are just not doing everything within your power to attract them.

Final Thoughts

A commitment to diversity benefits your company in myriad ways, but it is easier said than done when it comes to changing your hiring practices. Follow the advice above, and focus on working on what you need to change to make your company a better place to work for women and people of color. And don’t forget that diversity comes in many forms, and your focus should extend to people of all ages, religions, abilities, genders and backgrounds. Increasing diversity in the workforce is an ongoing process. Commit to celebrating and learning from differences, and ultimately you and your company will benefit from doing that.

If you need help improving  your hiring process to be more inclusive and including a more diverse slate for your Executive Assistant positions, C-Suite Assistants is here to help with your executive assistant staffing services across the United States. Contact us today to find out how we can help you recruit more diverse Executive Assistant candidates.

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