How Can Staffing, Recruiting and Executive Search Firms Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion?

June 11, 2019 by Verified First

Bullhorn and Verified First Diversity and Inclusion

As written by our partners at Bullhorn. For more information on Bullhorn's integration with Verified First click here.

There’s a global conversation happening around diversity and inclusion (D&I) right now, and the topic is especially pertinent to those who put the world to work. But is the conversation merely lip service or are industry professionals (and their clients) committed to D&I? And is everyone on the same page when it comes to the benefits of diversity in the workforce?

To find out, we asked staffing professionals for their D&I thoughts in our Global Recruitment Insights & Data (GRID) report of over 2,000 staffing professionals. And what about executive search? Invenias and MIX Diversity Developers, a boutique consultancy firm specializing in D&I, conducted a global survey of over 300 executive search professionals to determine the impact that diversity is likely to have on their working practices. Here are some of the top takeaways.

Industry Pros Are Divided on Diversity

Bullhorn and Verified First integration

The first step towards making progress on D&I is to prioritize it as a business. Unfortunately, industry professionals are split on the benefits of diversity, and they’re divided on whether diversity should be a priority at all.

Roughly three out of five staffing professionals believe that diverse organizations are more effective than non-diverse counterparts, but respondents were evenly split on the current state of diversity in the industry. More staffing pros than not (44 percent compared to 41 percent) believe there isn’t a diversity problem in the industry. And more senior executives were even less likely to see a diversity problem in the industry.

Firms that do prioritize D&I, however, will be well-positioned to meeting client demand, as clients are proactively taking steps to up their D&I efforts.

Diversity is a Priority for Your Clients

The Invenias survey of executive search professionals found that executive search clients are increasingly making D&I-related requests. Respondents overwhelmingly reported that D&I is a priority area for their clients, and over half have received requests for diverse long-lists. And fully half of respondents felt they had a role to play in advising their client to choose an appropriately reflective short list.

As more and more businesses recognize the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce, it’ll become increasingly beneficial for your firm to have strategies in place to help advance these efforts. D&I doesn’t happen overnight, so firms that work on D&I efforts now will be more equipped to handle these needs now and in the future.

D&I Efforts Require Intention

At our Engage Boston conference in 2017 and 2018, we addressed the importance of creating a diverse and inclusive workforce both internally within our companies and externally for our clients. At Jackye Clayton’s highly-attended diversity session in 2018, Diversity and Inclusion: Thinking Beyond the Obvious, noted that buy-in is needed from the top. Sometimes, this requires paying attention to the evidence around you. As she noted in her session, if you’re use stock-photo marketing to represent your company instead of actual pictures from your office because you have a lack of diversity, it’s a huge sign you need to make a change.  

And once you have buy in, you need to make a deliberate action plan, because D&I efforts won’t happen accidentally.

Make D&I Efforts Happen

What are industry professionals doing to bolster their D&I efforts?  Fifty percent of the executive search professionals surveyed in the Invenias report use gender neutral language in job advertisements and descriptions and a third take proactive steps to avoid unconscious bias. Thirty-three percent remove indicators of ethnicity and gender  from resumes.

Persuading clients to consider other talent pools is another key way to improve D&I efforts. Sixty-five percent say it would be easier to cultivate diverse talent if clients were more open to candidates from a different industry sector (65%). As one respondent noted, ‘getting clients out of their safe comfort zone is a challenge,’ but the firms who prioritize D&I—internally and externally—can realize innumerable benefits in the present and the future.


For more information on hiring for diversity and inclusion, visit Verified First's pet-themed D&I resource center. There, you'll find a pack of resources on how to attain diverse hires and implement objectivity into your hiring practices.

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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