Be Real About Diversity and Your Employer Brand

Noun |  di·ver·si·ty | \də-ˈvər-sə-tē, dī-\

The condition of having or being composed of differing elements and “the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”

As a woman of color, I’ll admit, I cringe whenever I hear the phrase “diversity initiative” -- and I’ve heard it a lot throughout my 20-year career in recruiting and employer branding. Whenever the topic of diversity comes up, it’s usually race or gender related. However, many of us can agree, diversity is so much more than that. Diversity is also about understanding and embracing the differences that exist, not checking off the boxes.

Yes, I know the importance of underutilization numbers. But, I’ve always felt that if an organization was truly genuine -- and leaders stopped focusing solely on moving numbers or reaching some quota -- maybe “underutilization” would no longer be an issue.

Diversity isn’t just checking off the boxes. It’s understanding + embracing what exists. < Click to tweet!

Now, if you’re reading the exaqueo blog, you may be wondering how to increase diversity within your organization specifically through your employer brand. But, where should you begin? For starters, use your employer brand to tell an authentic story and just BE REAL. I know ... easier said than done.

So, to help you get started, here are six ways to diversify what you’re already doing.

Be authentic.

As a parent to twin high school seniors, from their first day of elementary school until now, I’ve always told them to “be genuine.” The same rule applies here. There’s no point in faking diversity or plastering “diversity and inclusion” throughout your career site if there isn’t any substance behind it.

The great thing about connecting your employer brand to social media is that it provides a window into what your organization is truly like. This can also be a bad thing if you’re publishing false or misleading content. Candidates and employees can see right through the “fake news”  and they won’t be afraid to call your organization out. So be authentic!

Highlight why, how, who and what makes your company diverse. And remember, it’s not just just about gender and ethnicity.

Empower your employees to snap the photos.

What if you don’t have a budget for a professional photographer to take images of your real employees? Diversify your marketing resources by leveraging the diverse skills of your employees! This can also help make your employer brand more authentic.

Let’s say you’re looking for a photographer to highlight a company event, but you don’t have a budget. Reach out to your employees and ask if any are photographer hobbyists. I guarantee there will be. They don’t have to possess a professional DSLR camera or even an expensive lens with f/2.8 aperture. Some of the most authentic and original pictures I’ve seen recently have been taken with a cell phone. All it takes is a good eye and passion.

Keep track of photographers at each of your office locations and once you start using employees as photographers, you’ll get authentic images capturing the true diversity of your organization.

Reveal and amplify across channels.

Emphasize the diverse nature of your organization on your external social media channels, careers website, and internally. After you’ve created your go-to list of employee photographers, showcase your diversity by capturing the true essence of your organization with genuine images of your employees doing what they love.

This can be employees in their day-to-day work environment or during their affinity group events meetings. Look at your career site and if doesn’t represent the true diversity of your organization, update it. Walk through the halls of your offices and if the photos represented are stock images, replace them.

Engage with employee groups.

Reach out to employee affinity groups and attend some of their meetings or events. Don’t just be present, be an active listener and participate. This will help you to identify what matters most to your employees and opportunities for employer brand content. Ask the members what made them join the group, what they enjoy most about the group, and how they feel they are making an impact inside and outside of work. While you’re at it, don’t forget to bring along one of your employee photographers to capture images.

All of this information can become excellent fodder for career site content, blog posts, social media updates, and even video scripts! These creative, employee inspired brand assets can then be shared externally to attract talent to your organization or internally to encourage other employees to get involved and support these groups.

Align before you publicize.

Effective employer branding never happens in a vacuum. Align yourself with your corporate communications and talent acquisition teams to understand their specific diversity priorities, and then leverage the strengths that each possess. Your talent acquisition team may be attending diversity recruiting events that a local employee photographer could tag along to. You can even share relevant images which could be useful for that specific event. It’s also important to partner with your corporate communications team to leverage their strengths and ensure your employer branding materials align with the overarching consumer brand.

As you think about your internal partners, it’s important to note that you should align yourself with your company’s legal team. They will advise you on how to best obtain talent release forms or any necessary publicity waivers when using real employee photos.

Let your true colors shine through.

Looking different is okay and I think that’s one of the most important takeaways. All employer brands are not alike.Your employer brand doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s or be similar to your fiercest competitors. You don’t have to slap glossy, professional stock images on every external facing site. Be genuine and true to what your company represents.

So that’s it. BE REAL. By diversifying what you’re already currently doing, you’ll better attract diverse talent, increase employee engagement, and strengthen your employer brand. You may even positively affect those underutilization numbers!

If you liked this post, check out this one: Employees Are Human Beings (And So Are You)

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