Diversity Inclusion in the Hiring Process

Over the past decade, an increasing number of enterprises and organizations have been prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) criteria in the workplace, including in their hiring and promotion process. According to a 2020 analysis by Gartner, the demand for diversity-informed recruiters rose 800% between 2017-18 and 2019-20. 

Glassdoor research showed that 69% of executives considered diversity and inclusion to be an important issue in 2017, a 32% increase over 2014. Since then, a coalition of more than 2,000 CEOs have committed to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge, which involves cultivating a workplace that welcomes diverse experiences and perspectives and encouraging an environment where employees feel comfortable to discuss diversity and inclusion issues. 

A brief history of inclusive hiring 

It’s been nearly six decades since the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was founded to enforce Title VII of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited hiring discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Subsequently, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) added age as a protected class, shielding certain applicants and employees 40 and older from discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, and other conditions of employment.  

Twenty-six years later, in 1990, the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. Title 1 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations with 15 or more employees from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. 

While the workforce has become significantly more diverse since then, there is still a way to go to fully eliminate employment bias, particularly at the management level and above.  

Today’s workplace diversity 

According to a 2021 workplace diversity study by Zippia, the U.S. labor market is currently comprised of 61% White workers, 17% Hispanic or Latino, 13% Black, 6% Asian, 2% Biracial, and 1% Native American, which is roughly reflective of race distribution in the overall population.  

In 2019, women represented 47% of the workforce, while making up 50.8% of the nation’s adult population. However, CNN reported that by 2021, the pandemic had reversed some progress, as female-dominant industries were hit hard at the same time that child-care responsibilities increased due to school and day-care closures. 

What’s more, the “glass ceiling” still presents a significant barrier, as evidenced by a wide gap at the management and executive levels for all women in general, and for intersectional women of color and those with disabilities in particular. For detailed statistics, see: Women in the Workplace 2021, which reports on an annual survey conducted by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org of 65,000 employees at 423 organizations across corporate America. 

When it comes to both women and men of color, they represent only 10% and 18% of senior-level positions, respectively. 

Age-wise, at present, older workers 55+ represent 23.8% of the workforce—a figure that is expected to rise as the huge Baby Boomer cohort grows older. A November 2021 article in TED: The Economics Daily (a BLS publication) stated, “The labor force is expected to increase by 8.9 million, or 5.5 percent, from 2020 to 2030. The labor force of people ages 16 to 24 is projected to shrink by 7.5 percent from 2020 to 2030. Among people aged 75 years and older, the labor force is expected to grow by 96.5 percent over the next decade.” 

While the workforce has become more diverse in general, unemployment still disproportionately affects minorities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, while the overall national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in 2019, it was higher for people who are Black (6.1 percent) and Hispanic or Latinx (4.3 percent). In 2020, the unemployment rate for disabled people rose to 7.9 percent. 

BLS statistics also show that only 19.1% of the disabled population was employed in 2021, compared to 63.7% of people without disabilities. That is reflected in the McKinsey study cited above, where only about 25% of respondents reported that their company prioritizes people with disabilities in its DEI efforts, compared to 40+% who said their company focuses on gender and sexual orientation and nearly 60% who say their company prioritizes race.  

What is diversity hiring? 

Diversity, or inclusive, hiring incorporates practices aimed at identifying and eliminating potential bias—whether intentional or unconscious—in the recruitment, screening, hiring, and advancement of employees with regard to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disabilities, and other criteria not directly related to job performance.  

The goal of inclusive hiring is to level the playing field for all, by making employment decisions based solely on merit and job-related skills, while avoiding discrimination against qualified, diverse candidates from underrepresented groups or those with unique personal characteristics. Although fair hiring practices have been required by law in the U.S. for more than five decades, many organizations continue to fall short in their efforts. 

Inclusive hiring is more than just fulfilling a quota—it’s about proactively seeking out diversity and values qualities and perspectives candidates can contribute that are different from the “norm.” Companies today need to recognize the presence of a wide range of diversity and identifications that are far beyond the standard protected classes discussed above, such as BIPOC, indigenous, veteran status, neurodiversity, LGBTQIA+, nonbinary (genderqueer), and the intersectionality of multiple classes and minorities.  

Why is diversity hiring important for enterprises? 

Although a few corporations continue to cling to outmoded hiring practices that favor the status quo, diversity inclusion is the future of U.S. business—and companies can no longer afford to ignore this. Beyond just lip service, enterprises need to proactively place DEI initiatives front and center for the following reasons: 

  1.  Changing demographics

The most compelling motive to prioritize inclusive hiring is the reality of accelerating demographic trends that are already making the workplace older and more diverse. By 2044, projections show that traditionA11y underrepresented classes, together, will make up a majority of the U.S. population for the first time. 

A 2018 Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau datafound that 48% of the post-Millennial generation (born between 1997 and 2012, also known as Gen-Z) are non-white and more likely to pursue a college education (59%) than their Millennial predecessors (53%). This generation began graduating from high school in 2015 and college in 2019; as they have already been in the workforce for several years, their impact will continue to grow as they age. 

  1. Attracting and retaining the best talent

To stay competitive, enterprises must continuA11y attract, recruit, retain, and promote highly qualified workers—which is especiA11y challenging in today’s volatile job market. The inclusion focus of employers has become an increasingly significant consideration for job candidates and existing employees alike. Extensive research by Glint emphasizes this importance, finding that employees with a strong experience of belonging are more than six times likely to be engaged and doing their best work than those who don’t feel like they belong. 

In a 2017 Deloitte study of 1,300 people who work at a wide range of industries and organizations, 80% said that a company’s diversity efforts were a principal factor when selecting an employer. Similarly, 76% of job seekers and employees in a 2020 Glassdoor survey indicated that they evaluate workforce diversity when assessing potential new positions. 

For long-term results, it is imperative that DEI efforts go beyond mere representation to becoming fully integrated into your company’s culture and ways of doing business. Half of workers surveyed by Zippia want their employer to more actively promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In the same Deloitte survey cited above, 39% of respondents said they would leave their current employer for a more inclusive one, and 23% already had done so, including 30% of Millennial respondents. 

      3. Boost your enterprise’s ESG rating

When it comes to inclusive hiring practices, it is simply the right thing to do ethicA11y, beyond the legal EEOC requirements. Your organization’s workforce should reflect the diversity of your customer base at all levels up to the boardroom. 

Inclusion is also the best business strategy throughout all areas of operation.  

Diversity hiring, along with other DEI initiatives, directly affects your enterprise’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) score. This in turn makes your brand more attractive to customers, shareholders, and investors who value non-financial performance factors and seek out companies that are committed to making a positive impact in the world. 

Bottom-line benefits of inclusive hiring  

Industry research shows that your focus on employing a diverse workforce and leadership will also result in more tangible, financial benefits, and a significant return on investment (ROI). In general, enterprises with strong, company-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives statisticA11y outperform those that don’t prioritize diversity. 

Business statistics compiled by Zippia show that: 

  • Diverse companies generate 2.3 times more cash flow per employee. 
  • Gender-diverse companies perform 15 to 21% better than companies with little or no gender diversity. 
  • Companies with raciA11y and ethnicA11y diverse leadership teams have a 36% higher likelihood of financiA11y outperforming companies with little or no diversity. 

Why is this the case? EssentiA11y, inclusive hiring means welcoming a wider variety of experience, backgrounds, and viewpoints to your enterprise. Diverse employees, managers, and executives will bring in different perspectives that offer new, often more effective approaches and solutions. According to BuiltIn,” Research has shown that having diverse talent on board leads to higher levels of productivity, innovation, and performance…[and] improve[s] employee retention rates, which further promotes the positive brand…” 

It’s important to keep in mind that a company’s bottom line and reputation can also be adversely impacted by disparate treatment claims. The EEOC reported that in 2020, workplace discrimination charges totaled more than 67,000, with a cost to U.S. employers of nearly $440 million in lawsuits and settlements.  


What is inclusive (diversity) hiring? 

Inclusive hiring is embraced by companies as a means of avoid discrimination against qualified, diverse job candidates from underrepresented groups or those with unique personal characteristics. The goal of diverse hiring practices is to identify and eliminate potential bias against applicants—whether intentional or unconscious—related to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disabilities, and other criteria unrelated to job performance, and make employment decisions based solely on merit and job-related skills.  

Why is diversity hiring important? 

Diversity hiring levels the playing field for all during the recruitment, screening, and advancement of employees, while helping organization create a more inclusive culture. As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, this should be reflected by the workforce at all tiers, from entry level to executive. Inclusive hiring practices allow companies to attract and retain the best talent in today’s competitive environment, make an ethical stand for equal opportunity hiring. 

What are the benefits of inclusive hiring? 

Enterprises that commit to diversity hiring practices often enjoy improved productivity, better financial performance, increased revenues, greater cash flow, higher ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) scores, and enhanced brand reputation. 

Diversity Hiring for the Win! 

With the nation’s population and workforce becoming increasingly diverse, companies who ignore this trend may be at risk of extinction. Inclusive hiring and retention practices should be a business imperative, along with supplier diversity and other DEI and ESG initiatives, for any enterprise that wants to succeed throughout the 21st century and beyond.  

That’s why Allyable is proud to be growing our team of diverse employees—starting with our own CEO, who has severe hearing loss. As the only major DOBE-certified digital accessibility provider, Allyable has built its entire culture upon the mission of making digital assets equA11y accessible for all, from the inside out. If you would like to do the same in your organization, see the companion article, “9 Ways to Improve Inclusive Hiring in Your Company.” 

Selecting Allyable as your digital accessibility solution can also support your DEI initiatives in other areas, such as supplier diversity and ESG scoring, as well as boosting your bottom line through increased sales to customers with disability or age-related impairments.  

If you have more questions, or would like to schedule a discovery call, please contact us at info@allyable.com. 

ABOUT Allyable  

Allyable is driven by a passion to create a more connected world for all with a fast, simple, affordable platform to meet international web content accessibility guidelines. We offer the only completely SaaS, end-to-end, AI (artificial intelligence) product-based, in-house enterprise technology solution that addresses every digital accessibility compliance need from the user’s side to source code. Our comprehensive, 360-degree suite of tools streamlines compliance with automation technology, machine learning, AI crowdsourcing, and advanced image processing—empowering enterprise web teams around the globe to make their internet content and digital assets equA11y accessible to people living with disabilities. Allyable is proud to be a DOBE-certified supplier. 

Learn more about our digital accessibility solutions at allyable.com