Cultural Diversity Recruitment: How to Turn Your Recruits On


diversity recruitment

Passive Cultural Diversity Recruitment Programs Are So Yesterday

A passive cultural diversity recruitment program has brochures with more people of color than exists in the organization. The website tells the audience about the organization’s cultural diversity aspirations rather than its successes. Such passive approaches, not surprisingly, lead to less than stellar results. In contrast, the active cultural diversity program projects the benefits of working for the organization. It tells the recruit what’s in it for them.

diversity recruitment

Avoid the “We are an Equal Opportunity EmployerStatement

A good example of a “passive” approach is the equal opportunity employer statement. It goes something like this. We are committed to equal treatment of all employees without regard to race, national origin, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, and physical or mental disability. It may be necessary to advertise for legal purposes but does not make the organization more welcoming. It is a good example of what does little to turn on the audience.

A formal recruitment structure must be in place that reflects the organization’s “active” efforts to increase cultural diversity. Below is a list of Active Recruitment techniques based on social science research findings (See learning resources at the end of the article).

The Ten Active Cultural Diversity Recruitment Practices

diversity recruitment

  1. Develop advertising materials that clearly convey how the organization “actively” recruits for cultural diversity.

  2. Design the website in ways that reflect how cultural diversity is a key part of the organization’s overall mission and vision.

  3. Utilize networks with organizations, such as the National Society of Black Engineers or Women in Technology (WITI), to leverage word of mouth marketing.

  4. Show that the organization offers employee support systems, such as ERG groups, mentors, sponsors, and a cultural diversity office.

  5. Have a cultural diversity officer with a staff and direct access to the leader of the organization. Recruit a certified diversity professional and staff if necessary.

  6. Provide information in the interview that gives the cultural diversity recruits a sense of the organization’s culture, climate, and support for success—while they are deciding on a commitment to the institution. Your honesty will be appreciated and perhaps even rewarded.

  7. Get the leader of the organizations and the leadership team actively engaged in the recruitment.

  8. Hire new recruits in cohorts. One organization brought in ten new recruits of color at the same time. The recruits do not need to share the same race or culture, but it may help. It is more important to give them a sense that they are a group coming aboard at the same time. Provide them with orientation training that emphasizes cross-cultural team building among them.

  9. Recruit role models, advisors, and mentors to pair with each new cultural diversity employee. Same culture or race models are ideal but less important than the mentor’s enthusiasm and engagement.

  10. Implement ongoing evaluations of the new recruits’ experiences to assess how the recruitment and onboarding processes can improve.


Cultural diversity recruitment is not easy. It takes a plan that actively engages the entire organization in efforts to attract, recruit, and retain talent from cultures that have not been included in the past. Effective practices go beyond affirmative action and equal opportunity employment policies. Taking an active approach requires focusing on the needs of the potential recruits, putting success systems in place for recruits, and helping applicants see the value in joining the organization.  


Glass, Christy, & Minnotte, Krista Lynn (2010). Recruiting and hiring women in STEM fields. National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Thomason, Timothy C. (1999). Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol 5(4), Nov. pp. 308-316.

Smith, Leann V., Blake, Jamilia J., Graves, Scott L. Jr., Vaughan-Jensen, Jessica., Pulido, Ryne., & Banks, Courtney (2016). Promoting diversity through program websites: A multicultural content analysis of school psychology program websites. School Psychology Quarterly, Vol 31(3), September, Developing an Evidence-Base from Current Research and Practice. pp. 327-339.

Gasman, Marybeth, Kim, Jessica, & Nguyen, Thai-Huy (2011). Effectively recruiting faculty of color at highly selective institutions: A school of education case study. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Vol 4(4), December. pp. 212-222.


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