DEI Hiring: Creating a More Equitable Hiring Process

By DeVryWorks

August 16, 2023


Employers who want to cultivate a more diverse and equitable workplace should begin by taking a thoughtful look at how they can implement equitable hiring practices. Allowing common biases to persist in the recruitment and hiring process, restricting the talent pool with narrowly defined recruiting parameters, or trying to source diverse talent from the campuses of not-so-diverse educational institutions are examples of hiring practices that could be hindering efforts to diversify.


In this article, we will present several steps for improving equitable hiring practices and strategies for encouraging workplace diversity. We’ll begin with a discussion of the negative impact of bias on diversity and inclusion.

Recognizing Bias in the Hiring Process

When you understand how true workplace diversity — in race, gender, socioeconomic status, age and sexual orientation — benefits an organization, you begin to understand how bias can become a hard roadblock to achieving this diversity.

In recruiting ads and job descriptions, it’s important to use inclusive language that invites candidates in, rather than keeping them out. Team members who are responsible for writing job descriptions should know to avoid the use of jargon, gendered language or idioms that could make some potential candidates feel excluded.

Take an objective look at your process and consider best practices to creating an inclusive and equitable interviewing process. In candidate selection, are you letting the “just like me” syndrome creep in? That’s when hiring decision-makers choose candidates who look like them, talk like them or share the same interests. Their justification may be along the lines of “this person who shares my interests may be easier to work with,” but just-like-me hiring bias is antithetical to diversity. If allowed to continue, this bias will stand in the way of any meaningful progress toward an equitable hiring process.

The interview process is another area that may require firming up to achieve candidate equity. The candidate interview should consist of the same questions, asked in the same order, for each and every candidate. This ensures each candidate is given the same opportunity to share his or her story.

Steps for Improving Equitable Hiring Practices

Organizations looking to improve their hiring practices with a goal of finding and hiring diverse talent can follow a few basic guidelines.

Finding Diverse Talent

Attracting a wider pool of applicants begins with more inclusive job descriptions. In addition to the inclusive language mentioned earlier, the removal of arbitrary requirements is an effective measure towards inclusion. For example, rather than requiring a certain number of years of experience or skills that can easily be learned on the job, focus on the outcomes the candidate should strive to attain in the position. If you paint a picture of what success looks like in the role, rather than restricting applicants to a narrow set of requirements, you may find the talent pool deeper and more diverse.

To find a more diverse group of candidates, recruiters should look outside their traditional networks and resources. Posting job openings to diverse professional networks, for example, may be an effective means of attracting candidates from different backgrounds and with different experiences. Diversity job boards, targeted to serve jobseekers from a wide range of backgrounds including Black, Asian, Latinx, LGBTQ, veterans and others, are effective recruiting tools.

Unconscious bias has been described as the “silent killer” of even the best-laid plans to develop equitable hiring practices. It’s the tendency for managers to recruit in their image and to make fast judgements about people based on appearance, ZIP code, ethnicity and other characteristics. Here are a few ways recruiters can keep unconscious bias from creeping into the interview process and reduce interviewer bias:

  • To minimize the visual aspect of “first impression bias,” conduct a phone screen interview first. 

  • Consider replacing the 30-minute, one-to-one interview with a 2 to 3-person organized panel interview.

  • Use a talent scorecard that requires interviewers to provide evidence of the applicant’s competence and motivation to do the work.

  • Challenging yourself to think differently. Do your best to uncover your own biases and weaknesses, and to challenge them. For some, this is a big step outside of their comfort zone, but one that can make a big difference.

  • Asking only for the information you really need. The hiring process can be made as fair as possible by limiting inquiries to only what matters. This can be filtered using background-checker tools.

  • Asking a diverse range of colleagues to give your decision-making a sense-check. 

Another helpful practice toward building a more diverse talent pool is to look at the universities from which you’re recruiting. A simple question may be all that’s needed to reevaluate your approach: Are their student populations as diverse as you’d like your workforce to be?


The Hiring Process

Developing a hiring process that attracts, evaluates and hires qualified and diverse candidates takes a commitment to consistency and transparency. To achieve success, hiring managers and interviewers should receive the appropriate training, the resume review process should be assessed to be sure that it is inclusive, and interviews should be conducted In an unbiased manner.

Hiring managers and interviewers should ask, “What opportunities are we missing by doing business as usual, selecting the same candidates in the same ways that have served us well in the past? Who might we be leaving behind?"

A tactical question may be: In your efforts to make the process operate smoothly, or responding to a false sense of urgency, are you perpetuating a recruitment mindset that favors only those candidates who are representative of a white-dominant culture?

An inclusive resume review process neutralizes the effects of unconscious biases, allowing the best candidates to stand out regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or education history. The screening process can be made more inclusive by:

  • Conducting masked resume reviews: In a masked resume review, all non-essential demographic information, like name, address and schools, is stripped from the resume using software or a low-tech method (like a black marker). This allows reviewers to focus on candidates’ experience and qualifications. 

  • Using skills assessments instead: Pre-hire assessments may be a way to measure candidates’ skills and qualifications more objectively, while helping to level the playing field. It’s important, however, to make candidates aware early in the process that you’re assigning tasks as a way to mitigate resume-based biases, and not soliciting unpaid work.

  • Interviewing with a diverse team: A diverse interview team in video or in-person interviews can help to achieve better hiring results because team members can mitigate each other’s unconscious biases. Another advantage to this approach is that it removes the hiring decision from a single manager and improves the decision-making process through diversity of thought.

Conducting unbiased interviews is essential to an equitable hiring process. Your interview process can be adjusted to achieve better equity and inclusion by following a few simple guidelines.


If you plan to use video interviews, prepare all candidates for success equally by sharing, in advance, best practices that include recommendations for lighting and audio. Why is this necessary? Some candidates might be coming from professional backgrounds where video conferences aren’t common, or they may not have optimal technology or a quiet place in which to conduct their interview. Unpleasant background visuals or too much noise may impact interviewers’ perspectives of a candidate’s professionalism.


Interviews should be standardized. As mentioned earlier, this is helpful in mitigating bias, but it also helps to provide consistency across all candidates.


Take a critical look at the types of questions your interviewers are asking. Interview questions are often focused on specific experience, rather than skills. Instead of asking the candidate if they’ve “done” this or that, ask them how they would “approach” this or that.


Rather than relying on candidates’ own assessment of their abilities, work sample tests can be used to assess candidates’ skills more objectively. Candidates are asked to solve a problem that is similar to one the company might actually face, and their sample tests can be evaluated side by side. 


Employers have adopted tuition benefits programs as a way to solve for current and predicted skills gaps, but lack of inclusivity in tuition policies can work against their efforts to diversify management teams and achieve diversity in hiring.


In examining these policies to assess their impact on inclusivity and diversification initiatives, employers should ask: Are our tuition policies inclusive, or are they shutting out the very people they were intended to help? Tuition reimbursement policies that require employees to pay their tuition upfront are often underutilized. Because of an inability to pay for their education upfront, lower-income employees may be less likely to pursue higher education and, therefore, miss out on opportunities for professional development and career advancement. Over the long term, this stifled upward mobility contributes to a lack of diversity. A tuition benefits policy that allows the employer to pay the education institution directly, eliminating the need for the employee to borrow the money, pay their way and wait for reimbursement, may strengthen your long-term diversity and inclusion objectives.


Tuition benefits polices should also be flexible enough to meet the needs of employees in a variety of situations. Consider, for example, making the benefits available on “day one” of employment without a timeframe requirement, and allowing employees to use the benefit to pay down existing student loan debt.


Work-based learning programs, including apprenticeships, are another way to cultivate talent and help new employees without prior experience to work their way into new roles, acquiring on-the-job training and preparing for industry-applicable certification exams.

Strategies for Encouraging Diversity in the Workplace

Going beyond diversity in hiring, how do you elevate employees and cultivate diverse management teams? One proactive strategy is to build pathways and opportunities for them to excel. For its 2023 Talent Outlook Study, DeVryWorks, the workforce solutions partner of DeVry University, surveyed 300 managers, directors and executives and found that professional development programs can be effective in closing skills gaps. Creating skills pathways that solve for current needs, as well as anticipated gaps, is a way to “future proof” an organization.

Other strategies for building an inclusive culture include:

  • Recognizing that your workforce is stronger when it is made up of a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, of different races, religions, genders and orientations, and creating an environment that champions DEI.

  • Setting goals and implementing accountability measures to track your progress towards goal achievement.

  • Supporting employee resource groups (ERGs). These voluntary, employee-led groups are formed to foster a more diverse workplace and have been credited with improving work conditions for alienated workers, making improvements to the physical work environment and identifying and developing emerging organizational leaders.

  • Creating an action plan to achieve more diversity in management roles. Mentorship and sponsorship programs can be effective toward this objective, as can tuition benefits that enable employees to gain the education needed to advance to management roles.

  • Providing DEI training for all employees, at all levels of the organization.

  • Hosting regular conversations to allow employees to discuss DEI-related subjects in a forum that is candid, open and non-judgmental, and conducting regular employee feedback surveys that take the “DEI pulse” of your organization.

At DeVry University, we’re developing a diversity, equity and inclusion-focused course to be included in all of our programs, by 2025. We’ve also recently launched a DEI badge program to provide recognition of the completion of a DEI program. Your company could do the same.

How DeVryWorks Can Help Advance Your DEI Initiatives

At DeVryWorks, we can help you solve current and predicted talent gaps by designing customized learning pathways to upskill and reskill team members. We can also help you develop an inclusive tuition benefits program that addresses your talent succession challenges, aligns with your DEI initiatives and helps to maximize employee engagement and retention.

Contact us today to discover what DeVryWorks can do for your organization.

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