Dear Advocate

Hey Jess,

I’m part of the management team in my organization and we’re actively working to create a more diverse workplace. In the past five years, we’ve put a lot of time, energy and resources into creating more gender balance and it’s starting to pay off—we are now over 40% female, which is way above the industry average for companies like ours who employ a lot of engineers and have been heavily male dominated for much of our history.

Now we’re expanding our focus to diversity efforts beyond just gender—race, ethnicity, country of origin and religion. Our leadership team knows increasing diversity in our organization isn’t about quotas or headcount goals, but that it will really have a powerful impact on the work we can do now and in the future.

But here’s the problem that no one wants to say out loud: Our college recruiting program has been our biggest source of finding talented new employees. We are based in Indiana and our recruiting efforts typically pull from schools in the state that don’t always provide us with a diverse candidate pool to choose from.

How are we supposed to increase our diversity efforts if we aren’t finding qualified candidates that don’t look, sound, think and believe like the rest of us?

Thanks in advance,



Thanks for saying the quiet part out loud, Advocate. Your organization will be better for it.

Creating greater diversity in your company begins with creating greater diversity in your hiring—and that requires you to recruit from more places and in different ways. If you are relying on a handful of predominately white institutions (PWIs) in Indiana, one of the most immediate things you can do is expand where you’re looking.

What might seem relatively simple can make a big impact. If you want a more diverse workforce, recruit from more diverse places to build more diverse pools of candidates. Just think of the plethora of diverse institutions across the United States: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Minority Institutions (MIs) among others.

Lots of companies have started to catch on to this trend, however, they’re recruiting in the obvious places: The big, well-known names in these categories. Between HSIs and HBCUs, there are over 600 institutions across the U.S, and your best future employees may be among them.

This solution is just a tiny sliver of an overall strategy to create a more diverse workforce – and it only addresses one type of diversity that can be brought into an organization. Frankly many of our challenges in creating more diverse workforces, start with the wrong question. We’re asking, “How can we be more diverse?” The question you should be asking is, “What are the places where we can access more diverse candidates?” or “What can we do to be a place diverse candidates want to work?”

It’s not simple or easy, but it is worth it. Studies show that companies who have a more diverse workforce, particularly in leadership, are more profitable and are valued higher than companies who don’t. So for anyone who’s mind can’t be won with the argument that, “it’s the right thing to do,” there happens to be a good business case for it, too.


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