As recruiters, it is important for us to hold businesses accountable for diversity, and the way to do that is to be a business partner and trusted advisor with hiring managers. Many hiring managers do not hire very often, and it is up to a recruiter, whether in-house or agency, to advise hiring managers and not just take an order. As recruiters, we observe and have a broad understanding of what is happening in the market on a daily basis, and it is our job to take that market intelligence to the hiring managers we work with.

The first step is to understand what diversity is. According to Built In (, “Diversity in the workplace means that an organization employs a diverse team of people that’s reflective of the society in which it exists and operates. Unfortunately, determining what makes a team diverse isn’t so simple.

Diversity incorporates all of the elements that make individuals unique from one another, and while there are infinite differences in humans, most of us subconsciously define diversity by a few social categories, such as gender, race, age and so forth. To review the four types of diversity, there is a thorough article by Alliant International University
In the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws to protect individual employees in the workplace based on specified social categories that commonly face discrimination in American culture. These social categories are typically defined in some version of a Non-Discrimination Statement and Policy, such as this one by the US government:

“The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.”

There are certainly more visible and invisible elements that make individuals diverse from one another than those defined by these statements, but these broad categories can help companies identify gaps in diversity. They also provide measurable metrics for companies to set goals and make concerted efforts to boost diversity in the workplace. When working with a hiring manager, it’s important to have a strong kick off meeting to talk through what is important to them with respect to hard and soft skills in a candidate, but also where there is flexibility. Many recruiters often rush through the process and are eager to just get the job filled. While speed is important, it’s also critical to make sure you are working with the hiring manager on why they need certain skills, and where there can be flexibility, especially if you come across a diverse candidate that is a strong cultural match, or someone that might bring diversity of thought.

It’s also important to not rely only on titles when reviewing a candidate’s profile. Sometimes titles do not tell the entire story, and it’s important to pick and choose where you can push back on a hiring manager, especially where the individual fits the criteria they are looking for, but has a non-traditional background. If they end up hiring that individual, it’s a good way to earn their trust.

The bottom line is that for a recruiter to hold a business accountable for diversity, they need to understand what a diverse candidate is, and be a strong business partner to the hiring manager, not just a resume service.