A step-by-step guide to sourcing diverse candidates

AboveBoard | Mar 15, 2023

Best practices and strategies for diverse executive recruitment.

Sourcing diverse candidates is a comprehensive process, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Today, more companies than ever before are committed to diversifying their leadership ranks. But setting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals is just the beginning. Crafting a diversity sourcing strategy is a crucial next step in building a resilient, diverse organization. 

In this article, we’ll outline diversity and inclusion sourcing strategies from a high-level and then dive into specific diversity sourcing techniques to make your recruitment and hiring processes more inclusive and, ultimately, more diverse. Let’s get started.

Diversity sourcing strategies and best practices

Diversity sourcing requires reflection, creativity, and engagement. Here are five steps you can incorporate into your diversity sourcing strategy today.

Audit your current hiring process 

Successful diversity and inclusion sourcing strategies begin with taking an inventory of your current hiring process. What are your current procedures, and what changes or adjustments are needed to make it more inclusive and attractive to diverse candidates?

Here are a few steps to launch your hiring process audit:

  • Remove potential barriers. Job listings, company profiles, and other pieces of information that could help people make informed decisions should be as accessible as possible.
  • Incorporate inclusive job descriptions. Review hiring materials for language that is inclusive, e.g. use gender neutral language rather than masculine language, which is shown to reinforce gender inequalities in male-dominated fields.
  • Set diversity goals using regional demographic data. Consider the context and community you’re in, and set diversity goals accordingly. This will help your organization become more reflective of the population you serve.
  • Highlight benefits that appeal to a wide range of candidates. For example, policies like remote or flexible work can be especially valuable for disabled workers or caretakers. 

Clarify your employee value proposition

Sourcing diverse candidates requires attracting diverse candidates. Though this may seem intuitive, a diversity sourcing strategy that fails to account for a compelling employee value proposition isn’t likely to succeed. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines an employee value proposition (EVP) “as part of an employer's branding strategy that represents everything of value that the employer has to offer its employees. Items such as pay, benefits and career development are common, but employers also highlight offerings that are currently in demand—like technology, remote work and flexible scheduling.” Making your employee value proposition clear can boost your chances of attracting a diverse candidate pool. 

Harvard Business Review breaks down the employee value proposition into four sectors: material offerings, growth and development, connection and community, and meaning and purpose. Take the time to identify your organization’s strengths within these categories, and you’ll come out with a clear, compelling vision for why diverse candidates will find their fit at your company.

Tap into new connections

Traditional methods of executive recruitment often come short when it comes to diversity. To get new results, you’ll need to find new avenues of connecting with historically underrepresented job candidates. Diversity sourcing strategies to widen your applicant pool include:

  • Build relationships with diverse college organizations. Reach out to organizations at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), vocational schools, tribal colleges, and community colleges to learn more about how you can partner together to provide career resources and opportunities for current students and alumni. This is not only one diversity sourcing solution that could help you recruit diverse hires from within your community, it’s also a strategy that can diversify your pipeline over the long-term. 
  • Seek out community-based groups. Professional associations or clubs for young professionals and people of color can be an excellent resource for building diverse connections within your community. The more your organization can reflect the diversity and the values of the community around you, the better service you’ll be able to offer. Plus, this can lead to relationships that can support diversity sourcing. 
  • Request referrals from diverse employees. Tapping your personal network or the network of a recruiter can only get you so far. Instead, try seeking referrals from diverse employees within your organization. Their institutional knowledge and connections beyond your own could help you in sourcing diverse candidates that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Engage with passive job seekers

Building a diverse applicant pool starts long before it’s even time to hire. Incorporate diversity into your candidate pipeline from the get-go by engaging with passive job seekers. Think of passive job seekers as the folks who are currently employed but open to a new opportunity if the right one comes along. Building connections with diverse employees, even if they’re technically not candidates (yet!), can give you a boost when you’re ready to start sourcing diverse candidates. Plus, passive job seekers can also offer referrals or candidate references. 

To get started engaging with passive job seekers, consider how your employee value proposition fits into how people interact with your brand. It might mean reinvigorating your online presence or even building connections within your local community.

Meet diverse candidates where they are

You may have heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” In the world of executive search, the saying holds true. Sourcing diverse candidates requires changing your executive search paradigm and trying something new or different. Often, it means meeting diverse candidates where they are. Diversity-centered job boards and executive search tools like AboveBoard can connect you directly with diverse candidates executives for the next step in their careers.

Unlock diversity sourcing solutions with AboveBoard

Diversity sourcing is a multi-step process, from reconsidering your brand strategy and employment offerings to connection-building and thinking outside of the box when necessary. While each of these steps can help you move the needle on diversity within your organization, it doesn’t have to be complicated. That’s why AboveBoard exists. 

At AboveBoard, diversity and inclusion sourcing strategies are at the core of our mission to reshape the global workforce to be more representative of the population. As an executive platform and community providing open access to leadership opportunities, AboveBoard is focused on both empowering historically underrepresented executives and supporting hiring organizations as they seek to diversify their leadership teams. More than 50,000 executives and 2,400 companies including The Vanguard Group, Hubspot, and The Kraft Heinz Company are already using AboveBoard to unlock diversity sourcing solutions.

Looking to diversify your candidate pipeline?

Start hiring with AboveBoard and connect with 50,000+ senior executives from underrepresented groups and demographics.


AboveBoard is an executive hiring platform that connects qualified executives with board and full-time opportunities. We are expanding access for underrepresented groups of executives—particularly Black, Latinx, and women. To join visit

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