How to recruit diverse talent

AboveBoard | Aug 10, 2022

Strategies and best practices to bolster diverse recruitment.

When it comes to recruiting diverse candidates, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction.

Myth: Qualified, diverse candidates are hard to find. Fact: Diverse recruitment is possible, it just takes some strategic, inclusive practices.

Take, for example, hiring managers. Many hold the belief that "qualified Black candidates are rare," according to Stanford Social Innovation Review, "insist[ing] that organizational diversity is too hard to achieve, not because of the efforts being made to do so, but because of the talent pool."

But according to Darrick Hamilton of The New School, such claims do "not hold water."  For example, a USA Today analysis of leading schools in the computer science and engineering field found that "top universities turn out Black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them."

So, what's to be done about the disconnect between diverse candidates and the companies seeking to diversify their ranks? Diverse recruitment. In this article, we’ll outline the ins and outs of diverse recruitment so you can start advancing diversity today.

What is diverse recruitment?

Diverse recruitment is the practice of attracting, considering, and hiring job candidates in a process free from bias for or against any certain individuals or groups.

Recruiting diverse candidates requires intention; it doesn’t necessarily happen on its own. Otherwise, perhaps today’s C-suites and boardrooms would be more reflective of the population or communities they serve.

For example, women accounted for more than half of all workers in 2019, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that same year, Stanford found that women held only 7 percent of CEO positions among Fortune 500 companies (And for ethnically diverse executives, that number’s at 9 percent). 

Discrepancies like these point to the fact that conventional methods of executive recruiting— whether it’s partnering with a traditional search firm or tapping the same networks in search of candidates—are inherently exclusionary. Too often, these methods leave out marginalized groups of executives. If your goal is to recruit diverse talent, your processes need to shift to capture the underrepresented executive candidates your organization is missing out on. That’s what we call diverse recruitment.

With that said, let’s get clear about what diverse recruitment is not. Recruiting diverse candidates is not the same as:

  •  Discrimination. Discrimination by definition is exclusive, whereas the aim of diverse recruitment is to be inclusive. Recruiting diverse candidates ensures “candidates are considered as a whole and not based on a certain protected trait,” per Employment Practices Solutions.
  •  Tokenism. Merriam-Webster defines tokenism as “the policy or practice of making only a symbolic effort.” Recruiting people of color just to check diversity off the to-do list is essentially textbook tokenism. Genuine diverse recruitment efforts part of a multifaceted process that includes attracting, interviewing, hiring, developing, and retaining diverse leaders.

Benefits of recruiting diverse candidates

Why is diverse recruitment important? In short, diversity drives innovation, encourages collaboration, and boosts profits. Let’s take a look at the data.

A McKinsey & Company analysis found that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability” compared to companies in the fourth quartile. What’s more, the firm found that “the greater the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.”

Behind these profit increases is the innovation and collaboration that comes as a result of workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion. A Forbes Insights survey of more than 300 executives overseeing diversity and inclusion at global companies with revenues exceeding $500 million found that 56 percent of respondents “agreed that diversity helps drive innovation.”

“Because of our diverse workforce, we’ve experienced a boost in productivity. When you can move people to contribute to their fullest, it has a tremendous impact,” Rosalind Hudnell, Intel’s director of global diversity and inclusion, told Forbes Insights.

Not only is diverse recruitment ultimately a boon to company performance, profit, and culture, it also makes diversity sustainable. By incorporating diverse recruitment strategies into your organization’s business practices, you’ll promote diversity in the long run. 

Diversity recruiting best practices 

Recruiting diverse candidates requires taking a closer look at the criteria, materials, and processes involved in your organization’s current recruitment process. Here are some diversity recruiting best practices you can take action on today to start recruiting diverse candidates.

Showcase your commitment to DEI

Candidates who value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will be drawn to workplaces committed to hiring, mentoring, and promoting diverse leaders. If you want to recruit diverse talent, be clear about your commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace. 

Analyze your recruitment process from start to finish to see areas where your company could showcase diversity. This could mean updating your company’s web pages with information about how your organization is proactively advancing DEI. It could also mean revising job descriptions, recruitment/outreach events, or interview panels to reflect the diversity you’d like to see at your company. Think of this as the corollary to dressing for the job you want; be the company that a diverse candidate would want to work for.

Use inclusive language 

Job descriptions can be strengthened to showcase a commitment to diversity. Some simple practices include: 

Get outside of your network

The executive hiring process usually takes one of two routes: tapping retained executive search firms or leveraging personal networks. These conventional methods often leave out marginalized groups of executives, including Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and women executives. Ultimately, these routes lead to less diversity, not more.

To recruit diverse talent effectively, you’ll need to get outside of the traditional methods that don’t yield diverse results. That’s why AboveBoard exists.

Start recruiting diverse candidates on AboveBoard

At AboveBoard, we’re on a mission to upend traditional models of executive recruitment from the ground up. Our innovative platform bridges the gap between underrepresented executives and the companies looking to hire them. Our platform uncovers conventionally hidden opportunities, connecting untapped networks of talented candidates to today’s leading companies and organizations. 

With more than 25,000 underrepresented executives on AboveBoard, we've busted the diverse pipeline myth for good. 

Looking to diversify your candidate pipeline?

Start hiring with AboveBoard and connect with 25,000+ 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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