24 Companies With Standout – And Effective – Diversity Recruiting Strategies
Let these diversity recruiting techniques implemented by real companies inspire your own.
Whether you’re a hiring manager at a Fortune 500 company or the founder of a growing startup, it’s your job to build the best team possible. While every company has different hiring needs, building a team made up of diverse individuals is essential no matter the company size or department. But finding great candidates from a variety of backgrounds isn’t always easy, especially if a team is fairly homogenous to begin with. However, there are many companies that are getting it right, and their documented diversity recruiting strategies are great examples of how to approach hiring. There are a number of ways to design your hiring process to increase diversity but you have to start somewhere – here are the strategies of 24 companies to model your own processes after.
Airbnb used data science to improve diversity at the company, an approach they detailed in this 2016 Medium post. The company analyzed its hiring data and found that women made up only 10% of their newest class of data scientists, and typically, 30% of their applicants were women. To increase the number of women they reached at the top-of-funnel, Airbnb created a series of panels to highlight women in data science, as well as published articles showcasing experiences of women in the field. In addition to increasing the number of applicants, Airbnb also analyzed and tweaked their interview process. The company implemented a binary scoring system for take home assessments, and began requiring that women made up half of the interview panel for female candidates. The steps Airbnb took increased the representation of female data scientists on the team from 15% to 30%.
Apple takes diversity hiring very seriously. In 2020, they hired 64% more employees from underrepresented communities, and filled 43% of open leadership positions in the US with underrepresented candidates. Apple also released strong action plans to increase diversity hiring across all business areas, including research & development. In January 2021, Apple announced several large projects to combat racial injustice, as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI). Some of the initiatives include the opening of the Propel Center, “a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub” for HBCUs, the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, which will aid tech education for students in Michigan, and venture capital funding specifically for Brown and Black entrepreneurs. The Propel Center will provide students of color with mentorship, learning support, internship and career opportunities. Through these initiatives, Apple aims to create more opportunities for young people of color in America and increase opportunities for future leaders from diverse backgrounds.
Aubrey Blanche, Atlassian’s former Global Head of Diversity & Belonging, spearheaded an initiative to create more balanced technical teams, an initiative detailed in this article by First Round Review. In a year, the number of female technical hires increased from 10% to 18%, and its entry-level engineering cohort was 57% female. Blanche points to tactics like creating an inclusive culture (and recommends small teams start building balanced teams as early as possible), standardizing evaluations of candidates, judging on potential (not just experience), and showcasing a representative set of employees on their website.
Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm based in Boston, has focused on accelerating the representation of underrepresented minorities in their firm in regards to building their team and culture. To tap into pools of new diverse candidates, BCG has invested in developing partnerships with organizations like Management Leadership for Tomorrow and expanded outreach to HBCUs and HSIs. They’ve also invested in giving diverse talent the tools to succeed, and have expanded their early career programs. These programs include Growing Future Leaders, Bridge to Consulting, and Discover BCG, all of which are designed to help underrepresented students develop the tools they need to succeed in their careers.
Citigroup embraces diversity through its 10 Affinities – employee-based communities meant to represent the broad ranging demographics of Citigroup’s employees, which include LGBTQ+, Black, Hispanic, female, and veteran employees. To embed diversity in the organization from the top-down, Citigroup’s 10 Affinities are co-led by a member of the company’s senior leadership team. To recruit young, diverse talent, they seek standout college-aged women and minorities through pre-interview mentor programs that then gives them a diverse recruiting pool for their summer analyst program.
When it comes to diversity recruiting, Estée Lauder Companies emphasizes inclusion first, believing that an inclusive environment is the catalyst to building a diverse organization. Their commitment to building an inclusive environment is evident – the company has 30 employee resource groups, with over 4,500 employees participating collectively. Each group was started by their employees, and the list includes groups for women, veterans, families, LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, and many more. Estée Lauder was also named the No. 1 workplace for women in Forbes’ annual list, “America’s Best Employers For Women,” and landed a spot on Working Mother’s Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index and on the 100 Best Companies list. Estee Lauder’s inclusive policies helped land them on those lists, which include 20 weeks of gender-neutral paid parental leave for those who adopt or foster children, six weeks of flexible hours for the back-to-work transition, $10,000 for adoption assistance and $20,000 a year for fertility treatment.
Estée Lauder’s emphasis on creating an inclusive and supportive work environment not only helps with retaining diverse individuals, but is a standout strategy for recruiting a diverse workforce. 85% of its female workforce worldwide is women, and 54% of its vice president positions or above are held by women, a statistic well-above the national average for women in leadership roles.
International Business Machines Corporation, better known as IBM, is a multinational technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York with an outstanding record of promoting diversity in their organization and societally. One of the most significant steps they’ve taken in recent years is partnering to create a new model of public education, P-TECH schools, which allow students from underserved backgrounds to receive a high school diploma and associate’s degree in a STEM discipline at no cost. In 2020, IBM committed to hiring 1,000 paid interns from P-Tech schools.
IBM also committed to partner for racial justice at the World Economic Forum, and have taken actionable steps to advance the cause. IBM employees created Call for Code, an initiative for developers to take action by using their coding skills to combat racial injustice. IBM’s commitment to diversity is also clear in their hiring practices. Of all hires in 2019, 15% came from non-traditional backgrounds, and 42% of all promotions to executive positions were women. They offer a Racial and Social Justice Visiting Scholars program that accepts applicants from any background looking to advance racial and social justice, offer an apprenticeship program to give candidates from underrepresented backgrounds a pathway to tech jobs, joined with 40 companies to train, hire, and promote one million Black Americans over the next ten years, and have partnered with HBCU’s to better prepare students for careers in quantum computing. These initiatives are just a handful of the ways IBM has committed to hiring and supporting a more diverse and inclusive workforce, something the organization is clearly passionate about and dedicated to doing.
Intel focuses on supporting Native Americans in tech by partnering with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. They donated $1.32 million to the “Growing the Legacy” scholarship, awarded to 40 Native American STEM students every year, as described in their Corporate Responsibility Report. In addition to helping financially support the students, they also offer a mentorship program, leadership training, and opportunities for internships/full-time jobs at Intel. And while they admit there’s plenty of room to grow, with only 0.7% of tech positions held by Native Americans in 2018, that number has increased from 0.5% in 2015.
Infosys, a multinational information technology company that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services, is strongly committed to creating a diverse workforce. In fact, women make up 25% of the company’s board, and 38% of their workforce, which is unique for the technology industry. Infosys is also one of the companies that committed to partner for racial justice in business at the World Economic Forum, vowing to build equitable and just workplaces for professionals with under-represented racial and ethnic identities. One way they’re already doing this is by offering inclusive benefits and employee resource groups for Female employees, Disabled employees, LGBTQIA+ employees, Multicultural employees, Black employees, and more. Infosys is also pioneering unique hiring efforts for the tech industry, looking specifically to community colleges and at candidates without college degrees for a significant portion of their hiring. These efforts show a willingness to look outside the box in hiring a more diverse workforce, tapping into communities that often do not have access to tech jobs.
Global network financial consulting company, KPMG, truly believes that diverse teams are the key to success. To hold themselves accountable, they committed to sharing visible action steps to recruit, develop and advance underrepresented talent. Following the commitment, they announced Accelerate 2025, a plan to encourage underrepresented talent to choose KPMG as their employer of choice. They actively recruit from Native American Serving Institutions and HBCUs and partner with organizations like the National Association of Black Accountants, the Thurgood Marshall Fund, and Ascend to reach diverse talent. In addition, they offer a multi-year internship program, Embark Scholars, for students of color, and a multiday leadership conference, Rise Institute, for high-performing students from underrepresented backgrounds. KPMG also invests in diverse talent through programs like Future Diversity Leaders, Managing Career Life Choices, Leadership essentials, and Pride 15, which are designed to help employees develop and advance their careers, and through a number of diversity-focused Business Resource Groups.
For the last few years, Liberty Mutual has been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity, one of America’s Best Employers for New Grads, and one of America’s Best Employers for Women. The recognition stems from the work Liberty Mutual is doing to create a diverse workforce and strengthen inclusion within its organization, which includes a framework with five focus areas in Talent, Development, Workplace Environment, Customer & Community, and Communications.
While some of its internal programs include D&I councils and employee resource groups, Liberty Mutual has several unique events to foster important conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion among college students and prospective candidates. Two of these events are Liberty Mutual’s Student Diversity Symposium - a daylong event for students from diverse backgrounds to discuss topics related to the future of the workplace and D&I. Taking place at Liberty Mutual’s headquarters, attendees have the opportunity to learn about careers at Liberty Mutual, network with other students, and discuss their experiences and ideas to further the diversity & inclusion conversation on campus and in the workplace. The second event is Liberty’s MBA RISE Program (Recognizing Inclusion in Successful Enterprise) where pre-MBA candidates are offered an opportunity to meet with a Liberty Mutual mentor, participate in professional development and D&I workshops throughout their two-year program, and interview early for their Summer Associate roles.
One of Microsoft’s diversity & inclusion goals is to increase the percentage of employees with disabilities. The company has a Chief Accessibility Officer and dedicated resources to recruit and develop talent of different abilities. Their Autism Hiring Program is particularly notable, which aims to attract and support talented individuals on the autism spectrum, offering recruiting opportunities at in-person events around the country and some international locations. Microsoft also hosts “Ability Hiring Events,” which gives candidates with disabilities the opportunity to attend a one-day interview, specifically structured to provide an inclusive experience.
This financial institution is committed to building equity and inclusion at the entry-level. Last October, Morgan Stanley announced the HBCU Scholars Program, an initiative that provides full scholarships for 60 students at Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman college. This scholarship also provides a career readiness program with virtual and on-sight components to complement the campus curriculum. The goal is to prepare these students for opportunities at the firm post-graduation. This amazing program was spearheaded by the Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Inclusion and is just one part of the organization’s efforts to increase diversity. Globally, over 40% of all hires in 2019 were women, and 40% of all hires in the US were ethnically diverse. Diversity hiring at the campus level increased by 9% from 2015 to 2019, thanks to several targeted initiatives. Morgan Stanley’s Early Insights Program introduces women, ethnically diverse, and LGBT+ high school seniors and college freshmen to the finance industry and their Richard B. Fisher Scholarship provides financial support to allow diverse students to complete college. These efforts are critical to identifying and supporting diverse candidates who the firm ultimately aims to hire.
Nike made headlines in 2016 for building a workforce that included more than 50% people of color. They have a strong gender balance as well, with 48% of their employees identifying as female. To achieve these results, Nike has a dedicated diversity sourcing team to ensure slates of diverse candidates when working to fill a role. The company has also built an inclusive hiring process with tactics like writing inclusive job descriptions, blindly reviewing resumes, and holding their leaders accountable for representation growth within their teams.
PepsiCo has a strong focus on hiring veterans, which led them to be named #1 for veteran hires by The Washington Post. They achieve this level of success by specifically seeking out veterans at national and local veteran career events they attend and sponsor. They also partner with veteran recruiting organizations, such as Allies in Service, to ensure veterans are aware of their open positions. Once the candidates are hired, PepsiCo offers resources during veterans’ time transitioning from the military to the workforce and support for their families, helping with talent retention.
Pinterest, an exciting content discovery platform, partnered with Paradigm in 2016 to facilitate aggressive diversity hiring goals. Most significantly, they vowed to expand the diversity of their engineering roles to 30% held by women and 8% held by people from underrepresented ethnic groups. Pinterest implemented strategies like unconscious bias training for every employee, and requiring that the candidates interviewed for a job included at least one person from an underrepresented background and one woman. They also employed another strategy: simply asking their employees to be more cognizant of the candidates they were referring, ensuring that more came from underrepresented communities. This process increased the percent of referrals from underrepresented talent by 55x, and referrals of women by 24% in just six weeks. By the end of 2020, the company met many of their diversity goals, with 30% of leadership roles and 29% of engineering roles held by women, and 12% of US leadership roles and 8% of US engineering roles held by members of underrepresented communities.
While some companies offer one diversity recruiting program, leading investment bank and financial services company, Piper Sandler, has three. The Career Exploration Program (CEP) is Piper Sandler’s standout diversity recruiting program for undergraduate students. CEP is a direct pipeline for summer internship programs and is meant to increase participation from all majors and disciplines to attract high-achieving, diverse candidates. In order to enhance participation from MBA students with diverse backgrounds, Piper Sandler’s MBA fellowship program offers recipients $35,000 after accepting an offer, with the possibility of an additional second year fellowship award. In addition to their own programs, Piper Sandler also partners with a leading nonprofit organization, Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). MLT works to transform the life trajectories of a new generation of diverse leaders while simultaneously expanding the diversity pipeline of businesses.
Through its foundation, Siemens has invested more than $115 million in a pipeline of diverse STEM talent through workforce development initiatives. Recognizing the growing need for workers in STEM fields, The Siemens Foundation launched its workforce development efforts in 2015 to help close the opportunity gap for young adults in STEM middle-skill careers. These efforts promote awareness of opportunities in STEM middle-skill jobs and scale effective education and training models to increase access to these promising career paths.
One of these initiatives starts early on. The Siemens Foundation offers free resources for educators to revamp their STEM curriculum with Siemens STEM Day. Siemens STEM Day is a free program for educators to engage students in STEM through tools, resources, and hands-on activities which are aligned to national science standards for students in grades K through 12. The program also includes Career Profiles to help students learn about how the competencies they are learning can be applied to a variety of careers in STEM. By investing in early STEM education and providing free resources, Siemens is leveling the playing field while strengthening and diversifying their technical talent pipeline for years to come – and this is just one example of how Siemens recruits diverse talent. For more information on their initiatives, visit their page here.
Slack, a leading business communication platform, outperforms many tech companies when it comes to diversity. Almost 14% of their roles are held by individuals from one or more underrepresented communities, and over 46% of Slack’s manager positions are held by women. Surprisingly, this company does not have a Chief Diversity Officer or a similar role – they simply embed diversity recruiting into the fabric of their talent acquisition strategy. According to The Atlantic, they recruit from coding bootcamps that focus on underrepresented talent, and they utilize technologies like Textio to screen for potentially biased language that would turn away female candidates. They also focus on removing bias from the interviewing process by clearly defining candidate criteria, asking everyone the same interview questions, and doing mock interviews with team members to ensure bias doesn’t creep in during real interviews.
Popular social-networking service Twitter has placed substantial emphasis on hiring next-generation technical leaders from nontraditional backgrounds like coding bootcamps, self-taught coders, veterans, and caregivers returning to the workforce. They’ve also focused on hiring candidates traditionally underrepresented in tech, including women, Black, Latinx, and Native American candidate, particularly for their Engineering Apprenticeship Program. The apprenticeship is a one-year rotation program with full-time employment benefits, whose graduates go on to join one of Twitter’s engineering teams.
Additionally, Twitter has implemented a “decentralized workforce strategy” as a way to expand their reach and tap into more diverse talent pools. To find talent from different areas, they embarked on a hiring tour for technical roles, focused on six cities outside of San Francisco. With interviewing being difficult enough, Twitter didn’t want expenses associated with airfare, hotel stays, and onsite childcare to be a barrier, so they are covering such expenses for qualified applicants.
To move the needle on diversity and inclusion in the advertising and marketing industries, Verizon created AdFellows, a fellowship program to help individuals from diverse backgrounds break into marketing and advertising. The 8-month program gives recent graduates the chance to try out four different roles in PR, creative, media, and client-side brand marketing, giving them real-world experience and opportunities to network with industry leaders. According to the Wall Street Journal, the program has a goal of placing 90% of participants in full-time jobs afterward.
In addition to the program, Verizon is using data to examine diversity, inclusion and retention in the workforce. In partnership with the Center for Talent Innovation Inc., a nonprofit that researches workforce inclusion, Verizon examined the factors affecting whether people of color and women advance in, stay in or leave marketing, media and communications jobs. The results of the in-depth survey, which you can read more about here, will help Verizon and its agencies continue to improve inclusivity and raise awareness of the issues faced by diverse individuals.
Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm located in Austin, Texas, focusing on financing and forwarding technology-enabled startup businesses, places a strong emphasis on diversity hiring. The firm recruits and hires diverse talent across the company and at all levels of their portfolio companies. One significant way they have invested in diversity hiring is through the establishment of the Vista Frontier Fellows Program, which is designed to create career opportunities for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. In order to qualify, candidates must identify as a woman, Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, or American Indian. Knowing that diversity and inclusion efforts start at the top, Vista is also a member of the Thirty Percent Coalition, a group of companies that work to increase gender diversity in corporate boardrooms and leadership roles. Additionally, in 2020, Vista joined Diligent Corporation's Modern Leadership Initiative and pledged to create five new board roles among its portfolio companies for racially diverse candidates. By committing to hiring diverse candidates at every level, from corporate leadership to entry-level fellowships, Vista Equity Partners has shown a true commitment to increasing representation in their organization.
Yelp has always been committed to an inclusive workplace and has recently shared more detail on their approach in an article in the Harvard Business Review. Over the years, Yelp has piloted a number of strategies, including expanding on-campus recruiting efforts to recruit students at historically black universities, women’s colleges, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. In the company's continued focus on inclusion, Yelp has recently retooled the recruitment process for its Sales Leadership Development Program to encourage and foster more diverse applicants. Not only is Yelp committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace, but they have a commitment to transparency: the company consistently shares what’s working – and what isn’t – about their diversity recruiting strategies.
YUM! Brands is a fast food corporation that operates brands like Pizza Hut, KFC, WingStreet, and Taco Bell, and has a strong commitment to diversity hiring. Recently, the company partnered with the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition, JLCC Experiential Engagements. The JLCC is an initiative that pairs students with corporations for racial equity consulting in order to create racial justice initiatives for those corporations. Taco Bell is the most recent company to implement the competition, and two student teams of diverse candidates will work with Taco Bell corporate leaders for a four week period, receiving a $10,000 stipend from the corporation. YUM! Brands has also implemented an aggressive 30% diverse candidate representation policy. To support the policy, YUM! has developed partnerships with many diversity organizations, including the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA), and more. They also leverage online networking tools to communicate job openings to key diversity groups. Through these efforts and more, the corporation has proven to consistently be a leader in the diversity recruiting space.
Each of these companies featured have developed standout strategies to increase the diversity of their teams, offering lessons and inspiration for every hiring manager, recruiter, or founder. So take a page out of their book, and make diversifying your talent pipeline a priority – hopefully this list can give you some ideas.