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When we think about elevating our approach to inclusive hiring, our minds may drift to improving the language in job descriptions or trying to foster a candidate experience that caters to all. And while these are hugely important elements, there’s something else to consider when it comes to creating a solid foundation – employer branding.
In a sea of talent scarcity and skills shortages, it’s never been more important to ensure that your employer brand speaks to the candidates you are trying to attract. And with the rising importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion for millennial and Gen Z employees, you must ensure that your values and commitment to this cause are put on full blast.
Let’s discover how:
1. Lean into authenticity
For better or worse, trust has become a huge commodity in the workplace. As employees, customers, fans, and followers we seek out organizations we feel are being authentic and genuine in their messaging. The ones who cut through the corporate veil and present a brand built on a solid foundation of ideals and core values. The only issue here – all companies are trying to portray themselves as this! They all understand the importance of authenticity. But how many of them truly live up to their words? So, if you really want to cultivate an inclusive employer brand, you need to embrace your actual truth, warts and all!
It may seem counter intuitive, but the goal is not to resonate with everyone, as many employer brands try to do, but to resonate with the right people. There is so much about this exercise that could be deemed ‘tick box’, but if you want to attract and retain diverse talent, you have to understand and speak to this cohort. Even if your DEI journey is only starting, show your intentions rather than smokescreening your faults. And the truth is, candidates will find out regardless. Inclusivity is not something that can be constructed as a facade; it lives and breathes in the DNA of the organization. And pretence will only do more damage to your brand in the long run. So eschew automaton marketing, be confident in your values, and be transparent about who you are.
2. Tell your story
This goes hand-in-hand with authenticity. We recently spoke with branding expert, Charu Malhotra, and when describing the definition of what employer branding is, she said that “some people call it talent marketing, some call it recruitment communications. But to me, it’s telling a story.” And this gets to the heart of it. Storytelling is a hugely powerful tool and underpins an inclusive employer brand, but so few organizations leverage this properly.
Storytelling helps to communicate values, culture, and commitment to DEI in a way that’s both compelling and relatable. By weaving an authentic and reflective narrative about inclusivity into your employer brand, you can evoke emotion and a sense of connection with potential candidates. They can then envision themselves as part of the company and understand how they’ll be accepted and encouraged. There are a few ways to do this:
- Employee spotlight stories: Features from diverse employees highlighting their experiences and career paths.
- Testimonials: Insights from customers or clients championing the inclusive nature of the organization.
- Initiatives: Share data and information on all the various DEI initiatives and groups within the company.
- Leadership commitment: Have leaders talk about their motivations for cultivating an inclusive working environment.
According to the Edelman Trust Report, 63% of employees consider a company’s position on societal issues when deciding where to work. By showcasing stories that demonstrate your dedication to inclusivity, you can answer these questions for them. But remember, you must be genuine and respectful when it comes to storytelling. Exploitative tokenism will not sway talent. Foster a culture of psychological safety and encourage your staff to come forward and tell their stories truthfully.
Listen to the amazing Charu Malhotra talk about the new world of employer branding on our podcast here:
3. The role of leaders
Like so many initiatives championing inclusivity, the role your senior leaders play in fostering this culture is pivotal. And when it comes to employer brand specifically, organizations must encourage their executives to truly walk the talk. They must live and breathe the DEI fundamentals that their company embodies. Why? Because job seekers have become savvy consumers – baseless declarations of belonging and inclusion mean nothing if the most visible leaders aren’t backing this up with their own stances. So how can leaders show this commitment?
- Speak at DEI events and conferences.
- Write newsletters, think-pieces, or blogs about their DEI journey.
- Use social media to lend their voice to underrepresented communities.
- Follow and support minority groups.
- Include pronouns in social bios.
- Encourage leaders to speak openly about their struggles.
Inclusive employer branding doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has to be an organic message that your leadership team fully buys into. And according to a Glassdoor report, as much as 75% of people believe that businesses whose c-suite leaders use social media to communicate their core mission, brand values, and purpose are more trustworthy. And speaking of social media, this leads us nicely to our next topic.
4. Optimize your career site and social media
To build an inclusive employer brand, you must start by looking at the entry point for candidates. Slip at these hurdles and it could taint any progress you make elsewhere. LinkedIn states that as many as 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before they even apply – so if this initial information isn’t optimized for inclusivity, it’s going to be a massive uphill battle.
Start by looking at the language on your career site – is it inclusive? Is terminology free from bias and jargon? What about the imagery? Is it reflective of the diverse make-up of your organization? Do you include employee testimonials and accounts? Look at everything holistically and map the journey potential talent will make through this page. And don’t overlook the functionality side of things either. Ensure your site is accessible to all with features like alt tags for images, descriptive link text, and compatibility with screen readers. It’s all another example of walking the talk.
And the same applies to social media. Every candidate will look through a company’s social media presence when deciding whether to join. So highlight your commitment to DEI regularly with inclusive hashtagging, diverse imagery, and community engagement. Remember, 91% of candidates find a poorly managed online presence damaging to the employer brand. Take the time and curate an experience that appeals to all.
5. Brand internally
If there’s one major takeaway from this article it’s this – do not overlook the power your own employees have to help shape and communicate an inclusive employer brand. They are your biggest advocates and when nurtured correctly and consistently, can be ambassadors, bringing to life their own personal experiences of the organization from within. According to research, people trust employees more than your CEO, spokesperson, or marketing team. So leverage this insight and regularly encourage your teams to speak out about DEI and belonging.
Discover how this global tech company leveraged SocialTalent learning to create a culture of brand ambassadors.
Keep in mind that it’s never been easier for a job seeker to find information about your company. Whether it’s through Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Google searches, or social profiles – it empowers talent to ask companies to prove any claims they make about inclusivity. Think of it like Yelp reviews for a restaurant; no matter how many bombastic affirmations an owner could make about the quality of food or comfort of experience, negative comments from real customers will always affect decision making. So, how do you keep your workforce as engaged brand ambassadors? SocialTalent’s resident employee branding expert, Ed Nathanson, has the answers:
Aiming to have an inclusive employer brand is a no-brainer goal. Not only will it help your efforts to attract and retain talent from all walks of life, it will also feed into the organizational culture, driving more acceptance and belonging – something everyone should be aspiring to do.
But you have to be intentional when it comes to weaving inclusivity into your employer brand. Lean into authenticity, empower your employees, and optimize processes and messaging. It should organically inform everything you do. And one of the most powerful ways to do this is through continuous learning and development. SocialTalent provides dedicated training for organizations looking to improve their approach to everything from inclusive hiring to employer branding best practices. Click below to learn more!