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Sourcing Diverse Talent: Solving the Pain Points

Identified by Gartner as one of the most crucial trends for the future of work, improving and driving Diversity and Inclusion continues to be a complex equation. Organizations recognize the value that greater diversity and inclusive cultures can bring, but seem to struggle with the practical ‘how’ of it all. And one of the most pivotal factors in this journey revolves around sourcing diverse talent.

Without a honed ability to find and engage candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, companies limit themselves from tapping into an important well of skill, potential, and expertise. And we’re not going to lie – sourcing diverse talent can take a bit of work and out-of-the-box thinking, but with a little effort (and guidance from SocialTalent!) it will soon become second nature to your recruiters.

Why is diversity sourcing so important?

The hiring process often only caters to a certain type of individual. Underpinned by status-quo requirements and traditional methodologies of search, there can be a tendency to overlook candidates who don’t fit a predetermined mould. It becomes a barrier to access and can prevent a huge number of diverse applicants from even making shortlists. 

Change comes from proactivity. When sourcers understand the issue and build strategies to compensate, the environment shifts. And the benefits of sourcing diverse talent are enormous:

  • Improves innovation and reduces homogenization (Josh Bersin).
  • Expands new talent pools and pipelines.
  • Can help combat skills and talent shortages.
  • More diversity often results in higher revenue (BCG).
  • Commitment to DEI is becoming critical for talent attraction.

So, we know why sourcing diverse talent is important, let’s now get straight into the how

Sourcing Diverse Talent

1. Perform a diversity audit

This must be step one. You have to understand where your organization stands from a diversity perspective before launching into any particular initiatives and programs. Start by taking a close look at the current employee demographics and team make-ups, digging into areas like: gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic background, disability, and intersectionality. 

Examine this data and pinpoint areas where representation may be lacking – and ask why. Perhaps there are issues in the hiring process or biased leadership, maybe certain policies are preventing talent from flourishing in particular areas? You may learn some harsh truths in this process, but you need to establish the baseline. Diversity audits should not be isolated events – they are integral to an ongoing process of hiring improvement and accountability. They arm recruiters and sourcers with the core information they need to make targeted change.

2. Double check those job ads

So you’ve done your analysis, you’ve found the critical areas where representation is low for your company, and you want to start fixing the problem. Where do you head first? Job descriptions of course! Fraught with bias, discriminatory language, and archaic structures, these ads are often a huge DEI red flag. After all, sourcing diverse talent hinges on a job description which entices all to apply.

We’ve created an entire guide on writing inclusive job ads which you should check out to gain the most insight, but here are some of the best bits of advice:

  1. Neutralize your language: Watch out for gendered words or company jargon that could alienate candidates.
  2. Requirements: Job ads should be concise, so make sure you stick to ACTUAL job requirements and avoid those nice-to-haves.
  3. Be open and transparent: Give salary guidelines and accurate information about the role.
  4. DEI commitment: Show how inclusive and accepting your organization is and encourage applications from ALL talent.

Learn more: How to Write More Inclusive Job Descriptions

3. Re-examine where and how you’re looking for talent

This is a big one. Where you go looking for potential candidates plays an enormous role in the kind of slate you can pull together. And if diversity is a particular pain point for your organization, it directly shows that you need to make a more concerted effort to proactively alter your sourcing grounds. Your first port of call should be expanding your sourcing databases and tools to include job boards and sites that cater for diverse talent specifically. By posting on these forums, you open yourself up to a wide-range of talent that could otherwise have been overlooked. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Coupled with this, it’s also important to establish relationships with communities, educational institutes, and professional development organizations that prioritize diversity. They can provide access to a wealth of talent from underrepresented groups.

Finally, while where you source is vital, how you source will also impact your numbers. Try refining your approach with Boolean searches to tap LinkedIn for high-performing candidates. Search specific colleges that have diverse student bodies, or include popular female names. There are countless creative ways you can use Boolean strings to target minority talent. 

– Excerpt from SocialTalent’s training on Sourcing for Diversity with Holly Fawcett. Login to our learning platform to see more.

4. Leverage your ERGs

Hiring should never be siloed to an individual or specific group. In order to find the best talent, it’s important to create, what we call, a ‘culture of hiring’ where everyone in the organization is engaged in the task. And this is a particularly useful approach when it comes to increasing your diversity efforts. Reaching out to your ERGs (Employee Resource Groups), for example, can be a hugely fruitful method of reducing homogeneity in your sourcing activities.

First, use them as a sounding board. Have each group read your job ads and role requirements to find bias or red flags that your team may have overlooked. And engage their expertise – many ERGs are linked with networking groups or social events, these can also be great areas to source diverse talent within. Finally, encourage them to offer up referrals. I know what you’re thinking – referrals have a tendency to increase bias in the hiring process by leaning into sameness, right? In this case, we actually want to promote this tendency and encourage the particular ERGs to recommend other women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ folk, disabled people, etc. to increase your pool of diverse talent.

Learn more: Discover how you can build a hiring culture by downloading our free e-book

5. Don’t forget about internal mobility

We know how important (and underused) internal mobility is as a source for talent within many organizations. In fact, according to research undertaken by Josh Bersin, only 11% of companies actively promote a culture of internal mobility! Yet with skills shortages aplenty and DEI being an ever-rising importance, it pays to not overlook the talent already within your walls.

People from marginalized groups are often underrepresented at the higher levels of businesses. So improving pathways to these positions is critical. As a recruiter or sourcer, you have the ability to champion diverse, high potential employees for key roles within the organization. And when we think about how siloed promotion and career development often is, it’s so vital to earmark this talent. Because the more a person’s diversity separates them from the mainstream, the harder it can be to be involved in those conversations. So actively understand your diverse talent base, encourage these people to apply for internal roles, and start to mend some of the historic inequalities within organizational hierarchies.

Learn more: 5 benefits of internal mobility for employers.

6. Undertake regular sourcing training

According to a Korn Ferry report, 54% of TA leaders believe it’s harder to find quality talent now than it was a year ago. Therefore, having the most up-to-date skills and knowledge on sourcing is a non-negotiable for any recruiter worth their salt. And this becomes doubly important when we take diversity into account.

As our clip above from the SocialTalent platform demonstrated, how you source for diverse talent requires a different and more proactive approach. And with the world of sourcing constantly evolving, it’s so important to have best practice techniques when it comes to mitigating bias, expanding talent pools, overcoming pipeline issues, and learning how to passively engage with diverse candidates. Consistent, high-quality training is the only answer to this. And luckily, SocialTalent is expertly equipped to help you with this!

Whether you’re a company looking to elevate your sourcing ability, or an individual recruiter, we have world-class learning options to suit both.


Sourcing diverse talent requires a bit of a mindset shift – but the results are worth the effort. Organizations should match society at all levels, and a rich demographic of diversity will massively help everything from innovation and performance, to your culture of belonging and the always important bottom line. Encouraging and enabling your recruiters, sourcers, and talent folk to find and hire diverse talent is a no-brainer.

Want to learn more about building a diverse talent pool? Download our free e-book today.

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