2022 recruiting trends: diversity

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

February 3, 2022

Gem recently ran a survey of more than 500 talent acquisition professionals to better understand priorities, pain points, and goals as recruiting teams head into 2022. It would be an understatement to say that one consistent theme in responses concerned diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) as it relates to hiring. 

Regardless of role or company size, talent professionals across the board ranked “diversity hiring” as the most important trend in the recruiting industry for 2022. Other trends they ranked as critical—embracing remote/flex/hybrid work, rethinking role requirements, and pay transparency—all feed into diversity. 

What’s more, “difficulty meeting diversity goals” was among the top-3 hiring challenges talent acquisition professionals anticipate their organizations will experience in 2022—coming in only behind “difficulty finding qualified candidates” and “uncompetitive offers.”

diversity recruiting trends

Here’s what some of your peers specifically had to say:

  • “Diversity has been a buzzword for a long time and I don't know if anyone has really cracked the code there.” - Sourcer, mid-market org 

  • “Given the current climate, organizations have to put diversity metrics in place.” - Recruiting Coordinator, large enterprise 

  • “Our interview structure and unconscious bias trainings (diversity hiring) have become a priority for retention purposes.” - HR Specialist - Talent Acquisition/Recruiting, mid-market org 

  • “Pay transparency continues to be huge, which goes hand in hand with DEIB recruitment efforts.” - Recruiter, mid-market org 

  • “Most important? Diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunity.” - Sourcer, large enterprise 

  • “We’re already participating in structured interviews on some teams, and working on rolling out pay bands for all roles which will provide pay transparency. Diversity recruiting is top-of-mind and will only continue. We’ve been speaking a lot about skills-based hiring and will move in that direction more.” - Sourcing/Recruiting Manager, SMB 

No doubt, diversity will continue to be an urgent topic in talent acquisition, and diversity strategies an integral element of exceptional culture and team-building. In our 2022 Recruiting Trends: Diversity report, we give you a long glimpse into how your peers are thinking about diversity in their respective organizations: what their goals and initiatives look like, how they’re tracking, where they’re challenged, and how remote hiring has impacted diversity on their teams. Here are some highlights from that report.

“Difficulty meeting diversity goals” as a top-3 challenge of 2022

47% of ICs at smaller orgs, 39% of ICs at enterprise orgs, 30% of talent leaders at smaller orgs, and 33% of talent leaders at enterprise orgs say that meeting their business’ diversity goals will be one of the hardest challenges for their teams this year—putting “difficulty meeting diversity goals” as the #3 recruiting/hiring challenge for 2022. 

ICs tended to rank “meeting diversity goals” as a slightly more pressing challenge than talent leaders; and recruiting professionals at larger organizations appeared, on the whole, less concerned about meeting those goals than their counterparts at smaller companies. This suggests that the brunt of the weight for meeting diversity goals rests on the shoulders of ICs, and that talent acquisition teams at larger organizations are more likely to believe they have the resources they need to meet them. 

diversity hiring challenges

Barriers to improving diversity

The biggest barrier to improving diversity by far, talent leaders told us, is finding underrepresented talent to begin with—an obstacle that’s required teams to stop “relying too heavily on one platform (the big LI),” as one talent leader put it, and start seeking out job boards, platforms, and organizations where historically underrepresented and/or marginalized talent hangs out. 

The second-biggest barrier to improving diversity in hiring is moving URG candidates through the funnel once they’re in it. Talent leaders who are tracking the data attributed these drop-offs in their hiring funnels either to bias in their processes or to the number of opportunities URG talent—let alone talent on the whole—has access to right now. 

Retention of underrepresented employees came in as the third-biggest barrier, suggesting that teams need to pay attention to the “E” and “I” of DEI in their organizations as much as they do to the “D.” It’s one thing to hire a diverse team; it’s another to afford them equitable opportunities and a culture of belonging to keep them there. ‍

barriers to improving diversity

Diversity and remote work

Talent leaders at smaller orgs are more than 3x as likely to say their company decided to go fully remote during COVID than talent leaders at enterprise orgs are (34% v. 10%). They’re also less likely to say that their business will eventually expect new hires back in an office at least part-time.

diversity and remote work

Given that the majority of talent leaders say remote hiring has helped improve diversity in their orgs during COVID (59% of leaders in smaller orgs and 54% of leaders in enterprise orgs say as much), one best guess is that smaller orgs might find it easier to hit their diversity goals over the long run because of remote or remote-first cultures.‍

diversity and remote hiring

2022 diversity goals and initiatives

Talent leaders at enterprise organizations are somewhat more likely (72% v. 66%) to say their team has a formal diversity hiring initiative or diversity goals in place than talent leaders at smaller companies are. (Regardless of company size, most of these goals are internal rather than public.) The majority of talent leaders with formal diversity goals and initiatives (56% of smaller orgs and 59% of enterprise orgs) say these initiatives consider diversity across the board—gender and racial diversity, alongside other considerations such as veteran or LGBTQIA+ status. 

diversity goals

Over half (55%) of sourcers and recruiters at smaller companies say they have formal diversity hiring initiatives or diversity goals in place, while nearly ¾ (74%) of sourcers and recruiters at enterprise orgs say they do. ICs at enterprise companies are twice as likely (11% v. 22%) to say their diversity initiatives are “very successful.” 

When we asked ICs to elaborate, some patterns emerged: 

  1. A focus on top-of-funnel diversity outreach and what one recruiter called “mindful sourcing”; 

  2. The fact that top-of-funnel diversity doesn't always trickle down due to biases further down the hiring funnel; and 

  3. While diversity is top-of-mind for many sourcers and recruiters, they either have initiatives without goals, or goals that aren’t measured or tracked—so it’s hard to know if teams are trending in the right direction, or how to optimize.‍

diversity hiring success

Here are some strategies your peers said they’re using:

  • “We have a lot of diversity and inclusion programming; we conduct training on diversity hiring; we make sure to have balanced interview panels; we collaborate with various external diversity organizations.” - Recruiter, enterprise org

  • “We have built up our diversity recruiting team and choose agency partners who value diversity.” - Recruiting coordinator, enterprise org

  • “We have diversity virtual speakers and attend diversity virtual hiring events with AfroTech and Lesbians Who Tech.” - Sourcer, mid-market org

  • “The business has organized specific bootcamps and tech talks to empower diversity hiring.” - Sourcer, large enterprise

  • “We do sourcing jams.” - Sourcer, mid-market org

  • “We have a dedicated diversity sourcing team that reaches out to DEI candidates only. We also have rules set in place to interview a set amount of diverse candidates before non-diverse candidates can come into the process.” - Sourcer, enterprise org

  • “We apply the "Rooney Rule" where 2 diverse candidates must be interviewed by the Hiring Manager before an offer can be extended to a non-diverse candidate.” - Recruiter, mid-market org

  • “Our company as a whole has a DEI goal in place. As a sourcer, I am supposed to reach out to 25% of URG candidates each week.” - Sourer, enterprise org

Curious to hear more strategies, best practices, and insights regarding diversity recruiting and hiring? Check out Gem’s 2022 Recruiting Trends: Diversity Edition. And if you’re curious about how Gem can help you track your diversity efforts through insights into your hiring funnel… well, we’re more than happy to chat with you about that as well.


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