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ATD Blog

Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Culture: Recruiting

Monday, April 5, 2021

Over the next handful of blog posts, we will examine the multiple stages of crafting a culture from the beginning of searching for talent, onboarding, and supporting the employee life cycle and growth and retention. Even while writing this I’m taking a deep breath as I consider the work that goes into all of these stages, and it bears reminding that this is a journey and takes time. Like most culture work, it’s best to think of it in stages and over time, always keeping the bigger picture in the back of your mind while you take deeper dives annually to build upon, develop, and grow your staff, processes, and culture.

Inclusion Starts in Recruiting

Recruitment and talent acquisition form the backbone of how you draft and build your culture and set the stage for what kind of organization you want to have. I cannot stress enough that the people in these roles are critical to your organization, yet they are not alone in creating an inclusive and diverse workforce from the start.

These roles are not just skill based or being a great recruiter; those who fill them must have the understanding, knowledge, and background of unconscious bias as well as the desired internal culture and the skills required. They also need to be nuanced in having challenging conversations and influence. When you have this combination, you and your teams are better set for success.

Expand the Network

The key to a better talent acquisition process is to bring in others. Expand the support network by tapping into your employee resource groups and those interested in advancing the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Have them aid the creation and overhaul of the process. The team should include employees from various areas including L&D.


DEI no longer sits on the side but is an integrated function of all areas. This means the partnerships between HR, L&D, and DEI needs to be present and visible to assist in change and education along the way. This journey does not live in these functions alone as it needs care and attention to grow and go deep within the organization. It’s pivotal to understand your role in the organization and this movement.

Start by partnering and looking at what skills are needed to do the job. While this is changing, there is still an inclination by hiring managers and others to exaggerate what is required to do the job. We must separate the need versus the want. Dig in deeper with curiosity on what the need is. What do they need to do? What are those skills and behaviors?


Ask Key Questions

Next, look at these skills with fresh eyes and think outside of the usual by asking:

  • What transferable skills could be applied here?
  • What other ways would someone gain these skills aside from earning a degree?
  • Is a certificate or college degree really needed here?
  • What have we done in the past and did it result in what we need for the future?
  • Where is a fresh perspective needed?
  • How can we develop the role internally?

With this in mind, examine how and where you post and advertise for the role. If you want to diversify your candidate pool, then you need to diversify where and how you post your jobs. Seek out or expand partnership with community groups who have knowledge of candidates in underrepresented groups and areas.

With so many roles moving to remote work, this has shown you can expand your candidate pools. You can pivot and adapt. If you are committed to diversity, look at offering relocation to roles you previously didn’t offer that to.

Examine the language you use in your posting. Is it inclusive? Does it support your goal to attract more diverse candidates? Ask others to examine and offer insight. Above all, stay open and build a curiosity mindset within the hiring group.

About the Author

Andrea DiMatteo has decades of experience crafting organizational culture and learning from the ground up. She served as head of Learning and Development with New Belgium Brewing and in 2018, co-founded DiMatteo Consulting. Currently, she is Head of L&D with The Moxie Exchange blending her passion for creating inclusive cultures with her strengths in learning organizations and teams. Andrea holds a Master of Education in Adult Education and Training, a Bachelor of Arts, and several certificates in leadership development and training.

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