The word ‘diversity’ is being thrown around a lot in today’s corporate world, though many companies are still struggling to fully understand this concept. Firms are aware that a more diverse workforce ultimately leads to enhanced productivity and a boost in profits. However, simply hiring a few diverse workers won’t solve anything. Companies need to evaluate their diversity initiatives and work towards creating a culture that accommodates people of all backgrounds and encourages them to collaborate. Let’s take a step back and evaluate the hiring process, and how it might be stopping diverse candidates from entering your company.

Token Candidates


Today, firms and organizations across the world are spending money in an attempt to find the best diverse candidates in the job market. Once they identify these individuals, companies use various strategies to encourage them to apply. However, many companies still treat diversity as a mandatory requirement to be checked off the list instead of actually devoting the necessary time and resources to find and reach out to a diverse pool of candidates. The result? By the end of the hiring process, most interview teams are only left with one woman, or other minority candidate, among a host of white-male job seekers.

This isn’t because diverse candidates aren’t qualified to apply for the job positions. The reason why there are so few diverse applicants in the latter stages of the hiring process is because companies don’t reach out to enough minority candidates during their recruitment efforts. A company might be convinced that they’ve fulfilled their diversity quota as long as at least one diverse applicant makes it to the last stage of the hiring process. This ‘token’ candidate has an almost 0% chance of being hired, even if they possess qualifications equal to their white peers.

The Problem


Towards the end of the hiring process, the applicant pool is typically reduced to a number of white males and one (if any) minority candidate. Though they will not admit it, many hiring managers possess unconscious biases that can guide their preferences and actions. So when an interview team sees eight candidates, of which only one is a woman, they may presume right away that the candidate made it this far solely because she is female. The interview team might also think that most of the other female candidates were removed from consideration in the earlier rounds, due to their incompetence. So how would this woman be any different? She could only be here to fulfill the company’s diversity quota. Unfortunately, situations like this can cause hiring teams to make judgments based on the person’s background instead of giving them a fair shot at landing the job. However, let’s say the final pool has at least three women vying for the job. It’s highly likely that one of them will be hired, because there will be a reduced chance of discrimination by the hiring team.

So as manager of a company trying to improve its diversity, it is important that you spend significant time and money to locate the right applicants and persuade them to apply to your organization. By doing this, you will draw in a much larger pool of talent, and more minority candidates will make it to the last stages of the process. Of course, it can be expensive and time consuming. However, the advantages of having a more diverse workforce by far outweigh the costs of finding and reaching out to the various groups of talented people in the job market.