4 Tips for Recruiting a Diverse Public Sector Workforce

Diversity in the United States is increasing. Between 2010 and 2019, the Asian American population grew by a staggering 29.3%, the Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population by 21%, the Hispanic population by 20%, the American Indian and Alaskan Native population by 13.1%, and the Black population by 11.5%.

As a government organization, are you adequately representing this diversity in your workforce?

Public sector diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies are aimed at recruiting and managing a diverse workforce with access to equal opportunities. So, what is diversity and how can you successfully implement diversity recruiting strategies in your government organization?

What is Diversity and Why Does it Matter?

Diversity encompasses race, ethnic groups, gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability and languages. It also extends to education, skills, professional backgrounds and personality strengths. But, why does diversity matter and how does it impact your organization?

Recruiting a cross-section of people from different demographics and backgrounds offers the following benefits:

A More Engaged Workforce

A report by Deloitte showed that when employees see their organization as highly committed to, and supportive of diversity and inclusion, they are 80% more likely to feel that they work in a high-performing organization.

Better Serve Your Constituents

Public sector constituents, like private sector consumers, have high expectations. They want fast and efficient service and those from minority groups may prefer being served by someone who speaks their language and understands the nuances of the culture.

More Creative Problem-Solving

Recruiting a diverse workforce leads to disruptive thinking. You’ll receive deeper insights into targeted communities or population groups and more creative solutions from employees who have a better understanding of those communities. They will also be able to alert you to emerging issues so that you can address them promptly.

Greater Innovation

Government institutions are sometimes perceived as not being progressive. Diversity recruiting can turn that around. You’ll have a team of talented employees with different perspectives, experiences and abilities to spark new ideas and innovation.

All of this means you’ll have a more dynamic workforce that can better relate to and meet the needs of the communities you serve.

5 Tips for Recruiting a Diverse Workforce

Pew Research Center found that 75% of Americans believe it is important for organizations to promote racial and ethnic diversity in their workplace. However, just as many (74%) felt that employers should not only take race and ethnicity into account when hiring or promoting staff, but should hire based on qualifications.

What this shows is that most people value both diversity and skills, and your recruitment strategy should reflect this. Here are five diversity recruiting strategies you can implement to attract diverse and talented employees to your organization.

1. Represent diversity in your recruiting materials

This may seem trivial, but a lack of diversity in your recruiting materials can influence a candidate’s opinion of your organization. If your recruitment materials don’t represent diversity it can be a turn-off to potential employees. Update your recruitment materials to show diversity but don’t create a false picture. Try to keep the imagery as close to reality as possible.

2. Cast a wide net

If your current recruitment channels work, there’s no need to stop using them. However, to find more diverse candidates, you may need to cast a wider net.

Find out where your ideal candidates are conducting their job searches. Are they using recruitment agencies, social media, networking events, professional associations, immigrant refugee groups, online job boards or tear-off job ads posted on community notice boards? What about students graduating from community colleges?

Don’t overlook other government departments or ex-military communities. You could find some great talent by tapping into your government resources.

3. Leverage employee testimonials

Testimonials are excellent at winning customers, right? Well, they’re just as good at attracting new employees. Testimonials from current employees sharing why they love working for your organization can be what seals the deal for a new recruit. When these testimonials represent a diverse cross-section of your workforce, it indicates that your organization is welcoming and supportive of employees from all walks of life.

4. Determine an applicant’s cultural fit

Diversity recruiting can be tricky. You’re likely to focus on typical diversity markers, such as gender, race, and culture, but it doesn’t end there. You also need to assess a candidate to see if they fit the organization's culture. Do their energy, philosophies, values and work ethic align with your organization?

Key Takeaways on Public Sector DEI

Diversity in the public sector adds value to your organization and, ultimately, to the services you provide to the public. Public sector DEI is important for another reason: it demonstrates that government leads by example, encouraging the private sector to do the same.  As both sectors become more inclusive, we can more rapidly level the playing fields across the country.

Andrew Nelson, MPA

Andrew is a highly-rated Executive Recruiter and local government practitioner with experience in municipal finance, court management, transportation planning, and general management of municipal operations. He is a strong human resources professional with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) focused in Local Government Management from Brigham Young University.‍

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.