SmartRecruiters Releases State of Diversity Hiring Report 2021

The 2021 SmartRecruiters State of Diversity Hiring Report highlights opportunities for employers to move from good intentions to lasting impact.


Business leaders at the smallest startups to the largest global corporations have publicly committed to taking action against bias and discrimination in the workplace. But how well are they succeeding?

Not very, research from SmartRecruiters suggests. The new report, based on aggregated responses of hundreds of talent leaders to SmartRecruiters’ Diversity Hiring Assessment, found that many organizations are struggling to translate their vision of a more diverse and inclusive workforce into actionable strategies for attracting diverse talent, interview and selection processes, and diversity hiring budget.

“People are well-intentioned. They really want diversity,” said Jerome Ternynck, founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters. “But nothing’s changed in the last decade. Why? The reality is that companies are not doing the simple things.” 


Key Findings

  • Barely Scratching the Surface: Many organizations are missing out on the most basic opportunities to publicly share their commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce with potential applicants. Attracting diverse talent requires a deliberate, highly strategic partnership between your D&I, talent acquisition, and marketing teams.  Yet, 56% of respondents reported they don’t consistently publicize their diversity plans, commitment, metrics, and outcomes.
  • Working Without a Plan: Many employers’ recruitment plans are neither strategic nor specific enough to move the needle. Among participants, 51% said they don’t have a process for setting diversity hiring goals. 
  • Neglected Opportunities for Internal Talent: Fair and competitive internal hiring plays a critical role in D&I success, yet many organizations do not follow best practices to engage the diverse employees they already have.  For example, less than 15% of participants currently scrub identifying factors from internal applications to minimize bias from hiring managers and give diverse internal talent a fair shot. 
  • Bias Keeps Creeping In: Fair hiring processes add perspective, consistency, and structure to the hiring process, ensuring that all hiring touchpoints minimize bias. However, many employers have yet to adopt best practices for minimizing bias in recruitment and promotion. For example, only 31% of companies have implemented structured interviews, and only 21% use assessments to evaluate a candidate’s competencies.
  • Budgets Haven’t Budged: Employers aren’t adequately funding their D&I initiatives in line with their publicly stated goals. Meaningful progress requires aligning investment with intent. Only 32% have a budget that aligns with their stated objectives.

The lack of financial investment is a particularly critical constraint, impacting all others. “Candidates are tired of seeing companies make empty promises to improve diversity and inclusion,” says Rocki Howard, Chief Diversity Officer at SmartRecruiters. “By authorizing adequate funding for diversity hiring initiatives, company leaders signal their commitment to diversity with capital — a much stronger (and more meaningful) action than public statements alone.”

Download the full report.


About the Diversity Hiring Toolkit

Hundreds of business leaders have used Diversity Hiring Toolkit to empower their teams to develop a clear, actionable plan to achieve their strategic diversity hiring goals.

The Toolkit, which is accessible to companies of all sizes and industries at no cost, regardless of whether they are SmartRecruiters customers, includes:

  • Diversity Hiring Maturity Model and Standards of Success: Clear criteria by which organizations can be evaluated to assess their diversity hiring capabilities. The Model is organized around 4 Success Pillars.
  • Diversity Hiring Assessment: A comprehensive questionnaire to understand your current level of competency and identify areas of improvement.
  • Diversity Hiring Blueprint: A custom report based on your self-assessment that provides bespoke guidance and actionable insights based on your level of maturity.

About SmartRecruiters

SmartRecruiters enables Hiring Without Boundaries™ by freeing talent acquisition teams from legacy applicant tracking software. SmartRecruiters' next-generation platform serves as the hiring operating system for 4,000 customers like Bosch, LinkedIn, Skechers, and Visa. Companies with business-critical hiring needs turn to SmartRecruiters for best-of-breed functionality, world-class support, and a robust ecosystem of third-party applications and service providers.

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