The Cost of Poor Diversity Recruitment – Hiring for Qualifications and Not Just Protected Class


As I ramp up to reviewing data for an upcoming revision of the affirmative action plan document I created last summer, this article couldn’t be any more timely. In her blog, Sabrina Baker discusses the challenges of the affirmative action balancing act: hiring qualified candidates while incorporating hiring for diversity. The high level take away is this: ALWAYS HIRE THE MOST QUALIFIED INDIVIDUAL(S)! Yes, I intended to put that phrase in all caps so that I hammer home that qualified candidates should be the only perspective hires you extend offers to. Do not base your hiring decisions on “diversity.” Are you one of those data driven HR professionals that needs to see the cost behind a bad hire, albeit, a bad diversity hire? This next section is for you…

The cost of hiring someone specifically because they are “diverse” (i.e. protected under Title VII regulations) and not because they are the strongest, most qualified candidate and best fit for the job, can be astronomical. For kicks and giggles, let’s look at a “guesstimate” expenditure for hiring a non-qualified, but diverse candidate.You are ABC (big) Tech Company’s in-house Recruiter making $24/hour. Here comes the math:

1. You spend a total of 30 hours screening through the 410 resumes you received for a Systems Administrator position = $720.00

2. You spend 5 hours scheduling phone screens for the 39 applicants you want to speak with = $120.00

3. You spend approximately 34 minutes per applicant phone screen (some interviews went well and you ran over your standard 30 minute interview period while other candidates were removed from the candidate pool early in the call because their resume was fluff) =  $530.40 ([39 calls X 34 minutes / 60 minutes] x $24/hr)

4. You decide to bring in a total of 10 candidates to meet with the hiring team in-person; 4 of those candidates are super qualified and 6 of those candidates have approximately 60% of the SKA’s and practical work experience of your most qualified candidates, but… these final 6 are all Asian American war Veterans and you are trying to meet your affirmative action numbers in a department that is 98% White Males. Score! Asian American war Vets are double minorities! 2 people sit on the hiring team (let’s say combined, they cost the company $140/hr). With each candidate, the hiring managers conduct pair interviews that last 1.5 hours. You also meet with the candidate for 30 minutes to qualify the cultural fit of the candidates. The cost of these in-person interviews is = $2,200.00 ([$140/hr x {10 candidates x 90 minutes}] + [$24/hr x {10 candidates x 30 minutes}])  

5. You select 3 candidates to meet with the company’s chief officer (she makes $145/hr) for a 20 minute final interview = $145

Up to this point, you have invested $3,715.40 into your recruitment process and we didn’t even add in the cost of each job board you advertised on. What if you hire 2 diversity candidates that weren’t the most qualified but you were trying to fill an affirmative action quote, they work for your company for one year each at a salary of $75,000 and shortly after their year anniversary, you terminate them for poor performance? At the base line, you just cost your company $153,715.40, best case scenario. I say “best case” because we’ve seen a rise in litigation brought against companies over the past 5-6 years for what the former employee feels was a Title VII qualifying discrimination-based termination. Even if you don’t end up going to court, you still spend money on an attorney to represent your company during arbitration. I think you get the idea now – hiring unqualified candidates will cost you $$$.

The smartest and most cost-effective course of action in recruitment is to hire qualified candidates only. Follow a few of the best practices that Sabrina calls out, and you should be on track to making the best, most qualified hiring decision:

  • Use diverse outlets to share your job openings
  • Leverage diversity organizations
  • Post  and source on job boards focused on minority groups
  • Advertise on diverse outlets (news/radio/print media/TV) 
  • Attend minority and veteran focused career fairs

How do you successfully manage diversity recruiting in your organization?



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