Enhanced Diversity Recruiting Initiative

Client Challenge

One of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies sought to increase diversity hiring within its Commercial Sales, R&D, and Global Manufacturing business units. The goal was simple: increase diversity representation on interview slates to a minimal mix of 25% diverse candidates on each slate. The challenge, however, was significant: there are precious few diverse candidates represented in the populations that were targeted for this initiative.

Our Solution

In partnership with our client's Talent Acquisition team, we led the development and the execution of a highly targeted recruiting approach that used a combination of deep research, focused sourcing, and direct outreach recruiting to identify potential candidates and build robust pools of diverse talent. The solution included:

  • Identified specific roles within each group to be targeted for enhanced diversity recruiting. This is a critical element, because setting a diversity target for all roles spreads the recruiting efforts too thin and ultimately leaves too little bandwidth to meet the goals.
  • Built specific research and direct sourcing approaches for each role. This research had two goals: 1) identify candidates for current assigned requisitions; and 2) build pipelines and talent pools for future openings. The research methods included networking into diverse professional groups and associations; proactively searching a variety of web-based sources to identify diverse talent; review of diversity presentations, conference agendas, and professional association documents to find potential candidates; and other internet-based deep research methods to find and communicate with diverse pools of talent.
  • Implemented proactive, direct recruiting initiatives to solicit candidates against current and potential future openings, including cold calling, one-toone emails, and direct solicitation to candidates via multiple channels.
  • Conducted phone interviews to determine qualification and potential match for open roles; assessed candidate's suitability, and forwarded interested candidates to client recruiters for inclusion in their interview slates.


Over the past 18 months, this project has achieved all of its goals and has exceeded some others, as follows:

  • The company targets 40-50 currently open positions per month for diversity targeting.
  • We identify about 200 new, qualified diverse candidates per month, of which approximately 50% are moved to a client recruiter's inbox.
  • We identify another 200-400 candidates per month that are added to the client's diversity recruiting database for use in future recruiting initiatives.
  • 85% of assigned positions have at least a 25% diversity representation in the interview slate. Many have an even higher representation.
  •  Client has renewed this project for 5 consecutive quarters, moving it from a successful pilot program on a few select business lines to being implemented across all business functions.

Key Lessons Learned

The most effective way to increase diverse hiring is to increase diversity representation on interview slates. In other words, the more diverse prospective candidates that are identified on the front end of the recruiting effort, the more likely it will be that diversity hiring will increase. More choice = more hires.

A focused, dedicated effort is needed to identify diverse candidates, especially for hard-to-fill roles, for roles where limited diverse populations exist, or for roles that traditionally are overrepresented in one gender.

Improving diversity hiring performance is not a one-shot endeavor with a quick fix. It requires a continuous, sustained effort, and an understanding that the efforts may not produce results right out of the gate. By building pipelines and relationships with diverse communities over time, diverse candidate flow can be increased, creating more robust diversity slates, which will result in more diverse hiring.

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