Diversity Recruiting Part 1: Rethinking Your Pipeline Strategy

The topic of diversity and inclusion may not be new, but the focus and urgency surrounding it have reached a peak level. Recruiting and talent professionals are finding themselves at the forefront of the conversation as they are uniquely positioned to drive diversity within their organizations. In this post, we’ll cover how Lyft’s technical recruiting team embedded diversity and inclusion into their recruiting strategy.

Rethinking Your Pipeline Strategy

When recruiters think about how they can inform their candidate pipelines to drive diversity they often think of sourced candidates. However, to be successful, recruiters have to rethink how they approach every part of their funnel, which includes candidates they’ve sourced, those that have been referred by employees and those that have applied.


1. Sourcing for Diversity

Adjusting your sourcing strategies may seem like the most straightforward way to drive diversity through recruiting, but it can also be the hardest. You’ll need to tune your favorite sourcing techniques to make them more relevant for a diverse cadre of candidates as well as develop new approaches that allow you to engage with communities that are not a part of your network.

Community Resources

A great place to start is by researching and finding relevant associations, networking groups, and publications that serve the communities you want to work with. Starting where the community already is and making your organization a part of the existing conversation is a great way to increase awareness and begin building the connections you’ll need to source great candidates.

Sourcing Criteria and Keywords

Reevaluating the indicators you use to source candidates is vital. Education and past experience are some of the most common shortcuts that recruiters use. Breaking the mold of mainly pursuing candidates from traditional top-tier universities and fortune 100 companies is a big step. Look at colleges, vocational training programs and 2-year schools serving the communities you want to engage. Search for candidates within industries you don’t normally recruit from.

“Be open to the idea that great candidates can come from different backgrounds and bring something valuable to your company,” said Adrianna. You and your hiring managers will be pleasantly surprised to discover the unique drive, skill-set, and values candidates from these sources will bring to the table.

Sourcing Events

Events are a powerful way to drive candidates and that is no different when it comes to your diversity strategies. Internal events are a great way to identify allies within your company who are interested in supporting your efforts and are a great opportunity to train recruiters across your organization on the techniques you’re developing.

External events are crucial, whether you’re attending or hosting them. If you want to hire candidates with diverse backgrounds, you have to get out and engage with their communities. The relationships you’ll build there will help you develop the connections that drive candidates to your organization.

Source Across All Levels

Finally, make sure that you’re not only sourcing a diverse candidate base at the entry-level but also with senior leaders. Having a leadership team with diverse backgrounds drives a culture of inclusion that creates career pathways for all employees.


2. Driving Diverse Referrals

Referrals are some of the strongest candidates a recruiter can get. Candidates sourced through employees’ networks convert into hires at staggeringly higher rates and do so faster than candidates from any other source. The question is, how do you get diverse referrals?


Referral-a-thons are an important driver of candidates with diverse backgrounds. Normally when employees refer candidates in their network, they only submit contacts who they know are actively searching for new roles. A referral event allows recruiters to prompt employees to actively refer passive candidates from underrepresented groups.

Group and 1-on-1 referral sessions

The same work can be done in smaller groups or 1-on-1 sessions with employees. The different frameworks bring different strengths. Larger events help spread the word about diversity and inclusion efforts, small group sessions are a great format for valuable conversations, and 1-on-1 sessions allow you to tap into the network of specific employees.

“At Lyft, referral-a-thons have helped drive a significant pipeline of candidates,” said Adrianna De Battista, “smaller group sessions on other hand drive really valuable conversations within the company.” It’s important to think about what will work best within your organization and what format will help you reach your goals.

Buy-In From Senior Leadership

Finally, it’s vital to get the support and buy-in from the executive team. “I always say, get your senior leadership involved,” said Adrianna De Battista, “we had our VP of engineering reach out to the entire tech team and invite them to our referral-a-thon and that drove an amazing turnout.” Executive involvement communicates to every employee how important the work of diversity and inclusion is and that your organization is truly committed to it.


3. Attracting A Diverse Cadre of Candidates

It may seem counterintuitive to some recruiters that they can influence their inbound applied candidates, but in fact some of the best strategies for diversity recruiting sit in this channel.

Filter In

“The most powerful advice I’ve ever gotten as a recruiter is to ‘filter in’ candidates in,” said Adrianna. If there is a question in your mind about the candidate, err on the side of giving them the phone-screen. If you don’t know much about the school the candidate matriculated from or the company they work at, pay close attention to what they’re working on and what problems they’re focused on solving. “Give the candidate the opportunity, open that door for them and see what they do with the chance,” said Adrianna. Often you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the result.

Write Better Job Descriptions

Writing better job descriptions is the next big step in seeing your applied candidate base move away from the direction of homogeneity. Lever has written an entire post on writing better job descriptions, but you can start by making sure your JDs describe the job that is to be done rather than the employee you’re looking to hire. The reason is simple: if your job description describes a particular type of person instead of the job, you are likely turning a lot of qualified candidates off from applying.

Community-Based Job Boards

Finally, find job boards and platforms that serve the community you’re trying to engage. Lyft uses Jopwell and PowertoFly to post key open roles. There are also many tools that allow for localization like Craigslist and even Nextdoor. Be creative about finding ways to expose new communities to career opportunities at your organization!


We loved learning about Lyft’s approach to embedding diversity and inclusion into their recruiting pipeline efforts. The 2nd blog post in this series will cover how Lyft works to lower bias in their interview process. You can view the full on-demand recording of the webinar here: 3 Diversity Recruiting Strategies from Lyft.

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