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Diversity Hiring Report 2021

Have you read SmartRecruiters' "Diversity Hiring Report"? aka The path to Hell is paved with good intentions...

Ya' should, even if it is a little depressing. Chief Customer Officer Rachel Orston joins the podcast and discusses the results of surveying over 400 employers about diversity recruiting. Needless to say, we have a long way to go. Fifty percent of organizations have NO PLAN on diversity. Maybe we could start there. The good news: Lots of room for improvement.

INTRO (1s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel (22s):

We'll make you famous. What's up everybody. This is your co-host Joel Cheeseman, and you're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I am joined as always by my cohost, Chad Sowash.

Chad (34s):

What's up?

Joel (35s):

And today we're talking a little diversity, happy to welcome Rachel Orston and Chief Customer Officer at Smart Recruiters. Rachel, welcome to HRS most dangerous podcast.

Rachel (47s):

Thank you so much for having me.

Joel (50s):

So I gave you a very little title there in our intro, but what should our listeners know about you the person?

Rachel (58s):

I've been in the customer success, chief customer officer space for a long time and it's man, it's hard work. You got to work to make customers get value out of the technology that they're investing in and help them achieve their goals. And it's something I love to do, and I'm proud that I get to do it at Smart Recruiters.

Joel (1m 13s):

And you have a few customers there at Smart Recruiters. Don't yeah, just a

Rachel (1m 16s):

Just a few, just a few small insignificant unknown companies. Yes, yes. Just a few.

Chad (1m 23s):

Very nice. And you're a Deadpool fan. Am I correct?

Rachel (1m 26s):

I'm a big Deadpool fan. Absolutely.

Chad (1m 30s):

She's already won over my heart.

Rachel (1m 32s):

It's a family film. I told you it's a family film.

Joel (1m 36s):

Coming next is an hour worth of Deadpool conversation with Chad Sowash, the only thing he loves more is diversity.

Chad (1m 43s):

Yeah diverse Deadpool. So first and foremost, I would like to thank you, Rachel. And the Smart Recruiters team for putting this report together. It is enlightening and good, in a quite horrible way. Now I believe the title of the report is Diversity Hiring Report, but I think it should have been a tad different. Are you ready? Diversity Hiring Report: The Path To Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions. I mean seriously, because all I'm reading is the great work that you guys did to do nothing but expose what we've seen over the last couple of decades. It doesn't feel like anybody is budging. Are you seeing something different than I am? Rachel?

Rachel (2m 22s):

Look, I think you raise a good point. I mean, I think the whole point of the report was saying that we're missing the basics, we're missing the fundamentals and that, you know, many companies, even some of the bigger ones that took our study are missing a basic plan, right and/or a budget for a plan. But it does start first with having this conversation, right? That's why I'm so glad you guys brought, brought me on and are, you know, helping us, you know, drive this conversation a bit louder. Cause until we, I think really aggregated these results in a more cohesive way, maybe, you know, our hope is to shine a bigger light on this on the fact that, you know, there are a number of companies that are still in at the beginning of this journey.

Chad (2m 59s):

Yeah, no question. Well, one, the things I want to point out right out of the gate was really, there are five areas that we're going to talk about to some extent, first and foremost, you know, barely scratching the surface is one of the key points and key takeaways. And under that, it says "many organizations are missing out on the basic opportunities to share their commitment, to building a diverse and inclusive workforce with potential applicants." And then the next four points are working without a plan.

Rachel (3m 34s):


Chad (3m 35s):

Budgets, haven't budged neglecting opportunities for internal talent and bias keeps creeping in. So the commitment doesn't exist to job seekers and over the years they've seen this whole diversity kind of facade is a lie more than anything that's substantial and something that they should actually take notice of. So the first thing is we start talking about representation. We start talking about planning. What's the most important piece that you would like to start with first?

Rachel (4m 5s):

I think the biggest piece is that there is that this doesn't have to be a huge lift, that there are measurable strategic actions that companies can take. There are best practices, right. And part of why we did this report was we also built a toolkit, right? So we could actually say, okay, here's where you are. And by the way, I'm happy to transparently share where Smart Recruiters is because by the way, we took it ourselves and it went and kind of, you know, drink our own champagne, so to speak on the same thing, which is interesting and of itself. And so the whole point to your point is, you know, let's drive a conversation, let's be honest about where we are and where we're not, which you know, to your point is not great. And then let's also see like, what actions can we take? And so I want to be clear that the report was part one of a bigger, you know, initiative of ours, which is really to say, okay, now what can companies do?

Rachel (4m 50s):

That's where the toolkit comes in, where we've got some very practical recommendations, for example, right? Like, like how can companies just better diversify their career pages? Let's just start with attract. Let's just start with how companies are trying to get candidates in. Right? Are they making any efforts or initiatives to actually modify or target their career pages or their career events towards, you know, towards diverse, you know, candidates. Right? So there's some really interesting opportunities there on transparency. Can they do more on score-carding and how they're creating a transparent, more collaborative interview process? Right. So there isn't like backdoor bias, right? So we kind of outline, I won't go through each one. I'm happy to, but the point is we really started to say, okay, here's some very practical things that companies can do to get started because this doesn't have to be that difficult.

Rachel (5m 39s):

There are steps that companies can take.

Chad (5m 42s):


Joel (5m 43s):

Chad has his own title for this, for the survey.

Rachel (5m 45s):

Yes! Let's hear it.

Joel (5m 46s):

I have mine as well. The Big Bummer. I think was my, was my title for this. And what so quickly on the methodology, you guys surveyed 400 or so companies of various sizes and industries to do this and the survey went for how, like, what time span was this survey done? Yeah,

Rachel (6m 7s):

It was done over several months. I mean, the survey itself takes about, you know, there's about a hundred or so questions, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. So, you know, we did keep it open for a fairly sizable period of time so we can get, you know, as broad of a, you know, demographic of companies to take the survey, we were looking for, you know, folks across, across the organizations of all. So we were really trying to get as big of a net across sizes and industries as we could, whether they were Smart Recruiter customers or not. So I would say probably about four or five months, I don't know exactly, but it was a sizable amount of time. And then we had to aggregate the data and put the report together.

Joel (6m 46s):

So this year, roughly post pandemic, so this is post COVID. One of the big bummers of this for me, and Chad and I talked to a lot of people in diversity and DNI. And, we talk a lot about that there are actually budgets now for companies to do these initiatives. And we talk to vendors who provide services to companies to improve their diversity recruiting. But yet in your report, 62% said there was no diversity sourcing budget. Does that surprise you? And what is the major hurdle to getting budgetary outlets to diversity recruiting?

Rachel (7m 27s):

It's a bit of the chicken and egg thing like I said, I don't know. It didn't surprise us necessarily and I think it goes back to the main point that we made, which is people don't have a plan. How are you going to secure budget? If you don't have a plan, or if you don't have some really practical places. So, so why would somebody fund you if you don't have a plan or a place that you want to, you know, invest in, right? You don't have some very pragmatic approaches. And so again, that's why we kept for going back to, okay, how can we empower companies to start thinking about having a plan? Where should we recommend they start so that they can start to be more aggressive in going after those budget dollars? I believe the budget dollars can be there, but the companies have to be intentional and they have to start getting a plan together.

Joel (8m 7s):

Which leads me to my next big bummer, which was that 50%, according to your survey, have no plan. How do we get people to that first step? That seems like such a Herculean effort at the moment.

Rachel (8m 19s):

I think it's about having these conversations, right? And we've been having these, not just through the report, but in, you know, in round table discussions with our customer base. I think it's about talking about it openly and being transparent that we need help because I don't think plans are just going to be made up in a vacuum. I honestly believe that part of the things that we want, whether it's our customers or people outside of our, outside of our immediate customer community to do is just start talking about this and learning from one another. Start talking about what customers, what we do a lot is share what some of our customers are doing with what some of our customers aren't doing. Right? And getting those people to talk to one another and learn from one another, because that's honestly, I think where the good ideas come from his customers, or not just our customers, but companies need to start talking to one another.

Rachel (9m 1s):

Whether they're in their same industry or cross, TA leaders need to start connecting on this topic and learning from one another. And that's what we're hoping to do obviously by this report is to get that conversation going. Because there are companies that are too, you know, we could talk about the 60%, but then let's also talk about the 40%, right? So there are 40% that are, and we need those 40%. We need those 60% to start learning from those other ones and start, hopefully getting some inspiration.

Chad (9m 23s):

I think one of the things we don't do well enough in talent acquisition and HR at all, is look at the business opportunity. So let's take a look at representation really quick, only 18% of companies in the report had disability representation on the company website, career pages, blogs, social media, and other collateral.

Rachel (9m 45s):

I know.

Chad (9m 46s):

Which means they more than likely don't have disability represented in their company. So do you realize there are more than 1 billion that's with a "b" billion or 15% of the world's population who are individuals with disabilities? That's a fifth of the estimated global total. And let's talk business terms here. Let's talk about profits and loss profits, which is what the C-suite really cares about. Can you imagine the spending power of that humongous cohort. Take a look at Pepsi. Pepsi actually hired thousands of individuals with disabilities over the past few years, 22% of those individuals, around 22% of those individuals were disabled veterans.

Chad (10m 32s):

This is an initiative where Pepsi partnered with external experts to build talent pipelines, and which also achieve hiring outcomes and demonstrated much higher retention rates. Now, Pepsi can confidently go into the markets to this community, this huge community, and they can start talking about marketing and sales through the eyes of their employees. So, I mean, this is from our standpoint, we're not taking a look at this problem, like business people, are we?

Rachel (11m 2s):

No we're not. And I think it goes back to leadership, ultimately, I'm sure this is where you're going, but it is a leadership issue in how they view their business, and back to values in term of seeing one plus one equals three, right? I think there are companies that see it, you know, and see how it can absolutely benefit business. And then there are other companies that can't make that connection. And I think it does come down to leadership and some leaders putting their actions where or their money and their actions where their mouth is. And that's obviously what we need more of. I like that example though. I had not heard of that. And I appreciate you sharing that one.

Chad (11m 37s):

Yeah. Well, and again, as we take a look at trying to make this more of a business case, as opposed to a charity case, that's what we've always dealt with. We've begged for cash as opposed to went to the C-suite with numbers and the opportunity, right, the actual business opportunity. So go back to budget and here's some, some information from the report that I thought was interesting "question, does your company invest in job fairs? 55%? Yes. Job fairs. Does your company invest in community partnership 61% no."

Chad (12m 18s):

How do they think they're actually going to get well branded and receive a better penetration into more diverse markets? If they're not focused on community partnerships or HPCU events, which 68%? No, they're not even investing in those.

Joel (12m 34s):

That blew my mind.

Chad (12m 35s):

Yeah. How do we expect to actually grow and move the needle if we're not doing what it actually takes to move that needle?

Rachel (12m 42s):

Well, I think it's also goes back to talking to your own, you know, you're getting feedback and talking to your own diverse employee base, right. And including them in the process and getting that feedback and having you, because I think to your bone, it goes back to representation. Is there even a voice inside the company that is speaking and advocating for this? Because I think that that's also where we need to start and bring those diverse employees into the conversation and make them feel heard. Because I honestly think a lot of those employees know the right partnerships. They know the universities, or they know the other places because they've been on the receiving line. They've been that candidate they've been through the process, they know, you know? And so I think that it also starts with listen to your employees!

Rachel (13m 26s):

Bring those folks into the process because they know, especially in your industry or they know, you know, where those great partnerships could come from.

Chad (13m 34s):

Well, and then last but not least, does your company invest in market mapping? So we actually talked to a Jackie Clayton who was a DEI expert in this area. She, it actually talked about companies who are making commitments, that they just couldn't keep in specific areas because they wanted 30% of a diverse hiring initiative in a specific area that only had a very low percentage of diverse individuals because they don't have the data and they're not actually mapping toward the opportunity. What should companies do? To be able to, to better set up because they're not planning. Right. So, I mean, I don't know where they should actually start at this point because it sounds like they're not doing anything.

Rachel (14m 17s):

You mean we're where should they start just in the plans?

Chad (14m 20s):


Rachel (14m 20s):

I mean, look, I think it goes back to leadership. It goes back to setting some goals and setting some accountabilities and starting to bring their diverse employees into the process and taking a hard look at what that representation is. And start listening to the few, you know, the people that you have that are committed to your company and come from a diverse background and really give them a voice and a seat at the table to help shape the strategy. I think they obviously perhaps have a vested interest. I know that's what we're hearing from a lot of companies that we're working with is that they're spending more time talking internally and surfacing that, you know, what I call the voice of the employee so to speak in terms of how could they do a better job finding more of those employees.

Rachel (15m 3s):

And they're also really focusing on internal mobility. We didn't even talk about that, but there's a whole other movement, which is to say, not only how do we get more diverse and inclusive in our recruitment practices, but how do we really bring that into our internal mobility, right? How do we bring those people up into levels of leadership so that they can be in a power to have a voice and drive these initiatives forward? And that's honestly a lot of what we're also talking about with our customers as well, because if those people don't have a voice, or if they're not even in positions of leadership or influence, then you've got a bigger problem

Joel (15m 34s):

Let's talk about tech for a second, and your fifth key finding in a bias keeps creeping in. You ask the question of what percentages do not let minorities or diverse employees do interviewing? 61% in technology don't let diverse employees interview candidates. In a world where it seems like technology is trying to solve this problem, it seems counterintuitive that tech still has so much problem such a problem with this issue. What's your take on tech and what blind spots may be.

Joel (16m 13s):

I'm not saying that is making it so challenging for technology to embrace diverse recruiting?

Rachel (16m 17s):

This whole issue isn't a technology issue. I mean, I applaud Smart Recruiters for trying to, you know, continue to move this conversation and to elevate the conversation, to shine a light on the conversation, but we all know the technology is not going to solve this problem. I think technology can help in many areas. I think the ones that we're very focused on is, you know, things that I talked about, which is, you know, how do you better create career sites and pages that are more targeted to diverse employees? I think hiring manager, inclusion and collaboration, like the bias in the let's just talk, let's just be Frank. The hiring and interview process is not very open and it's not very transparent in many companies. And we're talking about those. Let's just put that out there. So when we talk about technology, I think one of the most powerful opportunities, and it's certainly one that Smart Recruiters is very proud of it as far as our capabilities is we're very committed to our platform, driving a very transparent and open recruitment interview process, right?

Rachel (17m 14s):

When you got cards down, score-carding, when you can, when you enforce policies where you cannot get a candidate, until you put your feedback in there and it's open and transparent, right? You want to really deter this whole off the record actions that you know, where you see a lot of the bias come in. So for us, it's really about transparency in the hiring process, and a hiring manager collaboration with their hiring teams. That that to us is a big component of it. At least where we feel technology like a Smart Recruiters can play a real impactful role.

Joel (17m 47s):

So technology isn't going to solve the problems, which will disappoint a lot of the vendors that have come on the show or know the show. It also sounds like resources doesn't solve the problem either. One of the things that surprised me in your study was that companies with 10,000 or more employees, 70% of those had no budget for diversity recruiting, which was pretty much the same as any other size company. What's going on with bigger companies that they're not embracing this, even though they have so much more in the way of resources?

Rachel (18m 19s):

You know, that's an interesting question to ask, you know, what is in the way I, you know, I think that, I think it depends on the industry. I mean, I think it could be, you know, obviously with COVID and other priorities have taken shape, we've got the great resignation, there's other things that are happening depending on the industry. We're seeing it hit some industries more than others. I'm certainly not defending those positions by the way at all, you ask the fair question, you know, it's really a tough one to answer because you're right. Like the budget should be there, the price, you know, and it's like, what's pulling companies away from really doubling down and in really sharpening their focus, as opposed to not, when you know that they've got, you know, ample budget there to put toward it.

Rachel (18m 60s):

Again, I go back to leadership, you know, cause to me that's really where the buck stops. So that's kind of my easy, short answer to it, but may not fully answer the question, but that's, you know, that's kind of, I think clearer way to look at it. I do think it's a leadership priority.

Chad (19m 14s):

Yes. Let's jump back to internal mobility real quick. You touched on it, but there was a question that says, "does your company have an internal posting process that makes all job opportunities available to all employees?" 82% said no.

Rachel (19m 32s):

I know.

Chad (19m 33s):

I mean current employees, the humans who create the widgets, provide the services, write the code and deliver products and services so the organization can thrive are the most neglected asset in the organization. 82% are whiffing on the very basics.

Rachel (19m 49s):

Yes, I think there's a high, I mean, it's probably a longer conversation for another podcast, but I think that there is a real high correlation. I think that that was actually a huge takeaway when I read the report, I said, wow, there's, there's this really interesting correlation between internal mobility investments and just recruitment overall. Like how are companies going to really get themselves out of this, you know, what's the expression, the treadmill, you know, if they can't really stop and really focus on internal mobility as part of the problem too. And seeing internal mobility connected to this to me was a really interesting takeaway that I hope other people, I'm glad that you guys are talking about it, cause I think it was a really interesting takeaway that maybe not everybody got from the report.

Rachel (20m 31s):


Chad (20m 31s):

You also talked about transparency. So I think, and this is me in my own world, in my own head coming up with solutions so it might not sound like a big one to you. But I think the biggest thing that we need to do to move this ball forward for all organizations is to mandate transparency. So that we know from a workforce composition standpoint where everybody is today and good, bad, or indifferent, at least we know where we're at and where we need to go. At this point, we don't know anything. And as we continue to spend money or put out press releases or whatever it is, we're not moving the needle.

Chad (21m 13s):

At least we're not moving it fast enough.

Rachel (21m 15s):

That's right.

Chad (21m 16s):

Do you think transparency for workforce composition might be a key to something like this?

Rachel (21m 20s):

I absolutely do. And you know, it brings it full circle to, you know, just in again for Smart Recruiters, one of the things we're also passionate about it, and I'm sure you've had us talk about this before is hiring success. Right. And, how do we redefine the metrics for hiring success? And as you know, one of our big metrics is, is hiring fit, right and let's get transparent about what makes hiring fit. Right. What's a good fit employee. Right. And, how do we make sure that we're focused not just on hiring velocity, right? Which is, you know, important, which is, are we filling the roles when we needed them filled, which is very different than just cost per hire. Right?

Chad (21m 54s):


Rachel (21m 54s):

But, and so when you asked the question earlier about why aren't people? Well, everyone's trying to hire, we know everybody's top of mind for every CEO, everyone's trying to fill roles right now. But the one thing that we're not transparent is, okay, great, we know we need hiring velocity. We know we need to get the bright people in the right seats when we need them, but are we really having a transparent conversation on what does hiring fit mean? Did we get the right individual in the role and what is our focus as far as fit and where diversity fits in that, that to me is a transparent conversation. Cause we could fill roles, but how do we do it in a very intentional way? Again, I think that goes back to some of our core hiring success, methodology and metrics that we talked very much about with our customers and where to start and putting a light on that from a measurement perspective.

Rachel (22m 42s):


Chad (22m 42s):

So hiring outcomes and then also retention and promotion, I would say might be the additions. Right? Okay.

Rachel (22m 48s):

Yes. Yes.

Joel (22m 49s):

One of the more interesting questions that you asked and the responses that you got were the question are the following represented on your company website? which frankly to me should be some of the easier slam dunks or layups in this branding exercise.

Rachel (23m 3s):


Joel (23m 3s):

So I want to go through a few of these and get your sort of take on this. You asked about religion, which I don't think I particularly ever think about much, but you guys did. This was the highest number that was not represented on the company website at 84%. Why was religion included in the survey? I don't think that's something that we usually think about. I think that we probably should, but what was the thought process internally of including religion?

Rachel (23m 33s):

Very good question. I don't know exactly why religion was included in this survey, per se. I think our goal was to see, was there a diverse approach to how companies, just for us to open the spectrum a bit, to see where are, I don't think. I think it was really our attempt to say, how are people thinking about diversity and not confine ourselves to just what we see, right? What we see, which is one way of how people tend to think about diversity, but let's make this a bit more multi-dimensional right. And layer in some other questions that might allow us to get a better perspective on some things that people may be focused on that we're not that we're not thinking about.

Rachel (24m 14s):

Right. So I think it was really our attempt of trying to not just make diversity, what you see, but broaden it in terms of religion and other characteristics as well.

Joel (24m 24s):

Yeah. So two of the ones that you had that were pretty well-represented, which is where I think most people think about this issue was race and gender.

Rachel (24m 36s):


Joel (24m 36s):

Which had a very, very high number of representation. And then the other two that I thought were interesting were disability, 82% had no representation on their websites and parental status with 78%. No. And I think that's where the most growth will be. And you see things, I think we talked about the mom project briefly in our green room chat. So I'm curious, is it your expectation that disability and parental status will be something that probably we see a lot more of in the coming months?

Rachel (25m 5s):

Yeah, I think so. I definitely think so. And I think that's not, you know, that that is something that I think companies are going to continue to focus on. And I think there's just going to be a lot more intentionality in that. And I think, you know, I talked earlier in the back in the green room that I do think it's a low hanging fruit opportunity. Why companies, aren't just looking at their basic career sites and career pages and really updating that to reflect the candidates that they're looking to attract. It is just to me, such a low, you know, an easy opportunity for them to go after. And I think it'll depend on the industry. It'll depend on the product, it'll depend on the company, in terms of what those targeted audiences will be.

Joel (25m 46s):

And then my last question is, do you feel like there's any fear of, I guess, diversity fatigue in terms of recruiting? In other words, what, I mean, at what point do we draw a line of what's diverse and what isn't? One of the things that I've heard discussed, you know, at some point was, is obesity, diversity, should you have people that are overweight in your representation? Do we get to a point where it becomes too much? And if we do what happens at that point?

Rachel (26m 12s):

It's an interesting question. I feel like we're a ways away from fatigue at this point. I mean, I think that's a great question to revisit. I think, again, the report and everything we're trying to move is just get companies moving. Let's get to fatigue, let's cross the fatigue bridge when we get to it. But I think we've hopefully in this conversation established that a lot of companies are not there, are not nearly at the fatigue level yet. So we just want to get them in the conversation.

Joel (26m 36s):

When we get to fatigue we've won. Is that what we're saying?

Rachel (26m 38s):

Yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think we've got a ways away before we, I don't even think we're out of breath yet. I don't think we're out of breath. We're definitely not at fatigue.

Chad (26m 47s):

Yes. Well, I tell you why I'm definitely not at fatigue after seeing these damn numbers for goodness sakes. I appreciate you, Rachel. This is Rachel Orston, Chief Customer Officer over at Smart Recruiters. Rachel, if people want to check out the diversity hiring report, where should they go and what other kind of toolkits or whatnot could they find with Smart Recruiters?

Rachel (27m 9s):

I'll make it easy. Just go to and you'll see the link to the toolkit. It's pretty prominent where we're promoting it. And we encourage people to download and read it and explore the toolkit as well. And we also have a Hiring Success Business Assessment. And by the way, you could still take the diversity assessment as well. So you'll find all of that access on our website, both the diversity inclusion assessment, as well as our Hiring Success Business Assessment. Those are free assessments, and they can be taken online at So thank you. And thank you guys for digging into this report. These were great questions and appreciate you bringing me on.

Joel (27m 48s):

You're welcome

Chad (27m 47s):

Love having you. Thanks so much. Keep, keep, keep at this! Because we need to know the real truth, not just the fluff that we hear in press releases and the TV commercials and all that other fun stuff. So thank you. And thank the crew over at Smart Recruiters for us.

Joel (27m 57s):

Thanks, Rachel. Chad another one in the books!

Chad and Joel (28m 2s):

We out.

OUTRO (28m 56s):

Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.


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