Diversity employee referral programs are on the rise — and for good reason! Studies show that new hires who are referred are:

  • a better fit
  • more engaged at work
  • less likely to quit
  • more productive

We all know employee referrals work. It turns out they work for diversity too (Pinterest women up 24%!). But you might need to make some tweaks — Intel doubled its referral bonus to $4K. Accenture bonuses go up to $7k!

As the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce grows, companies are turning to employee referral programs emphasizing diverse referrals to broaden their talent pool AND gain new insights to help the company grow. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee referral programs account for 25% of all hires.

Diversity employee referral programs, or “diverse referrals,” are incentives from employers to employees who refer qualified and diverse candidates. Here are 3 examples of companies using them:


#1. Pinterest diverse referral program

Pinterest took a simple approach to diversify its workforce: rely on diverse referrals from current employees. This straightforward strategy paid off, and after six weeks, they saw a 24% increase in female referrals.

The company created an open dialogue with employees about why diversity is essential. This conversation allowed the company to keep employee referrals a top priority for all because it wasn’t merely a “we really need to hire more people” approach, but a mission with a deeper meaning: increasing diversity to improve company culture and performance — something that is everybody’s responsibility. 

To help guarantee more diversity in Pinterest’s employee referral program, the company was candid with its employees and challenged them to refer candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. It worked. In addition to the 24%t increase in female referrals, Pinterest saw a 55x increase in the percentage of referred candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. 


#2. Intel diversity referrals program

Intel took a bold approach to diversify its workforce by making diversity one of the strategic performance goals that determine 50% of an executive’s annual cash incentives. To encourage diverse referrals, Intel doubled its referral bonus for staff referring diverse candidates.

If an Intel employee refers a woman, minority, or veteran, and the diverse referral gets hired, the referring employee gets $4,000 — double the standard referral bonus. The company views the bonus fee to boost the representation of women and minorities in a talent pool that is disproportionally made up of white males.


#3. Accenture diversity referral program

Accenture recruits and embraces employees who bring a fresh perspective and approach to problem-solving. Their diversity employee referral program helps them achieve their goals of a diverse and inclusive workforce. The program’s bonuses range from $2,000 to $7,000 — and sometimes even more. The Accenture diversity and inclusion referral program offers a referral website allowing employees to suggest candidates for specific openings or make general referrals.

The company’s definition of ‘diverse’ is expansive and goes much further than ethnic and racial backgrounds to include people of different religions and faiths, education levels, and backgrounds, such as single parents, first-generation immigrants and college students, and much more.


Why I Wrote This?

An inclusive job description is key if you want to diversify your workplace. If your job descriptions are not inclusive, it won’t matter how many diverse referrals you get. Ongig has tools and resources to help you ace JDs to help you hire diverse candidates. Request a free demo today to learn more.



  1. 13 Ways To Seek Out More Diverse Candidates For Critical Positions (by Forbes Coaches Council)
  2. Leveraging & Rewarding Employee Referrals (by Diversity Best Practices)
  3. Expanding Employee Referral Networks Increases Competitive Advantage (by Roy Maurer)
  4. Build a Stronger Employee Referral Program (by Kate Gautier and Lalith Munasinghe)
  5. The Simple Way Pinterest is Becoming More Diverse: They Challenged Their Employees (By LinkedIn)
  6. Quinn: Pinterest’s diversity experiments (by Michelle Quinn)
  7. Intel ups referral bonus to achieve more diversity in its workforce (by Don Reisinger)
  8. Bank of America Diversity Inclusion Networks

by in Diversity and Inclusion