sourcing underrepresented talent
source: Photo by Mapbox on Unsplash

Diversity is a key tenet for companies in a world that demands it. There are many benefits of a diverse workforce, from improving team relationships to encouraging innovation and improving decision-making.

But despite the benefits of a diverse workforce, companies still struggle to source and retain diverse talent. For example, in the U.S. tech industry, only 4.4% of software engineers are Black. And only 22% are women.

To ensure you sourcing underrepresented talent, try different strategies to find what works for you. In this post, we’ll share 8 tips to help you source diverse talent.

Let’s dive in.

Sourcing Underrepresented Talent

1. Expand your sourcing net

Go to the places your underrepresented talent groups are in the majority. Along with contacting schools like Latinx-Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), search for organizations that work to support the diverse groups you want to reach.

Here are some examples:

  • Noirefy: A platform that connects diverse talent and corporations for career opportunities.
  • Women who code: The largest community that helps women in tech.
  • Jopwell: A platform that empowers underrepresented students and professionals to successfully advance in their careers.
  • Out & Equal: A global non-profit organization that aims to achieve workplace equality.
  • National Association of Black Accountants: An organization dedicated to helping Black professionals in finance, accounting, and related business professions.
  • Association of Latino Professionals for America: ALPFA empowers Latino men and women as leaders and prepares them for the global work economy.

After searching some of the above organizations:

  • go to Linkedin and look for more groups related to them
  • advertise your job openings on diversity job boards
  • partner with local universities and colleges to find potential diverse employees
  • create relationships with associations in your industry that work to empower historically marginalized members

2. Use inclusive language in your job posts

The language you use in your job posts encourages or discourages prospective diverse candidates from applying. Inclusive language is key to sourcing more underrepresented talent from a broad range of backgrounds. 

Examine your job descriptions to know if they target a specific demographic, then assess ways to change the language to include more prospective candidates from a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds.

For example, a report from Linkedin shows that women apply for 20% fewer jobs than men because they feel they need to be 100% qualified. If your diversity goal is to recruit more women employees, adjust your job ad language to make them more appealing to women.

To ensure the language in your job description is free from bias, use a tool like Ongig’s Text Analyzer to help you write bias-free job descriptions. The tool can detect biases like disability, gender, LGBTQ+, race, and ethnicity bias that can prevent diverse candidates from applying.

ongig bias scanner

3. Create a specific candidate persona

Diverse sourcing relies on intentional techniques, not blind hiring strategies. The key to knowing how to source underrepresented talent depends on you and your hiring team’s ability to empathize with diverse candidates’ needs. 

Aim to understand their priorities, preferences, and needs — and use those insights to build candidate personas.

Build a persona for different types of candidates with distinct backgrounds for key roles. Include details about what your candidates need from their ideal employer (including benefits), the recruiting process, the type of communication they want, career growth, and any other details to help you identify and connect with more underrepresented groups.

And, while creating your profile, be clear on the areas where you’re lacking diversity and put your sourcing efforts there. For example, saying, “We need to increase diversity in our design team,” is broad for a candidate persona. Instead, say, “We’re underrepresented for LGBTQ+ employees in our design team.”

Through the lens of the second statement, you’ll likely ask yourself, “Where does a designer who identifies as LQBTQ+ feel supported while networking.” And that will lead you to search for organizations that support LGBTQ+ talent at work. This strategy will make it easy for you to source for that specific underrepresented group.

4. Build a diverse interview panel

A diverse interview panel ensures your underrepresented candidates feel comfortable during the interview process by seeing people who look like them. It ensures that you get different perspectives about the candidates. And according to a Greenhouse survey, 68% of candidates believe that a diverse interview panel is important for better talent acquisition outcomes.

To build an effective diverse interview panel, follow these steps:

  • Set up the panel for success by defining their specific individual roles. For example, panelist A can assess the candidates’ skills, and panelist B can assess the candidate’s ability to work with a team.
  • Ensure there’s inclusivity by considering the race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, and disability of the interviewers.
  • Add willing employees as interviewers and train them on how to conduct interviews.
  • Then collect feedback from your candidates to measure the success of your diverse interview panels.
  • From the feedback, evaluate where you can improve.

This step will help you source and hire qualified diverse candidates with ease.

5. Equip managers with skills to source candidates

Hiring managers don’t have to do the sourcing alone. Let other leaders from different departments learn about your sourcing initiatives for underrepresented groups. And tell them how to reach out to potential diverse candidates.

For example, if a manager from your organization’s design department is at a conference, they may mention to someone they meet that they’re looking to add more Black or Latinx women to their team. This may encourage someone at the conference to apply or share your role with someone they know.

This also sends the message that your company values diversity and inclusion. And employees are currently looking to work for companies that value diversity, this will make your sourcing efforts easier.

And you should assume managers don’t know the right language to use, so train them on what is most inclusive. For example, teach them not to use words like strong, competitive, and ambitious because they may keep female candidates from applying.

6. Ask for referrals from your ERGs (employee resource groups)

Before you start sourcing outside, consider how you can get help from the talent in your organization. Employee referrals are a powerful way to source potential underrepresented talent.

And the best employees to get referrals for diverse talent are those from employee resource groups (ERGs) in your organization. To get the ideal referrals from ERGs, do this:

  • Start by attending some ERG activities, for example, their lunch activities and team-building sessions. This will help you create a sincere relationship with the members.
  • Tell the members about your diversity goals and what you want to achieve at the end of the year.
  • Be specific with them about the departments you want to fill. For example, you can say, “We want to hire more Black and Latino women for our engineering team.”
  • Let them know you’re welcome to referrals from them. You can even offer referral bonuses.

By leveraging the power of ERGs, you can also find events and conferences where the underrepresented groups hang out a lot.

7. Train recruiters on unconscious bias

Sourcing underrepresented candidates isn’t enough, you need to know how many of them are passing through the interview stage. One factor that can lead to diverse candidates not being hired is the unconscious bias of recruiters. 

A  2018 Linkedin study on recruiters found that 42% of hiring managers felt that interviewer bias was a big problem in efficient hiring. This means you have to be intentional and thoughtful to know how to handle interviewer bias.

There are many strategies you can use to reduce interviewer bias like:

  • Offer interviewer training so your recruiters are aware of the different types of unconscious bias.
  • Use an interview guide as a tool for how your organization does interviews.
  • De-personalize your applicants’ resumes by removing personal information about them like the school they went to, their full names, email, race, ethnicity, gender, and nationality.
  • Teach your recruiters to reduce niceties during the interview. This is because personal questions during the interview may bring “stereotype or similar-to-me bias”.

By using the above strategies, you’ll be sure your interviewers know how to identify and prevent their unconscious bias.

8. Enable remote work

Depending on the location of your company, you may not have access to diverse talent. Moreover, requiring your candidates to reside in a specific geographical region and report to the office daily can prevent well-qualified underrepresented candidates from applying for your job.

For example, in San Francisco, only 5.2% of the population is Black, compared to 13.4% of the United States population as a whole.

Opening up your company to remote work will allow you access to a large pool of diverse candidates from more backgrounds. This allows you to get a lot of underrepresented talent that you would have never found in your local area.

Plus, this allows you to support working parents who may need flexibility in their workdays. And also give a chance to employees with disabilities to work from home without having to deal with the stress of commuting from home to the office.


Ongig’s mission is to support your commitment to writing inclusive job descriptions with our Text Analyzer software. Please book a demo today to learn how you can find and remove bias from your hiring process.


  1. 20 Benefits of Having a Diverse Workforce (by Indeed)
  2. Types of Interviewing Bias and How to Minimize them (by Indeed)
  3. Software Engineer Demographics and Statistics in the US (by Zippia)
  4. Candidate Interview and Employer Brand Report (by Greenhouse)
  5. New Report: Women Apply to Fewer Jobs than Men but are likely to get Hired (by Linkedin)
  6. How Candidate Personas Should Shape Recruiting Conversations (by Brazen)
  7. What are Employee Resource Groups? (by Greate Place To Work)
  8. The 4 Trends Changing how you Hire in 2018 and Beyond (by Linkedin)
  9. Quick Facts, San Francisco City, California; United States (by U.S Census)

by in Diversity and Inclusion