How to Establish a More Diverse Warehouse Workforce

Managers of warehouses should jump into the 21st century by learning how to recruit, develop and retain a more diverse workforce.

Hiring for diversity has made a positive impact on a wide variety of industries. The more diverse a workforce, the more varied input from professionals that offer different perspectives. According to a report released by McKinsey, companies that promote gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to outperform their competitors. The same report states companies that promote ethnic diversity are 36 percent more likely to outdo the competition.

If it is well-documented that promoting diversity in the workplace helps a company perform better financially, then why do a few industries fall behind in hiring for diversity? One industry that needs a boost in diversity is the warehouse industry.

In the past, warehouse staffing has involved searching for candidates that can handle the physical demands of a warehouse job. This meant that many warehouse sourcing efforts focused on males to fill open positions. However, the warehouse industry has dramatically changed because of technology. Many of the new positions require more technical skills than physical ability, allowing for a more diverse workforce.

Let’s see how you can start hiring for diversity by learning how to recruit warehouse workers like a pro.

Conduct a Review of Your Job Descriptions

Do your warehouse job ads convert the right candidates? If your goal is hiring for diversity, then the answer is probably no.

One of the most effective strategies to hire a more diverse warehouse team involves writing job descriptions that attract the interest of qualified women and minorities. Your current job descriptions might target a specific demographic by using language such as “physically demanding” and “must be able to lift at least 50 pounds.”

Broaden your demographic reach by eliminating language that exclusively targets the male demographic.

Expand Your Sources for Talent

If you refer to sources that cater to blue-collar recruiting, then you can expect to attract a single demographic. A great strategy to attract job candidates that come from different demographic backgrounds involves expanding the number of sources you use for recruitment. For example, maybe you can find candidates from an online forum devoted to women that work in the technology industry. Running a warehouse requires a team of logistics specialists to ensure goods move in and out when they should.

Candidate sourcing for diversity requires you to move out of your comfort zone and find new places where professionals from other demographic groups congregate.

Target Demographic Groups with Internships

One of the reasons why your hiring for diversity program fails is because you have not targeted warehouse professionals by offering internships. Targeting certain demographic groups by providing internships attracts talent at the ground level that builds their careers with your company. Internships give workers the opportunity to see your company’s most attractive features, such as promotions from within and access to a retirement plan.

Create a list of educational institutions in your area that are well-represented by the demographic groups your company should target.

Encourage Diversity Through Referrals

Changing the face of the warehouse workforce can go much faster if you lean on your team to refer diverse job candidates. Many companies across every business sector reward employees with bonuses and/or gift cards for referring job candidates that end up staying with a company for a certain period. When you launch an employee referral program with a targeted demographic approach, you increase the likelihood your company will enjoy candidate sourcing from a diverse pool of talent.

Take Your Brand on the Road

Participating in special events that focus on diversity can help your company improve its hiring for diversity program. This can include setting up a booth for a career day put on by a local African American college, for example. When your company branches out from its home base for diverse warehouse staffing, you should develop a reputation for being a brand that values hiring for diversity.

Implement Policies that Appeal to Diverse Job Candidates

Your company can initiate groundbreaking initiatives to attract a more diverse warehouse workforce. However, all the focus on candidate sourcing for diverse job applicants goes out the window if your company policies do not promote diversity in the workplace. It is one thing to boast about your company’s diverse warehouse staffing; it is quite another thing to create policies that dampen your diversity initiatives.

Encourage your team members to speak up if they feel certain company policies inhibit the recruitment of a diverse workforce. Elevating the employee experience includes getting your team members involved in the company’s hiring for diversity program.

Remove Screening and Interview Bias

An important technique for warehouse staffing involves removing bias from the screening and interview processes. This means you black out the personal information listed on resumes. Information such as schools, locations, and date of birth can produce a bias when your screen job candidates.

Blind interviews represent another popular strategy to remove inherent bias. Send job candidates questions via email and/or text to remove the bias generated by a face-to-face interview. Ask neutral questions that allow you to discover the professional knowledge and experience accumulated by every job candidate.

The Bottom Line

Hiring for diversity is relevant for all professional roles, but it has special meaning for companies that operate warehouses. Blue-collar roles typically skew heavily toward males. Nonetheless, the rapidly changing business model for the warehouse industry has made it a career that is suitable for women as well. Although it can be difficult to accomplish, targeting diverse workers produces several benefits for your company.

An article published in the Harvard Business Review reported employees who feel they can “bring their whole selves to work” are 42 percent less likely to quit a job over the next year. Unlocking the inner self includes encouraging employees to share unique experiences from their demographic backgrounds.

Hiring for diversity is beneficial for your employees, customers and purveyors. For far too long, physically demanding industries such as warehouses have received a pass when it came to recruiting and attracting diverse workforces. As we approach 2022, warehouses have the tools to make warehouse staffing a process that recruits diverse job candidates.