Representative Recruitment

How do we measure Representative Population Recruiting?

We know by now that even with the best intentions, diversity doesn’t just spontaneously happen. It requires a concerted effort on the part of the hiring organization, with buy-in from recruiters up to executive leadership. Even then, seeing an increase takes time, money and patience. So with diversity and inclusion (D&I) at the forefront of many recruiting conversations, it’s no surprise that the idea of representative population is starting to take hold. If you’re unfamiliar, the goal of representative population recruiting (RPR) is to hire employee populations that reflect a larger sample.

Inextricably linked, RPR has the potential to upend diversity initiatives, and offer support to organizations operating in notoriously homogenous industries (think tech, law enforcement and finance). But as recruiters figure out next steps and try to enact RPR, some challenging questions arise. Questions that need answers in order to make the business case stick. Here’s what some of those look like:

What does RPR look like? What’s the end goal?

There are several ways to approach RPR. For a small or medium sized business, with offices in a single location, they might strive to mirror the local population on a city, county or state level. For enterprise organizations, even those with global operations, RPR might be better broken down by country or possibly region.  Intel chose to follow this second line of thinking, delivering on its goal of full representation in the company’s U.S. workforce at the end of 2018. That means the employee breakdown at Intel now closely mirrors the percent of women and underrepresented minorities available in the U.S. skilled labor market. You might also consider replicating your customer base. Whatever feels most authentic to your organization, corporate culture and employer brand.

How do we measure success?

To start, look at the data. Before implementing RPR, dig into your current workforce numbers by race and gender. Many Fortune 100 companies make their D&I numbers publicly available and readily downloadable at their websites. For instance, Google shared its 2018 numbers, offering a look at its workforce composition across six racial or ethnic groups and two gender categories. You can also view the information by workforce representation or broken down by tech, non-tech and leadership roles. While this doesn’t necessarily equate to success, it does provide a jumping off point for creating that definition for your individual organization.

If we’re failing, how do we adapt?

This is where things get tricky. We often hear about D&I failures, and unfortunately, it does happen – even to Fortune 100 companies with huge talent acquisition teams and massive budgets. Because the thing is, recruiting, like the people we seek to represent, is dynamic – and it needs to be. Using the same techniques and technologies won’t help move the needle when we’re unwilling to admit recruiting should evolve to meet the population. Diversified thinking is the fastest way to diversity within your organization, so if you start to fall behind, adjust your overall thinking, from training to recruiting.  

If we’re succeeding, how do we keep up?

Well, first off, congratulations. Now don’t freak out and self-sabotage. Instead, spend a little time figuring out what made the difference, where and how. Did you improve sourcing and diversify your general applicant pool? Did you win across the board or only at a certain level? Were you more effective in one department over another? Even the slightest variation in strategy can add up to significant differences in RPR. This is why enterprise organizations publish their annual reports. It requires that they pause and measure their gains (and losses). Accountability works, and chances are, even if you’re ahead of the game, there’s plenty you can learn along the way.

Do we need to worry about the law of diminishing returns?

This is a big one for many talent acquisition pros, trying to draw a correlation from their spend to the organization’s bottom line. Usually, the law of diminishing returns applies more to production factors, but it has very real implications for recruiting, too. And it’s true, part of the reason we see RPR taking off has to do with budgets and how much the organization is willing to front. In these instances, it may be wise to err on the side of caution and take smaller steps toward RPR, setting goals that are both feasible and impactful at the same time. This could mean emphasizing gender equality in tech roles and racial diversity in non-tech, with subsequent plans to switch it up in the future.

If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that D&I should be a business priority. As part of that, RPR can help recruiters get to that next level, providing actionable, measurable goals to lead the organization forward.


Imo is the VP of Strategic Partnerships at OutMatch. Prior to OutMatch, Imo co-founded and served as CEO of Wepow, a popular video interview solution that is now part of the OutMatch Talent Platform. Imo’s work in the HR tech and Talent Acquisition space is driven by his passion to help organizations connect with talent.