In the age of fake news, bought five-star reviews and paid-for influencer endorsement deals, personal, employee-generated content (a form of social proof) that demonstrates legitimacy and builds trust is essential.
In today's world, social proof is transformative, particularly when it comes to a diversity recruiting strategy. By communicating diversity stories in the workplace, companies gain a competitive edge and diverse talent will view them as authentic, transparent and persuasive.
Indeed, social proof is overwhelmingly important: 90% of people read online reviews before choosing a product or service1. Fortunately, the variety of social proof companies have at their disposal is impressive: everything from thought leadership articles and opinion articles, to online reviews and case studies can be used as forms of social proof.
As companies continue to build trust through social proof, the diverse talent they attract will become advocates and ambassadors for their brand, furthering the cause of diversity.
Subsequently, due to its ability to attract diverse talent, social proof is increasingly deployed by HR teams to revamp diversity recruiting strategies, specifically through diversity stories in the workplace.
But how is social proof winning the battle for diverse talent?
We put the above question to talent attraction and employee branding leaders at Citi, Santander and the NHS, asking them how HR leaders achieve diversity in recruitment, and asked several diverse candidates to share their thoughts on the power of social proof.
When Knowledge of Diverse Talent Is Not Enough
The benefits of diversity recruitment have been well documented (see our previous blog on a stellar diversity recruiting strategy), but what better way to drive home the point than to hear it from Sam Hamdieh, Talent Brand Manager, at Santander?
It’s not enough to just be aware of just how diverse the talent pool is. As Rob Farace, Senior Programme Lead at the NHS, explains in the video below, the candidate market is saturated with companies vying for diverse candidates’ attention. For the NHS, the competition for chasing diverse talent is well-established, and becoming increasingly fierce in the climate of a candidate-driven market:
Diverse Talent is Receptive to Social Proof
So how does social proof fit into the challenge of diversity recruitment?
There’s no doubt that the careers site offers some form of proof – after all, 60% of candidates navigate to the careers site to determine whether a company delivers on its diversity recruiting strategy – but make no mistake, candidates want more. They don’t just want objective proof offered by the curated content on a careers site – they want social proof.
Diverse candidates’ quest for social proof extends to places your career site cannot reach: 34% consult review websites, 32% consult social media posts, groups and networks and 23% visit your campus fair and events.
This seeking of social proof is becoming common practice, particularly as the talent pool is now largely comprised of Millennials and Gen Z.
Growing up in the era of social networks and digital media, these digitally savvy cohorts expect to consume forms of social proof by default.
In the video below, Jamie Michel, a student studying Computer Science, explains exactly why these forms of social proof meaningfully signal a company’s commitment to diversity to him:
For HR leaders, the stars align; social proof + active reception of diverse talent = lucrative opportunity for diverse talent acquisition… and conversion.
Want to find out what your candidates want to hear from you? Download our eBook on Diversity Recruiting now
Weaving Storytelling into Social Proof
Cold, hard numbers are compelling. According to our survey of 1000 PathMotion candidates, 33% said that statistics about representation (i.e. demographic breakdown) are an indicator that a company genuinely cares about diversity.
But the most popular indicator by far is authentic content delivered by your diverse workforce. From our survey, 54% of candidates believe that real-life stories and experiences from a company’s employees show that a company genuinely cares about diversity and inclusion. Take it from one of our candidates, Siham Abdullahi, who explains the advantage that real-life stories have:
Storytelling is the companion of social proof.
From testimonials and Glassdoor reviews to casual conversations at recruitment fairs, diverse candidates have a variety of social proof at their disposal.
Yet these forms of social proof are united by a common theme: the ability to convey relatable, personal storytelling to frame the context of fair policies.
Social proof is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to diversity recruitment. For an in-depth review of the challenges and best practices, check out our comprehensive guide.
But why are these stories so important?
Whilst statistics play a part in providing quantitative measures of social proof, they lack the personal touch attained by broadcasting real employee stories that also persuasively communicate your organisation’s values, goals, and mission.
For instance, The Boston Consulting Group report that whilst nearly 100% of employers surveyed state that they have a diversity recruiting programme in place, only 25% of employees believe they have benefitted. Which could mean that the next time they’re in the job market, basic stats will do little to assure them that your company has a vested interest in diversity. Instead, the most compelling proof will be stories from your employees that have benefitted from the programmes you have in place.
Similarly, the propagation of a corporate image, for example, leaves companies in the finance sector unable to differentiate themselves. This means candidates of diverse backgrounds are automatically inclined to believe that they will not fit within the company culture and will not apply.
However, the application of social proof in the way of authentic diversity stories in the workplace is a tool to escape this pitfall and demonstrate what your workplace is like. Watch the video below to see how Santander are ensuring they distinguish themselves within the corporate sector:
Pair Storytelling & Social Proof to Deliver Specificity
Through our analysis of over 25,000 questions focused on diversity inclusion on the PathMotion platform, across the UK, US, and France, we discovered another diverse candidate demand: granular responses are highly sought after.
The (social) proof is in the pudding; candidates want specific answers to specific questions – pertinent to their group. This is where diversity stories in the workplace come in.
Take Nathalie Kantaris Diaz, a Film Studies student, in the video below. For her to be convinced, she wants companies to go beyond showcasing female representation. She wants to see companies that understand the specific issues related to progression, and she wants answers to the issues that plague the realities of being a woman in the workplace – from maternity leave to the gender pay gap:
'Employee storytelling is really important to us. It’s the only way we can really differentiate ourselves from our competitors.’
These are the words of Emma Britton, Graduate Recruitment Marketing Manager at Citi. In the video below, she explains how Citi is prioritising diverse talent in particular and offering them the opportunity to connect with representative employees to understand the challenges they face when it comes to hiring:
Scaling Social Proof in Practice
Clearly, diversity stories in the workplace are one of the most compelling ways to sell your employer brand. Traditionally delivered by way of video testimonials, companies are limiting the potential they hold. In recognising that social proof exists in real-time, companies can overhaul their approach to diversity recruiting. Seeing is believing – and the delivery of authentic personal stories via first-hand interactions between the diverse workforce and candidates couldn't be more compelling. Take it from Samuel Akinwumi, a Chemical Engineering student, who describes his experience when walking into a workplace:
But the dissemination of employee stories in the workplace needn’t stop at the level of in-person visibility. The existing advocacy programmes you already have in place are scalable; online discussions that connect diverse candidates to your diverse workforce in real-time, all the time, provide an accessible and prolific source of social proof.
Evidently, producing and sharing a plethora of social proof through social networks will help build a foundation for limitless word-of-mouth advocacy.
Social proof generates the social capital your company needs to differentiate itself. It is the tool in your recruiting arsenal. Ultimately, granular content in the form of stories is the silver bullet in the quest for the ultimate social proof practice.
Of course, the burden of social proof lies firmly with the employer. With many companies failing to invest in collecting it, there’s a golden opportunity for you to get ahead of the competition and acquire diverse talent.
But where do you start?
Our eBook – Diversity Recruiting: What’s on Candidates’ Minds? – outlines how your organisation can supercharge its social proof. In it, we provide three concrete ways to develop your existing social proof that combines its inherent psychological persuasion with authentic diversity stories.
If we’ve played our cards right, the social proof littered across this article should have succeeded in directing you to our eBook. If not, you can download it below. Just select the version you need.
Learn more about how PathMotion facilitates the creation of scalable social proof:
We are a white-labelled discussion platform that enables candidates to directly connect with employees to answer specific questions in real-time, all the time. Our software facilitates:
‘Always-on’ group questions and answers.
And most importantly, we can scale your employee advocacy through seamless integration with other key touchpoints such as the career’s site and Facebook.
We’ve helped companies like Citi and Deloitte, as well as public bodies like the National Health Service, to increase their qualified applications by over 200% and improve the acceptance rate of 65% of their hires.