Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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Hiring quotas have been used to make a noticeable impact on diversity goals. Read on to learn more about hiring quotas and how they help accomplish diversity goals.

What Are Hiring Quotas?

Hiring quotas are a method for establishing quantitative data and action points for hiring diverse candidates. Hiring quotas attempt to increase the representation of historically marginalized or under-represented groups. The function or underlying concept behind hiring quotas is an attempt to add transparency to efforts around hiring for diversity. Hiring quotas are designed to take a commitment and actionize it.

Should Companies Use Hiring Quotas?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are some of the hottest corporate buzzwords and many organizations are looking for ways to take action to increase diversity. Creating hiring quotas can be a useful tool for accountability within diversity hiring efforts, but there are also criticisms of this method.

Defining specific hiring quotas may not be expressly illegal, but they are legally risky and can open up an organization to the risk of a lawsuit. Title VII is one of the quintessential laws defining employment rights. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Therefore, even though an organization’s goal to hire more diverse candidates may be well-intended, if that quota creates a disparate impact against other protected classes (even if those people are a majority group), that could still potentially violate Title VII.

Cons of Hiring Quotas

Hiring quotas have a noble intent, but can become entrenched in outcomes over process-related issues.

  • Fake interviews. Wells Fargo was recently involved in a scandal when their diversity and inclusion hiring goals backfired. It’s alleged that in order to meet diverse candidate interview quotas, meaningless and fake interviews were conducted to inflate their numbers.
  • Disparate impact. Disparate impact is when a hiring practice appears to be non-discriminatory but is actually causing a disproportionate negative impact to a protected group. Hiring quotas attempt to fix the disparate impact that occurs when there are no specific measures to ensure diversity. Even though hiring quotas are used to reverse the disparate impact of many hiring practices, implementing them can cause its own disparate impact, making them a problematic solution.
  • Less qualified hires. When implementing diversity quotas, candidates are hired partly based on the diversity quota, not the fit and credentials of the candidate. In some instances, more qualified candidates are passed on to make a hire that will meet the diversity quota. It should not be the goal of an organization to hire for diversity at the expense of bringing in the best and most qualified person for the job.
  • Missing the mark. The goal of diversity is to give voice to as many unique groups as possible while ensuring that no one is left out or excluded. The goal of hiring diverse candidates is not math-based; it is people-based. A strict hiring quota misses the mark on the underlying reason for the quota.

Alternatives to Hiring Quotas

The goal of hiring quotas is to increase the number of diverse candidates within an organization. An organization should try to increase their diversity, which initially makes hiring quotas sound appealing. However, excluding candidates based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin can lead to illegal discrimination, even if those being excluded are white candidates. An organization should seek to hire the most qualified person for a role. Hiring a diverse candidate who is not the best fit for a role simply to meet a hiring quota is not a best practice.

The best practice is to hire diversity without quotas. You can build a recruiting process that creates meaningful and impactful change without quotas.

Interview Quotas

In 2003, the NFL coined and adopted the Rooney Rule. Instead of instituting a legally risky hiring quota, the Rooney Rule focused on getting diverse candidates into the talent funnel and interviewed for a role. The NFL also recently updated the Rooney rule to require that diverse candidates be considered for additional interviews beyond an initial interview.

Interview quotas can be a good tool for enriching your interview process with diverse candidates.

Incentivized Outcomes

The NFL under the Rooney Rule incentivises diversity hiring. In certain circumstances, a team may get additional draft picks based on diverse candidates in specific roles. This rule incentivizes an organization that fosters diversity growth from within. Incentivizing diversity hiring is another way that an organization can achieve meaningful outcomes without implementing hiring quotas.

Hiring Goals

Hiring quotas require mandated outcomes and establishing mandated outcomes leads to means and methods that disregard best practices. Hiring goals establish desired targets and allow much more flexibility and strategy to achieve the goal, often using strategic best practices that follow Title VII and other hiring laws. This brings in the most qualified hires and increases diversity.

Promoting From Within

It is possible that the leadership role you are trying to fill in your organization is already working for you. You may not have someone qualified or with the right experience to fill the role right now, but now is the perfect time to start succession and workforce planning. You can develop internal programs to start training and developing your current talent, specifically taking measures to make sure diverse candidates have access and incentive to join. Start to prepare your own diverse hires internally.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Hiring Quotas

The Supreme Court has ruled that fixed hiring quotas are unconstitutional. This ruling may not apply to every situation in every organization, but it does make hiring quotas legally risky and hard to implement without potential legal exposure. Instead of imposed hiring quotas, many institutions and organizations under the guidelines of Title VII create hiring goals with desired outcomes.
Affirmative action is not an imposed hiring quota. Affirmative action establishes reasonable and achievable hiring goals for increasing diversity outcomes. In most cases, hiring quotas are only implemented under judicial order. Under Title VII, it is unlawful to base hiring decisions wholly on the basis of a protected status. Affirmative action takes steps to ensure that hiring practices are free of discrimation and disparate impact.
While the difference may only be a nuance, there is certainly a difference. The difference boils down to intention and operation. Hiring quotas are rigid and inflexible and require a specific outcome without taking into account the method used to achieve the outcome. Hiring goals are designed to create realistic and achievable outcomes based on hiring practices that are equitable and free of discrimination. Both practices aim to increase diversity but hiring goals achieve this through efforts that seek to remain fair and unbiased.

Tyler empowers Talent Acquisition professionals, HR business leaders, and key stake holders to develop and execute talent management strategies. He is igniting the talent acquisition process through: team building, accurate time to fill forecasting, driving creative talent sourcing, and fine-tuning recruiting team effectiveness.

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