01/31/2013 10:47 am ET Updated Apr 02, 2013

4 Tips to Hire a More Diverse Workforce

Four years ago on January 29th, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This was the first bill signed into law during Obama's presidency, signed shortly after he took office in 2009. The Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing the previously held 180 days statute of limitations for filing equal pay lawsuits to reset with each new paycheck.

What does this mean exactly? The old law stated employees must file a claim within 180 days of the unfair payment policy being put into action. This ignored the fact many employees might not even discover the unfair difference in payment until much later. The Lilly Ledbetter Act allows employees receiving unfair pay to file their claims as long as they continue to be paid less than their similarly qualified co-workers.

This is certainly what happened with Lilly Ledbetter, the standard bearer of this act. Ledbetter was a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant, where she worked as an area manager. Despite the fact that she worked from 1979 to 1997, Ledbetter watched as men with the same title made substantially more than she did. As the only female area manager, Ledbetter was making $3,727 each month, while the lowest paid male with the same job title was making substantially more at $4,286. Ledbetter had hit the glass ceiling.

The glass ceiling is unfortunately still a reality despite the huge strides women have made in the workplace. In 2012, the Fortune 500 made history with a record-setting 18 firms helmed by female CEOS. This is especially impressive considering just seven firms were headed up by female CEOs ten years ago in 2002.

However, women still hold only 4.2 percent of all Fortune 500 CEO positions. In addition, one in 10 Fortune 500 companies have exactly zero women members sitting on their boards. Although women have made huge strides, there's clearly still much farther to go.

Hiring a diverse staff is one of the best ways to bring fresh concepts and new ideas into your company. It's a great way to keep from indulging in groupthink and make sure you're hiring the best people.

So here are some tips to help you hire a more diverse workplace and bring in the best talent for your organization:

Know what discrimination is... and what it isn't
It's important to know the regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to ensure your company is staying compliant. The EEOC has plenty of valuable information and guidelines which can help you better understand what hiring discrimination looks like in order to guard against discriminatory practices. Don't assume discrimination can't happen at your company. The best way to guard against hiring discrimination is to be informed.

It's just as important, however, to understand what are not discriminatory hiring practices. After all, in today's tough labor market you don't want to cut out useful tools that can help you snap up the best people before your competitors. For instance, using online video in the hiring process is 100 percent compliant with all EEOC regulations and can really save you both time and money. Knowing what isn't a discriminatory policy can be just as important as knowing what is.

Focus on skills and qualifications
Before starting the hiring process, you should know exactly what skills your ideal candidate should possess. This way you can focus on tangible and measurable aspects of the candidate, like their ability to perform the skills necessary for the job. If you focus on measurable attributes, you'll be less likely to let gut feelings or subconscious prejudices sway a hiring decision.

Standardize your hiring process
A good way to prevent discriminatory hiring practices is to standardize your hiring process. Brainstorm a set list of questions to ask candidates and then make sure you ask every candidate the same questions. It's also a good idea to take notes on each candidate's answers. This way, you can weight the answers against each other to remove any chance of a biased result.

Don't be a hiring lone wolf
We all have subconscious prejudices we might not even be aware of. By involving your hiring team or even specific department heads, you can reduce the chances an unconscious bias in one individual will dramatically sway a hiring decision. When it comes to hiring, working together as a team and sharing feedback can be essential for avoiding discriminatory practices.

Hiring great workers often means hiring a diverse staff of talented people. Using these tips, you can ensure your company is compliant with all EEOC guidelines while still hiring the very best. Shattering the glass ceiling can be as simple as being more mindful of your company's hiring practices.

What are some ways your company avoids discrimination in the hiring process? Share in the comments!

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.