This is going to be hard hitting on some people, but we need to stop relying on the words Diversity and Inclusion. Why? Because the modern institution of diversity and inclusion allows companies to pat themselves on the back for doing a few things, while allowing them to fall short on the promise they made to minority employees. Simply relying on D&I is limiting us on how we look at recruiting and retaining diverse talent. Although I firmly stand behind the values and meaning surrounding D&I, the institutions companies have created around D&I need to be redefined and expanded to the point where current definitions of diversity and inclusion are considered obsolete.
As an executive recruiter, I specialize in the area of diversity recruiting. However, my goal is for the candidates and clients we match to grow together through their career and business practices. What we've realized is that diversity initiatives alone may not be enough to ensure success. Companies may be able to attract multicultural talent, but when there is no real effort in transforming culture, D&I policies and initiatives that exist to make diverse voices feel valued and respected are bound to fail. Diverse employees will not be able to thrive within the company and will leave the company within a year or two at most. Whereas clients that actively promote, celebrate, and empower diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are where we see our clients and candidates thrive and grow together for years to come.
If the culture isn’t already inclusive, you’re not ready for diversity
When companies start seriously thinking about diversity and inclusion, it is typically an afterthought based on complaints by unhappy employees, or an exodus of minority employees. Even the name “Diversity and Inclusion” seems to imply that the order is diversity THEN inclusion. However, a design set up on securing vast amounts of diversity talent before establishing a culture of inclusivity is already designed to fail. Before companies seek to expand in hiring diverse mindsets, they should observe the diversity that already exists within the office and ensure that inclusive practices already exist within the workplace for current employees (ex: parents, age groups, gender). When the company then seeks to attract new forms of diversity, they can simply expand on those practice already in place and create new policies as needed rather than scrambling to create something from scratch.
‘Diversity first’ puts the burden on minorities to create inclusion
For many companies the reality of ‘diversity first’ has already hit and they are scrambling to create inclusion programs. Unfortunately, this is putting an undue burden on minority employees who have been tasked with either learning to adapt to a non-inclusive environment or with designing inclusion for themselves and others like them in the company. Both of these tasks require minority employees to take on responsibility above and beyond what their job calls for. This can have long lasting effects on their performance, efficiency, and longevity within the company.
D&I means nothing if the corporate system isn’t equitable
Equity within the workplace starts with understanding that there are underlying, and often unacknowledged, biases built within organizations that favor some groups of people over others. Furthermore, equity is acknowledging the role of systematic privilege in the success of some employees over other employees due to underlying biases. Therefore, equitable policies are those that help to bridge the gap between marginalized groups of employees while addressing and eliminating corporate bias by recognizing what was/is needed to be successful based on previous skills, tasks, or abilities. Equitable policies should seek to provide supplemental training for all employees who need to refresh their skills, diversify performance matrix by recognizing multiple forms of success, establish clear promotion tracks to eliminate bias in management, and establish pay brackets across management levels to eliminate wage gaps for similar work.
D&I shouldn’t be limited to a department in Human Resources
When many people think of diversity and inclusion they think it’s admirable, but it’s also not their problem. D&I has been reduced to a department out of HR rather than a movement within the company. In reality, DEI should be an ideology held by all members of the company that affects every business decision from hiring, to expanding a product line, to finalizing a marketing campaign. When D&I is siloed within HR, employees and hiring managers are able to brush it off as a responsibility that only exists for HR when they should be the ones at the forefront to create an inclusive and equitable environment for employees and colleagues.
Diversity is a movement, not a mandate
A movement serves as a force that revolutionizes the values and decision making process of a company, leaving no process untouched. Although hiring multicultural talent is beneficial toward improving diversity of thought, if companies do not take active steps to foster a multicultural movement then diverse thinkers will feel marginalized and excluded, stifling your employee’s ability to fully participate in the culture of the company. Therefore if companies want multicultural talent, they need to take the time and resources to ensure that multiculturalism is fully implemented into the vision and culture of the company to ensure the promise of diversity, inclusion, and equity is fulfilled.
The problem with modern D&I is that companies will stop at creating a D&I department thinking that is enough without changing company culture, practices, and values. The movement toward valuing diversity has to extend further than the work that has already been done in modern day D&I departments and needs to extend far past diversity and inclusion to ensure an equitable work place as well. Companies need to step away from the siloed D&I model in HR and begin transitioning a DEI corporate culture that transforms the values held within the company, within management, and within employees. It isn’t until we embrace the movement that is diversity and ensure the success of all voices that we can really begin to say that the American corporation has succeeded in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
You might be wondering why an Executive Recruiter is so hung up on the DEI issue, it is because we want our clients to thrive and they will thrive when they set themselves up for it by incorporating a successful DEI process in which the STAR Diverse Talent we recruit for them will shine and be able to bring all they have to the company including their diverse thought process, ideologies and new product ideas to serve other markets. This is only part of a 30 page guide which will be made available to prospective clients within the month on how to ensure DEI. If you would like to receive this guide the second it comes out, please sign up at www.dcaprosearch.com/diversity-guide-signup.html
Albert Einstein defines insanity as trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The same thing goes for your hiring practices. If you continue utilizing the same hiring process you will continue to hire the same type of employee. Hiring diverse employees has been a goal for most Fortune 500 companies. However, only a few have succeeded in truly diversifying their workforce and experiencing the benefits that diversity brings. If you want to attract diverse talent, the first thing you need to do is diversify your hiring practices.
1) Recruit in Diverse Places
This goes without saying, but if you want to attract multicultural candidates then recruit in places that attract multicultural professionals. This includes Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), diversity conferences, job fairs in minority communities, and online social media pages or forums serving minority communities. Not only do you meet a diverse set of candidates, but you also position your company's brand to be one that values diverse talent. When candidates feel like they are being sought out by a company they are more likely to want to work for the company because they feel wanted and valued. Therefore, continuously seek out diverse talent and they will seek you out in return.
2) Sponsor Cultural Celebrations
Sometimes the best recruiting happens when you are not trying to recruit at all. By creating a reputation for your company as an ally to diversity you are attracting top talent without even having to ask for a resume. Diverse candidates like to see their potential employer champion diverse causes and show their support for cultural activities. It makes potential employees feel that your company is a place that they could feel at home and valued. There are thousands of events that you can sponsor: Cinco de Mayo Parades, Dia de los Muertos Celebrations, Black History Month Exhibits, Pride, Women's March, ect. It is also a fun event just to take some friends from the company and enjoy a day celebrating diversity. Who says you can't have fun at work.
3) Showcase Diverse Talent
You are proud of your employees. There is no shame in letting the world know too. People want to work at places that they know they will feel challenged and where they will succeed. When companies showcase that diverse talent has thrived within their workplace, it attracts other diverse voices to join the team. No one wants to work at a place where they do not feel represented or where their voices won't be valued. When showcasing your team on social media, ensure that the diversity of your team is represented. Avoid only sharing images that consist of only one type of gender, race, age, etc. Showcase the diversity of your workplace and be proud of the teams you have put together.
4) Host Networking Events
Who doesn't love Friday happy hours? It is great getting together with members of the company after a long week, but what about bringing together top talent from various companies to mix and mingle? Large companies are often coming together to empower minority groups within the industry to meet each other and share ideas. Events such as 'Women who Code,' LGBTQ+ Marketing mixers, and Society of Hispanic Engineers events happen throughout the country. Team up with other companies and host an event at a local brewery or park and get all of your employees to meet people from other companies. Your employees create connections and mentorships that will attract talent to your company because of how well your employees were admired.
5) Empower Minority Youth
Representation is one of the most important things when creating a spark in young talent. Teens and college students want to work at a place where they see themselves. Organize outreach missions that empower the youth and inspire them to reach for their dreams. No kid will ever forget the first time they felt like they could be the next CEO or create the big viral ad. Create opportunities for minority youth to engage with your brand such as Hackathons, school events, company tours, and other fun events that allow students to see themselves working for your company in a few years. Investing in students and continuously engaging with them year after year is the best way to capture young talent and develop them throughout their career.
6) Hire a Diversity Recruiter
If you want diverse employees, diversity should also exist within the vendors and partners you choose to work with outside the office. These can include advertising agencies, freelancers, contractors, but especially executive recruiters. Diversity recruiters are experts in identifying talent that will expand your company’s capabilities by finding the right talent to build your power teams. At DCAProSearch we have placed diverse talent within top agencies and companies for over 24 years and can confidently say that diverse talent is essential to tapping the benefits of multiculturalism.
The fact is simple, if you want to attract diverse talent you have to reevaluate your hiring practices to market your open positions to attract that diverse talent. If you continue using your old hiring practices, you will continue to hire the same type of employees you have always hired. Therefore, switch things up and diversify your hiring process and you will see the types of candidates you attract begin to differ as well.