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.
We are in a candidate market, which means one thing: If you are not giving your employees what they want, they will leave you. To make matters more complicated, once your employees leave you, it will be difficult to fill those positions unless you give the new candidates what they want plus more. The most recent jobs report revealed that companies have more open positions than there are qualified employees to fill them. The vacancy of a mid-to-top-tier level employee making $100,000 typically costs a company $1,149 a day, assuming the average employee brings in three times their salary. Therefore, as an employer and team leader you need to take a few steps to ensure your talent remains with you to avoid the costs of an unexpected vacant position.
Team Up with an Outside Recruiter
When I connect with new clients, the main excuse they give me is, “Why do we need an outside recruiter? That’s what HR is for.” Except not really”. Your company’s HR has many essential functions they oversee. Recruiting and developing talent is an area they can’t truly devote too much time to and a lot of great talent is missed or neglected. When employees decide they want to pursue another position, it is likely because an outside recruiter contacted them about a great opportunity elsewhere. Therefore, an outside recruiter can either be your biggest competition or your best friend. Job candidates see outside recruiters as an unbiased third party and more trustworthy than your HR contact. As your ally, executive recruiters can train an employee on how to progress within the company rather than find a new position. Furthermore, any ethical recruiter will refuse to siphon talent from an existing client making the executive recruiter your friend as opposed to your competition.
Ensure Your Employees are Your Top Priority
The expectations of employers usually revolve around two ideals: make a profit for shareholders and keep customers happy. However, employees have begun to demand that they be included in the mix too. Studies have shown that the happier employees are at work the less likely they are to leave, and the more value they bring to the company. Therefore, implement office activities that break the monotony of the work day and keep employees excited about coming to work. For offices on a higher budget that could be taking team development days at a Ropes Course or schedule an office Happy Hour. Offices on a lower budget can sign up for an Ice Cream of the Month Subscription or even go out to volunteer together as a team.
Stop Building a Team and Start Forming a Family
While team building is important, no amount of team development days can replace the connection that you will build with your employees. The number one reason candidates refuse to leave their current position is because of the bonds they have formed with their managers and colleagues. Make it a point to get to know what your employees do outside of work. Meet their families and connect with their kids on bring your kid to work day. Attend events that your employees invite you to. Form connections with them outside of the daily 9 to 5. The close family bonds that employees form with the people they work with are what keeps them at a company, and in some cases cause them to follow their bosses or colleagues to a new company if they leave.
Train Steadily and Promote Regularly
Nobody likes to feel stagnant in their job. The majority of employers will hire new talent and expect them to hit the ground running. However, training them too quickly will typically result in one of two things: the employee will feel overwhelmed, shut down, and leave after a year, or the employee will perfect their role, enjoy it, and then feel unchallenged after a year. The key to a new hire is to continue to develop their skills steadily to keep your employees challenged and always learning. Training them steadily as opposed to all at once will allow them to master, and in some cases improve, how they perform each task they are assigned before venturing to the next challenge. Finally, after about two to three years when they have learned everything in their current role, promote them to continue challenging their skills and keep them from feeling stagnant.
If you Love Them, Let them Go
It’s hard to accept, but sometimes there just is not anything more you can do for your employees and it is out of your control. It may be that they deserve to get promoted but you do not have a position, or they got an offer that is too good to be true. Whatever the case, if you want to see them succeed you have to let them go. Throw them a departure party and invite the rest of the team. This way you can get closure, the rest of your employees can get closer, and the employee leaving can feel valued. Letting your employee leave will give them skills and experiences you could not have taught them, and will make them better. However, do not throw away all hope. If you did everything right, many employees realize how good they had it at their previous company and will come back later when a position opens. Therefore, it isn’t a “goodbye,” but rather a “see you later.” In the meantime call your outside recruiter and start a search to find the next member of your team.
Losing an employee is always difficult and costly, but making your employees feel valued is the best way to ensure that you retain your team. Build a connection with them and the other members on your team and express with them that you are glad they joined the team. However, don’t be so naive to believe an employee will never leave you. Be ready for them to depart unexpectedly, because one day they will find an opportunity that is too good to pass up. Find an executive recruiter, and be proactive in recruiting by forming a relationship with your recruiter. That way your recruiter knows what you value in your employees so they can keep some people in mind if the day comes you need to replace an employee.
Before the rise of the modern day activist brand, companies previously held a low standard on what it meant to be a socially conscious brand. However, as the evolution of the socially conscious brand has begun to take on more meaning, consumers are demanding brands take a stand on the social inequalities that the brands had once tried to ignore. Marketers must understand the evolution of the socially conscious brand to foresee the future of what the socially conscious brand will become.
1900’s: Fiscal Philanthropist
In the past, brands did not have to do much to be considered socially conscious. All they had to do was simply write a yearly check toward a cause or selected charity. Their impact to bring about social change was no more than the silent Fiscal Philanthropist. Although their monetary donations are appreciated, the donations did little to bring positive social change. Today, brands still claim to be socially conscious by writing a yearly check. However, consumers are dismissing the "blank check" approach as part of a corporate show with little sentiment to create lasting social change.
Mid 2000’s: Social Givers
Then came along brands like Tom's and Warby Parker that revolutionized the Socially Conscious Brand with the Buy One, Give One model of giving that redefined what it meant to not only be socially conscious, but active. The new socially conscious brand was no longer a once-a-year commitment, but a constant source of social good to support far-away nations and impoverished peoples. This created a wave of corporations poorly copying the Tom's and Warby Parker model of the socially conscious brand, pushing to remain relevant by engaging in a form of corporate poverty porn. Major companies patted themselves on the back by appearing in photos and videos as saviors of the third world, but continuing to remain silent to the inequalities that existed at home.
2010 – 2016: Cautious Ally
With the rise of multiculturalism and the modern LGBT movement, 2010 brands began to test their influence to impact social change. As support for diversity and LGBT causes increased, brands such as IKEA, Oreo, and Tiffany & Company recognized the power of representation by engaging with the LGBT movement. The introduction of same-sex couples to their advertisements not only brought higher sales and brand recognition, it created discourse about the subject. This recognition brought about the need for increased diversity and multiculturalism in advertising to represent all consumers. Companies followed suit, releasing campaigns like Coca Cola’s America the Beautiful ad in 2014 that championed racial and ethnic diversity.
The new Socially Conscious brand was a champion for diversity and used its influence to recognize the beauty of multiculturalism. Consumers rewarded brands that they saw represented the diversity of America with higher sales and higher brand recognition. Hundreds of companies began establishing diversity and inclusion departments to mirror the diversity of the marketplace in their offices to encourage diversity of thought. However, although brands were quick to embrace multiculturalism and include those once ignored by advertisers, their involvement only went as far as being cautious corporate allies. Brands were still skittish around causing real social change.
2016 - Present: Vocal Activist
The election of the new administration rang in a new era for the Socially Conscious Brand: The era of the Resistors. Socially Conscious Brands have evolved from the brand as an active observer to a vocal advocate against injustice. The presence of more multicultural, female, and LGBT representation in the workforce has given rise to the vocally polarizing brands we see today. From Ben & Jerry refusing to serve two scoops of the same ice cream in Australia for LGBT rights to Nike’s Collin Kaepernick ad to the recent Gillette #MeToo ad, brands have recognized the power of their voice for social change.
Today, the socially conscious brand must go further than donate money. They must create discourses around injustice and be able to challenge the status quo. Consumers are more active in social issues than ever, and they expect the brands they use to reflect those values. Although new social warrior brands have repelled some consumers, all in all, they have been rewarded for their social convictions by loyalists and activists alike.
2020 – Future: Transparent Role Model
Skepticism still exists around the socially conscious brand of today and the motives behind becoming social warriors. Many consumers argue that the socially conscious brand is only challenging the status quo to benefit their bottom line. Therefore, the socially conscious brand of the future must prove to consumers that they practice what they preach by incorporating diversity throughout the office. Transparency is the next step in brand evolution where consumers will want to see top management reflecting diversity principles that the company promotes. Customers in stores will want to see products that accommodate people of different abilities, religions, and gender identities. Marketers, heed note because soon enough diversity will become tangible in the products and services we use every day. Utilize diversity recruiters to start the change in the office space, create social groups within your company to celebrate diversity, and engage in social celebrations such as Pride and other cultural festivals. Start preparing your corporate culture now because otherwise, you will fail to be the socially conscious brand of tomorrow.