Look, we all know there are diversity issues in the executive ranks and has been for many years. Is it due to a lack of talent from which to choose, unconscious bias, diversity fatigue, ignorance, revenge, real racism, conscious bias, etc, etc…? Yes, yes and yes!
Some may find it odd that a white, heterosexual male in his 50’s would opine about diversity hiring and I understand. All I can say is on a personal and professional level I have witnessed actions that are wrong, misleading and in some cases maybe even illegal. Plus diversity is so much more than race and gender. So while I do not represent the macro experience I do represent a micro perspective. I also have managed teams responsible for senior executive level hiring and have consistently met or exceeded national benchmarks of diversity metrics for Fortune 200 companies.
There are no shortage of opinions, research and ideas to improve. The challenge is moving the needle, one decision, one hire at a time and remain a strategic part of any organization’s mission, vision and culture in order to embrace and experience the benefits and riches of true diversity. I certainly don’t profess to understand all the dynamics or have all the answers.
I would like to share a few ideas my teams have implemented over the years in order to more effectively identify, engage, interview, hire and develop a more diverse group of talent within our executive offices. Maybe a few of these will resonate with you.
➤ Of most importance, be intentional in your efforts and have a strategy.
➤ Hold regular meetings with Office of Diversity & Inclusion:
- Understand what is important to them, how they define diversity, how you can help them and vice versa.
- Regularly share reports of all executive level openings.
- Be specific about positions where you are struggling to identify diverse talent…share key collateral for distribution within their network and ask for referrals.
- Have diversity office meet with short-list diverse candidates to speak to the culture and opportunities within the organization.
➤ Partner with outside vendors of minority and/or diverse ownership and focus.
➤ Earn Diversity Awards and share within your internal and external talent community.
➤ Be consistent with interview questions and interviewers and use objective data for hiring decisions.
➤ Be aware of individuals within your “market” that represent diversity and develop relationships with and engage them in conversation. Learn what is important to them, what they are looking for and share tips of what your company seeks in executive talent. Nurture the relationship and show genuine interest in their career.
➤ Develop relationships with various schools, universities, organizations and associations that represent candidates of diversity.
➤ Strive to hire individuals not like you. We may not be able to fix an entire organization but if You are a leader, look around. If all you see is “you” in your direct reports or division, then I would suggest You do something about it…you will be rewarded beyond your imagination.
➤ Look internally. As part of your talent management program identify a diverse group of high performing employees and provide a structured and comprehensive learning platform.
About the author: Mike Boate has been in executive search since 1992. He has built and led the internal executive talent acquisition function for three multi-billion dollar organizations and delivered results for diversity hiring and other key metrics that met or exceeded national benchmarkDs for Fortune 200 companies. He has also built 2 national retained search firms. His passion is creating avenues of higher success for organizations and individuals by focusing on the value of human capital. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org