Connecting Exceptional Talent with Global Clients for Mutual Success in DEI Recruiting

Time to Read: 6.1 minutes

Updated: February 20, 2024

Michelle Schmidt is an accomplished DEI recruiting professional at Pierpoint International with more than 13 years of experience. She has a track record of surpassing goals by connecting exceptional talent with renowned clients globally. Michelle’s primary focus is on facilitating the ideal match, considering the best interests of both the company and the individual. By ensuring mutual success, she enables both parties to reach their fullest potential.

What inspired you to pursue a career in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how did you get started in this field?

I was inspired to pursue a career in DEI recruiting because I am passionate about creating more inclusive communities where everyone can be seen and heard. The modern workplace is changing rapidly, with new technologies and ways of working, and we’re in a great position to change even more! That means embracing real diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve processes, products, and services with an empowered workforce that reflects the diversity of target markets, consumers, and customers.

Also, as a child of immigrant parents, I witnessed first-hand the challenges they faced navigating complex systems. Their struggles ignited a passion within me to advocate on behalf of others and help create opportunities for a broader range of people.

Can you tell us about a particularly challenging DEI recruiting project or initiative that you have led, and how you overcame any obstacles?

When Pierpoint is engaged to fill strategic roles for organizations in a specific location, we look at the local talent pool as well as a broader national one to try and use local expertise and knowledge as well as broad industry experience. We always make sure that diverse candidates interview for every position that we have available.

In one situation, I was working with a role in a location that didn’t have a very diverse local talent pool. I did research and was able to partner with local associations that work with underrepresented minorities, and through this partnership, I found an ideal candidate for that position.

How do you measure the success of your work in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and communities?

It’s not easy to measure the success of your DEI recruiting efforts. I always provide a diverse long and shortlist of candidates and have extensive awareness of how to ensure bias does not impact our processes.

We also work closely with hiring managers to make sure there’s no unconscious bias affecting their decision-making. Technology innovations offer a great opportunity to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring, as humans have unconscious biases that “slip in” despite our best efforts. My team and I use the latest technology to remove those biases and create real, equal-opportunity hiring processes for our clients.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing organizations in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and how can they overcome them?

The biggest challenge for organizations creating more diverse and inclusive workspaces is a lack of understanding and awareness of DEI among leadership, managers, and employees. Aside from DEI recruiting initiatives, your organization’s fundamental processes and approaches need to change to drive true DEI. This largely stems from unconscious biases that make people risk-averse, change-averse, and generally opposed to trying different techniques for fear of a loss of efficiency, productivity, and revenue. However, integrating DEI-focused strategies into recruitment and company culture has profound benefits for everyone in the organization, from better talent retention and lower recruitment costs for the employer to better career progression and opportunities for employees.

Limited recruitment processes, an inability to reach broader talent pools, inadequate diversity training, insufficient leadership support, and resistance to change play a big part in this. To overcome these challenges, organizations should look to provide proper and continuous training across the organization, not just to hiring managers. That complete commitment to educating everyone on the benefits and opportunities posed by DEI needs commitment from all levels, from leadership down, so that everyone is accountable for its success. Accountability and commitment are the keys to authentic equity and inclusion.

What advice would you give to organizations or individuals who want to become more involved in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion or seek a career in DEI recruiting?

My first piece of advice about promoting DEI as a recruiter or advocate would be to learn as much as you can. There are countless resources online and a good number of diversity advocates who share their insights and are usually willing to help you if you reach out to them. Also, never forget to question your own belief system to make sure you’re not interfering with any type of process at work due to unconscious biases you may have. We all have biases, whether we know about them or not, so it’s important to read about the most common unconscious biases and actively look to change our approach.

How do you think technology and social media have impacted the work of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Social media is an opportunity for diverse voices to be heard. It has never been so easy to see and reach people to understand their perspectives, their challenges, and their triumphs. Social media is constantly facilitating conversations about important social issues.

Technology innovations also help address the challenges of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, by providing tools for remote work and addressing accessibility needs. Aspects of automation and AI help remove some of the human-led biases that impact hiring outcomes too, giving everyone with the right skills, experience, and knowledge a fair chance in every role.

Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives that you are particularly excited about?

While I can’t be specific at this point, we have some exciting initiatives underway to give back to the community. Univar Solutions and Pierpoint International are still working with several organizations to go over the details of the implementation process, but we’d like to get involved with non-profit organizations that support underrepresented minorities and give back to the community.

How do you see the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion evolving in the next 5-10 years, and what role do you see yourself playing in this evolution?

Personally, I see the field of DEI becoming mainstream and a standard part of all recruitment and employment in the next five to ten years. I’d love to see all types of organizations worldwide make an effort to ensure everyone gets the chance they deserve. I believe that through our hard work, we’re making an impact and ensuring that really does happen.

What message would you like to leave with organizations and individuals who are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces and communities?

First, I would like to congratulate anyone who has taken DEI on to champion it in their organization. I would recommend that they undertake a very honest analysis of how their organization is dealing with these issues currently, how much impact they have made, what official documentation or policy exists, how their workforce feels about it, and identify any areas for improvement.

Many organizations focus on improving diversity metrics within their workforce, but that only solves one part of the problem. You need to support a diverse workforce by fostering a culture that values differences, leverages unique perspectives, and promotes equity and inclusion for all.

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Michelle Schmidt

Michelle Schmidt is an accomplished DEI recruiting professional at Pierpoint International with more than 13 years of experience. She has a track record of surpassing goals by connecting exceptional talent with renowned clients globally. Michelle's primary focus is on facilitating the ideal match, considering the best interests of both the company and the individual. By ensuring mutual success, she enables both parties to reach their fullest potential.

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2024-02-20T13:33:56-05:00
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