By Alyssa Thach, President & COO, Pierpoint International LLC
The tragic death of George Floyd and the demonstrations and civil unrest that followed brought the topics of diversity & inclusion into the spotlight. However, they deserve our attention all the time. The topics are huge, so let’s focus on diversity & inclusion (D&I) in recruiting. Of course you need to comply with EOE and ADA, but there are some very compelling reasons to promote diversity in your organization and, naturally, recruiting is a great place to start. In this blog series, I’ll share insights, emerging ideas and practical suggestions around D&I in recruiting.
In Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, McKinsey & Company make a powerful case for D&I in business. They have tracked hundreds of companies since 2014, essentially measuring the correlations between diversity and performance. They report that, while overall progress toward D&I goals is slow, the companies with greater diversity consistently outperform less diverse companies. For example, with regard to financial performance, companies with significant ethnic diversity are a whopping 36% more likely to outperform less diverse ones.
There are plenty of reasons why D&I gives you a competitive advantage. This example is from my own experience at a medical device company, as the company was launching a new product. There were almost no women on the product development team, and they didn’t get input from women health care workers. When the products were launched, women in healthcare considered the materials to be too heavy and the products hard to maneuver. Not surprisingly, the launch wasn’t very successful. Not only were women the intended users, but women make up 70% of the global workforce in healthcare, according to catalyst.org. They are decision influencers in the healthcare profession, as consumers, and the workforce.
Another advantage of having a diverse workforce is that it promotes innovation. D&I introduces different perspectives from different life experiences into your organization. According to the World Economic Forum, diverse environments are much more conducive to creativity and innovation than homogeneous ones.
It makes sense. If all six of the people in a brainstorming session are from the same background and worldview, it’s likely that they will have similar ideas. Compare that to a team of six that represents diversity in gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, etc. That team is bound to come up with some great ideas that challenge the status quo. Personally, I would rather sit at the second table — it sounds much more interesting!
There are a lot of articles available today on the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) in promoting diversity. But the reverse is also true: Diversity promotes emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, a thought leader in EI since 1995, says that diverse environments promote openness to differences. That is a key component of emotional intelligence. D&I and EI feed one another, and both are essential to business success.
Diversity is good for all stakeholders in your company, and it is especially important for employee engagement. Almost all studies about engagement indicate that respect and recognition are key factors in retaining great talent. Writing on Fundera.com, Eric Goldschein says that the number one reason good employees quit is a lack of respect. A strong D&I program will help ensure that all employees feel respected, and help you keep your strong performers.
A good D&I program starts with recruiting, and here is one idea that you can start using today. Hopefully it will entice you to check back and read more.
While some people approach recruiting with a focus on what the candidate can bring to the company, an emerging best practice is to focus on the needs and motivations of the target audience. Then recruiters can develop messaging about how an open position will fulfill those needs and motivations. This approach borrows concepts like “employment value proposition” from marketing to help attract and engage top talent.
A good marketing program recognizes diversity among consumers, and adjusts outreach accordingly. A good recruiting program should do the same. For example, if you have entry level roles to fill, you might reach out to historically black colleges and universities. There are professional groups that address the interests of many groups, and some can help you find talent from groups that have, historically, been underrepresented in certain professions. Two examples are the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA).
Diversity & inclusion can give your company an advantage in many areas, including performance, innovation and employee engagement. In my next post I’ll explore identifying and minimizing bias in sourcing, interviewing and selecting talent.
Stay tuned for part 2 in this series coming up soon!
In the meantime, please feel free to contact us if we can help you incorporate diversity in your talent acquisition program.