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"Well, we tried."
Many companies say they want to hire more diverse candidates, but can't find them. How can companies break the cycle: people hiring people who look like them? How can companies develop a talented workforce that better reflects their customer base? What can tech companies learn from other sectors?
I believe that existing company culture has to change before a company will be able to attract/retain a critical mass of diverse workers. The operative question is not where do we find "them", but what can we do to make our workplace culture someplace that all types of people would like to work? Then candidates of all stripes will apply.
The answer is culture, as Ellen notes, but specifically, changes in search, recruitment, and hiring practices. Who is delegated to undertake a search, how is it done, and what kind of accountability is demanded? Organizations rely, excessively if not exclusively, on existing networks of universities and companies. They "can't find" because they don't recruit in the right places. They don't hire because their review criteria are not holistic and reflect their current workforce instead of the future workforce. The latter should mirror its customer base. In short, don't look for "fit" with the status quo; rather, create a culture and climate that are both welcoming and supportive of a range of talent that represent a diversity of background, knowledge, and perspective.
Yes, I agree with Daryl. It's a "chicken and egg" though. Even if you recruit in the right places, diverse candidates (whether diverse in race, gender, national origin or just in ways of thinking) may not join or stay.
And if they agree to join, you are still not guaranteed success.
Merely hiring a group of people into a company that is not welcoming will not work. These hires will just quit, or worse, may be evaluated by people who do not understand or welcome them, and will be considered poor performers and be terminated.
Before you embark on a diversity hiring campaign, its really important to ensure the existing organization is ready and willing to change
Ellen's key phrase is "ensure the existing organization is ready and willing to change." How do we diagnose that? Are there indicators, e.g., pressure from the outside (I'm thinking Silicon Valley), that practices must change and that accountability must improve? Retention is one measure, but certainly recruiting from and offers to a more diverse pool (of candidates, universities, companies) is another indicator.
They say diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance. To many companies worry about diversity. The problem is that diversity is about numbers. Typically meeting the numbers alone can be a challenge and then retaining a diverse workforce that you have recruited is even harder. Why? Because it is not about recruiting and numbers. It is about attraction. It is about connections. Which means it is all about culture. Create an inclusive culture; a culture that creates a place where everyone feels valued, respected and safe consistently. Only once you have focused on culture will you be able to attract and retain a diverse workforce. If you focus on culture your numbers will come.
"How can companies break the cycle: people hiring people who look like them"? I agree with the previous comments and thought I'd add my personal journey as additional stimulus. From my own experience I believe leaders need to look at the networks they personally engage with and proactively broaden them to gain a better understanding of the challenge and reframe it for them personally.
A year ago I launched a peer to peer recommendation platform in the UK called AnyGood?. It's where professionals recommend professionals for roles. We started the network with the professionals that myself and my co-founder knew. We'd both been in tech and FS programme delivery in corporates for over 20 years so when we took a step back and looked at who we knew, it became obvious that the creation of this network would perpetuate the problem of underrepresentation rather than help it.
As a result I began to broaden my network. This wasn't a simple "find people who don't look like me on LinkedIn" and invite them. This was physically meeting and getting to know professionals from all different types of backgrounds and communities. It also included having difficult and open conversations, to allow me to understand much more about the challenges faced and recognise what role I could play in making a difference.
One thing I noticed during this time was that through meeting personally with people, not only did I begin to grow my network into one that is a better representation of society, but my connection to the problem also changed as did my focus on making a difference. Through connecting with people who have different stories to tell than those you're used to hearing, the lens through which you view work and life changes and this filters into the decisions you make and the impact you have on others.
To break the cycle and for change to take place with true desire and authenticity, we have to look at ourselves as leaders and go there first.
In order to recruit on the basis of diversity of thought, one must look to diversity of experience to make an impact. And, diversity of experience typically comes from a wide variety of people who have lived different lives. Lives that are different in ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic experiences. If diversity of thought is not inherently valued in a corporate culture, then recruiting a diverse set of colleagues is meaningless. So, in my mind, it starts with a corporate culture that truly values and respects diverse thinking as important to business success. If that belief is part of a company culture, then recruiting will follow, and the culture will blossom, as will the business.
I beleive the emphasis must be on the role of leadership with intercultural effectiveness.
The topic of equality and age is relevant in all industries and it’s about being aware of any bias in within any organisation and the ability to set agendas to irradiate it, giving those most suited to positions the opportunity to enjoy their careers regardless of their age or gender.
Leaders need to be seen to positively influencing safe and healthy behaviour in employees. It is interesting to note that the leadership dimensions that enhance Health and Safety coincide with those that promote effective diversity management. I believe that effective leadership, by means of transformational leadership, leader–member exchange, etc., will enhance H&S in general, but in particular in a culturally diverse work team, by enhancing team identification.
With respect to participation, this means that management of H&S in a culturally diverse working environment demands an approach that includes multiple voices, and one in which it is possible to considerably