Straight talk; de-mystifying diversity hiring terms


As we get ready to embark into 2020, I think everyone can agree that having a diverse workforce offers tremendous benefits, not only to the bottom-line profitability to a company, but to the workforce as a whole.

Employees from different backgrounds bring diverse experiences to the table, and that inevitably results in being able to offer products and services to a wider array of customers.

While I wholeheartedly have believed in the concept of delivering all potential candidates to our clients since the start of my recruiting career, to be candid I have struggled with the implementation. Speaking for myself, the biggest challenge has been overcoming the perception that when a company is trying to proactively create a diverse workforce by seeking out diversity candidates, that in itself is exclusionary to non-diverse candidates.

The game changer for me in overcoming my concerns was when I became acquainted with Pat Wadors and Sandy Hoffman.

Pat is Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow and is, as she describes it – on a journey to unlock talent to achieve their full potential, while creating an inclusive culture where everyone can feel like they belong as their true authentic self.


Sandy Hoffman, also works with ServiceNow and leads Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Pat and Sandy are now my go-to experts on all things related to diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

There was a tangible shift in my thinking after sharing my concerns with Pat and Sandy. As they explained it to me, the best way to achieve diversity is to have the focus being on inclusion, as opposed to exclusion.

This essentially removes the negatives and leaves all the positives. For the end goal in creating fully diverse teams is not to be exclusive of anyone ; but rather to be INCLUSIVE and we are simply working to make that happen.

After publishing our last article, I have been asked to define some common terms used when striving to achieve a diversified workforce, so once again have reached out to Pat and Sandy for their insights.

Read on to hear definitions of common terms applied to diversity recruiting, and how we can best implement them to achieve the ultimate goal of providing all viable candidates the opportunity to interview for positions, and to create environments where everyone feels a true sense of belonging.


Ann: I keep hearing the term DIVERSE SLATE. Can you please clarify for us what that really means? What percentage of the employee pool is sufficient?

Pat: A diverse slate is sourcing for the voice that is missing from the current team! In many companies, they are attempting to apply the Rooney Rule but that really doesn’t work. Especially if you are only focused on the hiring end of the equation and not addressing an inclusive culture. If interested in this approach – apply a modified Rooney rule that seeks talent that is different than the current team to add to the mix! If you have at least 20% + of different – you significantly increase the chances of hiring the “add” vs a “fit”.

Sandy: Pat is right. In the rule’s current iteration, minority candidates are still often interviewed to “check off a box”. There is no or limited set of checks and balances to ensure a fair interview. The good news, the rules continue to evolve and be modified by many companies.


Ann: Can you please expand on the values of having a DIVERSE INTERVIEW PANEL?

Pat: A best practice is to have a trained hiring panel – one that is aware of their biases to reduce impact in hiring recommendations – and a panel that is diverse in backgrounds, gender etc to show candidates that they can survive and most importantly THRIVE in your company. To see someone that they (the candidate) can relate to, reduces anxiety and increases chances that they will accept your offer.

Sandy: I could not agree more, bringing underrepresented employees into your interview process shows that you’re committed to different points of views/opinions and it can reduce bias and puts in place the checks and balances to guard against in-group bias. Case in point, Cisco, increased the chances that black women will make it through the interview process by about 70%.


Ann: What do you believe is the biggest obstacle in having companies create fully diverse teams? Is it primarily a supply problem?

Pat: I think the 1st step is to hold up the mirror to the hiring managers and their teams – ask them what is missing from the team? From the discussion?
The 2nd step – have a robust outreach – be nontraditional. We don’t have a supply problem, we just need to open the aperture in our search.
3rd – tell better stories and showcase your diversity in your organization today! Unlock the whole person at work. Showcase a healthy, respectful culture where everyone can belong and where individual differences are celebrated. That will change the landscape organically – great people want to work with great people! A study from Glassdoor, indicated 67% of our candidate pool want to work at diverse companies.

Sandy: Also, hiring managers can write better job descriptions – unconscious bias often filters through to job description. A study done by the American Psychological Association found that words associated with masculine and feminine stereotypes perpetuate gender inequality in job ads. Also, do you have pay disparity? In a world where we are becoming more transparent, great people want to work with great people and companies who are striving toward fair practices.


Ann: Pat, do you want to share your thoughts on the pitfalls on focusing on time to hire as opposed to focusing on quality of the candidate pool?

Pat: Wow – there is so much about the risk of speed! That is when our unconscious biases get to run crazy – without check. We must slow our neurological roll so to speak to make the best decision. We can’t eliminate bias, but we can kick its butt if we focus and SLOW down. Even a simple question – “Did you seek the culture add for your team?” would lead to better healthier outcomes.


We hope this article sheds some light on implementing diversity recruiting and most importantly, after reading this our sincere hope is that recruiters and hiring managers are truly comfortable in actively working towards an inclusive environment where everyone that is qualified for a job is given the opportunity to apply and interview, and once hired, is made to feel welcome in their work environment.


Pat Wadors – Chief Talent Office and Chief Human Resources Officer

Pat Wadors joined ServiceNow in September 2017 and serves as the Chief Talent Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer for ServiceNow. Prior to joining ServiceNow, Wadors was Senior Vice President Global Talent Organization at LinkedIn where her focus was on recruiting and developing top talent, driving organizational transformation, supporting a highly engaged workforce and growing LinkedIn’s global footprint. Additionally, Wadors held human resources leadership positions at Plantronics, Yahoo!, Align Technology and Applied Materials. Wadors earned her B.S. in business management with a concentration in human resources management and a minor in psychology from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
You can check out Pat’s Harvard Business Review article, Diversity Efforts Fall Short Unless Employees Feel That They Belong, here


Sandy Hoffman – Sr Director, Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Sandy Hoffman joined ServiceNow in 2018 to help lead the evolution of its Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging strategy and to promote ServiceNow’s purpose to make the world of work, work better for people. She is seen as a thought leader, strategist, business influencer and change catalyst to enable solutions that drive talent engagement, business growth and empower our employees and members to realize their full potential.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants. ISC has been a leader in executive recruiting since 1999. You can reach Ann directly at or 888-866-7276.


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