It wasn’t long after I started recruiting 24 years ago that I realized that in the majority of the companies that we worked with, the executive teams all looked the same. Regardless of what the C-Suite’s background was, they inevitably hired people from similar backgrounds
The obvious disadvantage of this is when a company surrounds itself with a very narrow profile of employees but are wanting to sell to a diverse customer base, there is inevitably a gap. And a risk. You won’t know your customer as well as you should. Experts tell us the reason people do this, is to de-risk failure. Assuming the current team is successful, they want to replicate that formula (i.e. their pattern of hiring). However, the inherent risk in this practice is that it will perhaps cap future growth over time or slow down path to success.
We Need to Shift from Culture Fit to Focusing on Culture ADD
The advantages of creating a diverse employee base are massive. Studies show that companies with a diverse workforce consistently outperform their competitors. They demonstrate HIGHER PROFITS, increased PRODUCTIVITY, improved employee engagement, REDUCED attrition, greater creativity, and a substantially higher brand reputation.
As more and more companies become aware of the benefits of creating teams that reflect their customers, combined with societal pressures to do the right thing, the focus continues to be on recruiting. The recruiting world will continue to be challenged to actively identify, attract, and deliver diverse candidates to hiring managers.
It should be emphasized that not only should recruiting professionals feel a sense of urgency to consistently provide the broadest candidate choices, but it is equally important for companies to invest the time and energy to create a healthy culture where everyone will want to stay. If the attrition equals or outpaces the hiring pipeline, companies won’t be able to move the needle.
Therefore – the ultimate goal should not only be in hiring diverse candidates, but to also strive for creating work environments that are inclusive of all employees, where the entire workforce feels valued and respected. When this occurs, both hiring and retention rates improve.
Over the years, I have attended over a dozen training sessions on diversity recruiting. One unique thing I always notice during these seminars, is that people are often too nervous to really ask the questions they need to ask when it comes to this topic. I have sat with hundreds of engaged professional recruiters who pay good money to attend, yet decline to ask any questions, and then quietly confide that they have no clue how to confidently navigate the art of diversity recruiting.
It is for this reason, we have written this article and aim to shed light on this very important topic.
This is a Journey and not a Destination; the World Continues to Evolve, as Will We
Out of all the diversity trainings that I have watched, the very best ones have been given by Pat Wadors. 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.
Pat is my go-to expert on all things related to diversity, inclusion, and belonging. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on a subject that is clearly very dear to her heart and introduced me to Sandy Hoffman, who leads Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at ServiceNow.
Ann: Pat it would probably be wise to define Diversity Recruiting for starters. One of the main questions I often hear is people question that by targeting diversity candidates that in itself is discriminatory against non-diversity candidates. But in reality, isn’t the purpose of diversity recruiting to broaden the pool of employees to better reflect the population the company is serving, as well as to reach out and provide candidates, that may not otherwise come to the hiring manager’s attention, the opportunity to interview?
Pat: In its pure definition – diversity recruiting is the practice of hiring candidates using a process that is free from biases for or against any individual or group of candidates. But that seems contradictory to the often-asked request of find me X – be it gender, ethnicity or race when it then naturally becomes a biased search. In many companies – just using the words diversity recruiting – feels exclusionary and seeking a number, not an amazingly talented individual that will add their special magic to the team.
If a company wanted to pursue a diverse workforce, then their attention should equally be on inclusion and helping create a sense of belonging within their organization. The goal is to both hire and retain amazing talent.
Ann: For me the turning point in my thought process after discussing this with Pat and Sandy is that with the way you position diversity recruiting efforts, with the focus being on inclusion, it removes the negatives and leaves all the positives. Now I know what to say when someone says heaven help people that are not what one would typically consider a diversity candidate… the goal is not to be exclusive of anyone but rather to be INCLUSIVE and we are simply working to make that happen. Quite frankly that has been the game changer for me in terms of being comfortable and gaining confidence in seeking out diversity candidates for our clients.
Sandy: Exactly! As Pat mentions, the end game is to both hire and retain amazing talent. Simply recruiting new diverse hires isn’t enough to promote lasting change in your organization. Valued employees will leave if they feel they do not belong and/or advance which in the long run can hurt your talent brand.
Some companies are moving away from the term diversity recruiting to inclusion recruiting for this very reason.
Ann: I think many people assume diversity in terms of hiring is strictly related to race, but it can also include people of varying gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion, languages, education, ability, etc. Is that correct?
Pat: YES! And introversion, extroversion, social economic background differences, being a parent, being responsible for elder care… the list goes on! The real magic here is that we need to see everyone for who they are – their full intersectionality. Not just what we quickly assess by “seeing someone” or by their title. I think this broader perspective is why companies are beginning to seek the “culture add” vs the “fit”. What additional perspective can be added to the mix to create even brighter outcomes?
Sandy: To expand, “culture add” is a term used to describe people who not only value the company’s standards and workplace culture but also bring an aspect of diversity that positively contributes to the organization. Changing the mindset to “culture add” also helps change the recruiting mindset from “What doesn’t this candidate have?” to “What can this person bring to the table?”.
Ann: Pat, so what is the best way to determine if a candidate is in fact a diversity candidate? Often times companies want reports that show the number of diversity candidates pre-screened for roles… how should recruiters ethically and lawfully gather this information?
Pat: Open your recruiting reach to invite everyone to the virtual table – show them ways that they will not only survive but thrive in your organization. Getting candidates to self id in the early stages of recruiting can also be troublesome as some will choose NOT to identify. Biases are often unconscious but if you were a minority – you are hoping that your experience speaks for itself – NOT being chosen for what you look like or your gender.
To combat that potential bias, there are companies and approaches that seek to remove last names, your picture, your home address, your school or associations that may lead to identify in one group vs the other. This may get the resume in the mix – but what happens when that diverse candidate walks through your door? Or how they are greeted during a video or phone screen? You only get one 1st impression with an amazing candidate… Make it the best you can.
We all know that there are a multitude of benefits for companies that create an inclusive group of employees. Hopefully this information will make creating those highly productive, successful multi-cultural teams a little easier, and open the doors to discussions so that we can collectively make a positive impact that will have a tremendous, positive ripple effect
You can check out Pat’s Harvard Business Review article, Diversity Efforts Fall Short Unless Employees Feel That They Belong, here.
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.
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.