Today, most organizations are dissatisfied with their ability to meet diversity recruiting objectives. This is particularly discouraging news, because this failure to meet diversity goals does not stem from the lack of effort.
Many of these organizations feel that they are trapped within a cycle that prevents them from making much progress against their diversity recruiting objectives. In trying to break this cycle, many stakeholders focus on getting more funding or building dedicated teams to improve diversity recruiting objectives. The solution is not about throwing more money at the problem or finding the right structure. The real problem is the lack of organizational commitment.
Organizational commitment has two parts: first, laying the foundation for diversity across the organization, and second, operationalizing the commitment to diversity in the recruiting process. While there is much recruiting can do within its own four walls, it should be careful to avoid the trap of attempting to drive a transformational diversity initiative in the absence of senior commitment. Conversely, senior focus will falter without support of the recruiting team, which creates the process to sustain the commitment to diversity in practice.
Most of the recruiting departments that successfully bring more diverse talent into their organizations lament that their efforts are wasted due to low retention. In some cases, this churn is significant enough to hamstring or halt future recruiting efforts. It is the level of organizational commitment which will determine whether an organization can both recruit and retain diverse candidates. However, forestalling the potential pitfalls caused by low organizational commitment to diversity requires more than just a senior-level mandate and a statement of commitment.
First, leaders must demonstrate their own conviction by investing their time in diversity initiatives. This role modeling sends a powerful message to employees and candidates that diversity is not a superficial mandate but a true business imperative. Executives that model these desired behaviors can serve as examples of those behaviors’ importance in enabling a culture of development.
Although commitment to diversity must begin with the senior leadership, it must also be disseminated throughout the organization, because senior management’s buy-in is not sufficient to create the day-to-day atmosphere necessary to promote the retention of diverse employees. Therefore, leaders must directly communicate the business case behind the organization’s diversity focus to all employees to foster their commitment. By enfranchising the entire organization, leaders can help drive a cultural change that will influence retention and attraction.
The leadership role is the key, and it should not get derailed with leadership changes. It is essential that diversity management belongs to the entire organization and not just to the diversity champion, otherwise the momentum is going to be lost when the champion moves on.
Last, a fundamental challenge to recruiting diverse talent is the limited number of available candidates. All organizations are trying to recruit from the finite talent pool, creating a micro talent war characterized by fierce competition. In addition, when organizations are searching for talent with specific qualifications like MBA, Computer Engineering, the supply is even smaller. In competing for diverse talent, you have to give the candidates a compelling reason to join.
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