When 175 CEOs of some of the largest companies in the U.S.–including Fortune 500 juggernauts like Cisco, HP, Home Depot, Staples, Target and Walmart–support an initiative, you know it’s important.
That’s what happened when this group of executives formed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion in 2017, the largest and most prominent initiative ever assembled to promote diversity in the workplace.
Diversity is a competitive differentiator in the marketplace and an engine for economic growth.
Here’s what recent McKinsey research has to say:
- Companies who rank in the top 25% for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have a balance sheet that’s more positive than their respective national industry medians, while companies who rank in the top 25% for gender diversity are 15% more likely to beat their respective industry medians.
- There’s a direct correlation between racial and ethnic diversity and financial performance. Every 10% of additional racial and ethnic diversity that a company adds to its senior executive team returns a .8% rise in earnings.
- A diverse workforce is more able to develop products for, serve and market to a greater share of the consumer marketplace. The more your workforce mirrors the marketplace, the easier it will be for the company to reach out effectively to those customers.
So why then, are we making little progress on diversity hiring? It’s simple. We aren’t trying hard enough.
As recruiters, we have the ability, indeed an obligation, to be part of the solution. Diversity is hiring people from underrepresented backgrounds who will enrich your workplace and improve your business.
Our firm SPMB presents candidate slates the include diversity candidates, however our client may define it. It can be ethnic, economic, race or gender. Companies most successful in creating a diverse workforce are those that approach diversity hiring purposefully and patiently. They have a strategy–they don’t leave it to chance.
Here are some best practices to increase the success of finding, and ultimately hiring, diverse executives:
- Seek-out referrals from people who themselves are from a particular minority; they are likely to have a good network of friends or coworkers like them.
- Look at alumni from schools with the highest percentage of diversity students. There are schools that attract a homogenous student body. A few examples are:
- HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) such as Morehouse College or Howard University
- Single-sex schools such as Barnard, Columbia College, Wellesley, or Smith
- Schools for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, including Gallaudet or the National Technical Institute for the Deaf
- Develop relationships with affinity groups; most have a professional networking arm. Examples include the National Society of Hispanic Professionals, National Black MBA Associationor the American Association of People with Disabilities.
- Look into organizations such as SEO Scholars (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity) that has been providing educational and career support to young people from underserved and underrepresented communities for over 50 years–that’s 50 years’ worth of amazing alumni to seek out.
- Incentivize your employees. If you have an employee referral system, then reward more for diversity candidates.
Above all, take your time. Avoid the temptation to do a quick hire if the first slate doesn’t include the breadth of candidates you’ve said you want. In most cases having the role open a little longer won’t pose a real risk to the business, whereas a lack of diversity in leadership will most certainly have a detrimental effect.
If you want a diverse workforce, start today. If not now, then when?