Why Companies are Still Challenged by Creating a Diversity Pipeline

Diversity Pipeline

Turnover and job vacancies come at a high cost to companies. Deadlines and projects don’t wait while a company scrambles to find the best candidate as quickly as possible…for what hopefully will be a long and meaningful association. Having trusted relationships, an outreach network and strategy already in place is critical.

Building a Diverse Pipeline

Research consistently shows that a diverse workforce has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. However, “fostering a diverse workforce does not happen by accident,” says Elmer Dixon, President of Executive diversity Services. “Conscientiously building a pipeline of candidates that draws from a wide background of experience should be an integral part of your overall recruitment strategy.”

Developing your pipeline of candidates takes a long-range outlook and requires consistent relationship building over time. That strategy doesn’t change because of a commitment to diversity. The biased criticism when companies are committed to hiring for diversity is that you have to lower the standards of the job description or do something new and different to find diverse candidates. In fact, it may simply be a question of starting with your current strategy and broadening the reach.

“You want the best possible candidate to fill the needed role at your company. Casting a wide net in recruitment ensures that you will have the best opportunity to find that candidate,” says Dixon.

Word of Mouth

Even with all of the technology and automated assistance for hiring, the old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” still holds true. That’s where companies can leverage their current employee base for a super-charged connection into diverse communities.

Companies with an already robust Diversity & Inclusion program can draw from their existing infra-structure of programs. Turn to Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) for ideas on where to place announcements and postings. Members of ERG’s and employees overall may have relationships with their alma maters, profiles on social networks or other ideas for targeted media outreach.

“Create an incentive program for employees who recommend candidates. This further invests and engages current employees in your success,” says Dixon. Something as simple as inviting employees to post company job openings on their LinkedIn profiles can go a long way in connecting to candidates.

College and Partner Recruiting

Long-term strategies, such as building relationships with universities, is a tried and true pipeline for recruiting. Now is a time to look at your partner universities. Do you partner with universities that have a diverse student body? Is there a mix of private and public universities? The National Association of Colleges and Employers helps companies collaborate with targeted colleges for opportunities like on campus recruiting.

When a degree or special training is a requirement for a position, don’t rule out candidates based on which school they attended. Even something as seemingly natural as favoring extra-curricular activities or unpaid internships can be a disadvantage to candidates who were precluded from that because of needing to sustain part or even full-time jobs during school.

Professional and trade associations also offer opportunities to partner for ongoing recruitment. The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement is one such organization that can help. You may also join a coalition or create one if one doesn’t exist for your industry. For example, the Financial Services Pipeline (FSP) Initiative was founded in 2013 by a group of Chicago-based financial institutions that joined forces to address the lack of diversity in the financial services industry within Chicago. In this case the drive to grow and diversify clients and revenue was met with the question, why are there no brokers who look like me? A commitment to diversity has to be manifest to all of your stakeholders, from staff to management to the board and to your clients.

Follow-through with Engagement and Inclusion, that starts with Onboarding.

Engaging new employees starts from the get-go, with the onboarding process. Moving from low to high engagement can result in a 21% increase in performance.  According to The Great Place to Work Institute, Strongly engaging a non-committed staff member can decrease their probability of departure by 87%. Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5 to 2 times the employee’s annual salary. You want to make good hires and you want them to stay.

But also remember that new employees are excited about their new job. You have hired them for their skills and experience. The culture of the company goes way beyond ERG’s, mentoring or other programs that may fall under a D & I strategy. “It’s not just about the physical characteristics of identity such as race, gender or ethnicity. It’s about bringing in and integrating different perspectives,” says Dixon. Take a look at how new employees are being introduced to their colleagues and included in discussions across the organization.

Look for New Ideas, not just new faces

“New ideas, while exciting, can also bring conflict,” however, counsels Dixon. “It’s important to have real thought about how your company resolves conflict and engages in meaningful dialogue to build trust.” How does your company react to new ideas? How are new approaches considered and adopted?

“Even with strategies to diversify the talent pool, people are still hiring people who are a lot like the existing talent pool.” Often companies think they are hiring for diversity and end up replicating themselves due to unconscious style bias even when the person looks visibly different. Mere visible differences do not always equate to actual diversity. “Look for styles that are different as well, that will challenge companies to think differently,” says Dixon. “That’s where true power is.”

A final note

2017 is an employees’ market, says Glassdoor, a top job and recruiting site. Using IT as one example, Glassdoor sites “if in July 2009 there were 6.5 people per open spot, in October 2016 it was 1.5.”

Brand yourself as a top employer with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, develop your partnerships and best practices for recruiting, and candidates will come to you.

Check back for our upcoming article on the physiognomy and paradigm of unconscious bias in recruiting. And, if you need help in the meantime, give us a shout.

Photo Credit: WOCinTech Chat on Flickr

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