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The Profitability of Diversity Staffing

by H. Martin de'Campo

What if I told you that there was a way for you to help in multiple “mission critical”

areas of your company during your recruiting efforts? What if I said that as a recruiter, you could also effectively and positively impact the depth and wellness levels of all your co-workers in company wide? And finally, what if I said that recruitment strategy would also increase the productivity and profit margins of your company as well … would you try this powerful staffing resource and strategy?

GROW DEPTH & QUALITY … NOT JUST QUANTITY!

As recruiters, we know its one thing to bring in the necessary quantity of people possessing the talent we seek, however it’s altogether different to consciously staff up your organization with depth, character and other qualitative people attributes. Yet, as recruiters building a “deeper” more qualitative organization with value-adding character and professionalism is and should be seen as one of our paramount priorities and responsibilities … I dare say, right up there with our need to staff up particular levels of headcount.

Attracting and developing the best talent in organizations is priority one. This is why diversity staffing is being integrated into the business imperative of the most competitive and successful organizations. Yet, this is really funny, particularly when you consider all of today’s critics calling for “the end of affirmative action,” even so, diversity is flourishing. The fact is, today’s most successful companies are still teeming with talk of diversity ­ diversity roundtables, diversity initiatives, diversity task forces, diversity seminars, marketing, etc, etc. Today’s economic truth is that all those who fall under the diversity umbrella ­ minorities, women, those with disabilities, and others ­ are more in demand and visible than ever before.

WHY IS DIVERSITY SO NEEDED?

Four reasons why: 1) the world is simply becoming more globalized via the Internet and world markets that intersect daily, 2) the US labor market is tighter than it’s ever been before, 3) the marketing of products and services has become culturally and demographically segmented, 4) finally, economic consolidation. All one needs to do is turn on the TV to witness one company buying or “merging” with other companies half way around the world. As such, corporations more than ever before, need diverse peoples and their intellect in order to ease and facilitate such strategic consolidations and mergers. These is where recruiters must take the lead and broaden their talent search for people that possess such diversities -- diversities of mind, culture, experience, education, background, orientation? disabilities?, the broadness and wealth of your approach in the recruitment function (or limitations) are really up to you. Start off by defining diversity according to your organization. Top corporate managers throughout the U.S. realize that diversity must be defined in far broader and more inclusive terms, including age, ethnic origin, gender, personal styles, culture, orientation, and beliefs.

OBSTACLES TO DIVERSITY

Diversity staffing is a tough strategy to architect and deploy. Yet anything worthwhile is never easy. In part 2 of this article we’ll be talking about the many successful solutions that other corporations have effectively utilized when deploying diversity staffing efforts.

For now though, I’d like to address what perhaps is the most common obstacle to organizations applying diversity staffing efforts. Aside from the obvious deterrents such as, too difficult to deploy, inexperienced and ineffective diversity knowledge base and the “what for?” syndrome, the most pervasive misunderstanding that prevents effective diversity staffing from ever taking off is the lack of knowledge about diversities’ intrinsic and positive effect on a companies profit margins. Diversity staffing initiative and profit is almost never linked! Unfortunately, rather than being seen as a measurable economic, management and profit based business tool, diversity staffing is often misunderstood and plagued with jaded politics and philosophies. We’ve all heard them, “Isn’t diversity staffing the same as affirmative action?” “Won’t we be accused of reverse discrimination?” “It’s never been proven to work…has it?”

3 MAJOR BENEFITS THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that modern diversity programs are an all encompassing “cure-all” for globalized organizations; these programs are indeed difficult to deploy and their quantitative impact not always easy to measure (consider that a majority of these programs are new). However, with the advent of this new and more globalized economy, corporations intuitively comprehend that when managed correctly, diversity creates a more entrepreneurial, socially charged, cohesive company ­ ultimately it simply gives greater competitive advantage.

Thus, the most competitive organizations, with global perspectives have successfully deployed diversity and LINKED it to bottom line results. “There has definitely been a shift,” explains Sandra Salinas, manager of worldwide staffing with Redherring Communications (a leading Internet economy and culture magazine). “Corporations, particularly those with emerging technology products recruit minorities as a global business imperative, rather than out of some sort of EEOC or state compliance requirement.” Furthermore, she adds that, “Having a representation of talent and cultures from all walks of life is critical for anyone that intends to grow and retain an entrepreneurial spirit and productivity … besides it makes for awesome office interaction, not to mention parties!”

1 ­ EMPLOYEE WELLNESS & DEVELOPMENT

Indeed, an increase in employee wellness and development are typically the most noticeable positive impacts reported when diversity is being successfully deployed. Which is very critical when considering that the desired trend in today’s modern, technology oriented economy is to “gray” the lines between work and play. These organizations see wonderful developments occur naturally within diverse workforces. Intrinsically the social fabric of the company becomes more tightly knit. Some of the positive signs that reveal effectively deployed diversity can be company clubs springing up quickly, altruistic benevolent campaigns and events becoming more common and finally light-hearted humor becoming a more common response to office problems that typically will result in deeper employee “wounds” for non-diverse workforces. Heck, who says you can’t have fun at work? Yet, no matter how fun loving the social-buzz is in the air, this is not the sole result that motivates most corporations. The motivating factor about the “social-buzz” is that it also brings with it increased productivity, time at work, creativity, lower absenteeism (vacations and sick leave), and as has been said… better partying! In a nutshell: More money!

2 ­ MEASURABLE PRODUCTIVITY & QUALITY GAINS

Still not convinced? Consider the logic these corporations are using: employees who are more happy at work, are simply at work more… more time at work, produces more work, which translates to more products or services generated, more products or services generated inevitably leads to increased profit margins. However, having a “happy-camper” as an employee doesn’t just lead to more time at work or more work produced. In many cases, diverse heterogeneous talent has also produced the benchmark levels of quality work that many companies have sought for so long. William C. Steere, CEO of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals adds, “Some people believe that seeking diversity automatically leads to excellence, but I think that focusing on excellence inevitably leads to diversity.” This statement is indicative of what most goods and services companies have been motivated by during their diversity campaigns.

As a principal consultant of Humanatek Consulting Group, we have directly assisted in or designed the rapid growth of over 18 emerging technology start-ups. During these projects, we consistently noticed positive quality impacts on the goods and services of client companies when the workforce developed to a more heterogeneous composition. Today’s companies have clients all over the world. Diversified companies mean that diversified clients will now obtain excellent customer services and products that represent the client culturally, economically and socially. Diversity is all about client sensitivity and compatibility and about buying those goods and services when and how you want them.

3 ­ HUMAN CAPITAL RETENTION

Quite noticeable in today’s economy is the fluidity of talented people moving between one company and another. This fluidity has made the effort to retain top talent for an extended period of time in one organization very, very difficult. It used to be the case that to stay in one company for many years was a virtue to be imitated and admired. However, today’s market boom opens much opportunity and demand for top professional talent in all industries. This makes the temptation to “jump ship” after only one or two years of employment, almost too hard to resist.

There is no question that replacing employees that have left after a short period of time is extremely costly to companies. Today’s companies are taking major financial blows, by the costly ramifications that ensue due to rapid and incessant “brain-drain:” production delays, employee replacement expenses, diminished corporate knowledge base, loss of intellectual property, diminished corporate morale, re-training expenses, etc.

The good news is that not only has diversity been leveraged to attract the best most heterogeneous talent, it’s also been harnessed to retain talent and corporate compositional integrity. Although employee retention could be a separate article onto itself, it’s worth mentioning that diverse work environments encourage appreciation for all people and their differences (not just tolerance), diverse customer focus, entrepreneurial innovation, community, quality performance, progressive and inclusive human interaction and communication, and an overall work environment where all can thrive.

Obviously, a successful diversity program cannot be rolled out strictly by the staffing arm of the organization, it must be comprehensively designed, supported and deployed. However, my advice to recruiters is that they take the initial action and become the instigators of an effective shift towards diversity staffing. Who knows, ultimately, you may succeed in making your company more competitive than ever before by diversifying its workforce and by positively impacting and resolving a whole host of other profit sensitive matters.

In part 2 of this series we’ll discuss the many successful practical solutions that corporations have already effectively utilized and benchmarked when deploying diversity staffing efforts

About the Author: H. Martin de'Campo is the managing principal and founder of the professional human capital firm: www.Humanatek.com, Inc.. He is also a popular speaker, author, commentator, and veteran human capitalist. Humanatek designs, deploys, and manages advanced human capital and staffing solutions Humanatek empowers companies to attract, develop, and retain talent rapidly, strategically, and comprehensively. Humanatek's services have successfully converged total quality management, benchmark staffing methodologies, and computer/Internet technologies to render a new, novel and now patented approach to staffing, executive search and HR consulting.