Page 2 of 4  < Back   Next >

Diversity Recruiting in a Failure: It's Time to Raise The Bar! [Cont]


In order to achieve a world-class diversity program, it is critical to transform the failures

of traditional DRP’s, as highlighted above, into organizational strengths and core competencies. Just like the creation and implementation of any other strategy that is designed to increase the competitiveness of a firm, this transformation involves both internal and external aspects, as well as immediate and longer-term activities.  In this section we outline five action steps for jump-starting your DRP to achieve immediate improvements. Later we recommend five longer-term actions to achieve a more consistency in program results.


Step 1) – Articulating clear goals for the DRP

DRP’s for years have suffered from a lack of clearly specified goals and objectives.  Because of this, DRP’s have not been aligned with most organization’s overall plans for attaining recruiting excellence.  Clarifying the goals for the DRP and communicating them throughout the entire organization is an important step in achieving both internal and external objectives.

Internally, recruiters, managers and all levels of employees need to be made aware of the importance and function of the DRP to the organization.  This helps to secure buy-in from key internal players, and lends validity and support to the DRP. This support is necessary when making resource allocation decisions and setting broader strategic objectives for the company.  By articulating clear goals, much of the skepticism and lack of respect that currently surround DRP’s (due to secrecy) can be dissolved.

Making goals explicit also has important benefits for the organization externally. If all organizational members fully understand the role and priorities of the DRP, then they can better assist the organization in their efforts to identify key diversity candidates, take advantage of referral opportunities, and ultimately help in selling and closing the deal with prospective candidates. The bottom line is that a DRP that is fully understood and supported by all organizational members can better achieve its goals for the organization.

Specifically, organizations need to:

  • Clarify and outline the strategic goals and objectives of the overall recruiting program
  • Design and carry-out the DRP to mirror and support the strategic corporate goals

Step 2) - Building the business case

Many diversity programs are well supported by top management but often for the wrong reasons. Some do it to avoid legal issues (we might be sued) while others do it in order to be "politically correct".  Executives give speeches, announce diversity targets and some executives even have the top diversity manager report directly to them in the hope that it will send a message that diversity recruiting is important.  While all of these reasons have value, if you really want your diversity programs to be successful you have to go beyond these traditional arguments and make the economic case to managers for having a diverse workforce.

The most powerful and effective arguments that can be made for excellence in diversity recruiting relate to the business and dollar impact that diversity recruiting can have on the bottom line of the organization. Does having a workforce with diverse backgrounds, experiences and ideas have impact on the firm's profitability? The answer is a resounding yes! The following list contains the prime factors that can be used to demonstrate the dollar impact of having a diverse workforce. By looking at the many business impacts of diversity, the potential financial impacts on a firm become clearer. This impact will continue to increase as the previously "minority" population becomes a "majority" due to population shifts. At that time, excellence in diversity recruiting no longer becomes an option.  We would argue that this time has already been reached and that excellence in diversity recruiting is a business necessity!

How diversity can positively impact a business:

  • Achieving excellence through access to quality - Diverse thinking enhances evaluation and problem-solving ability, in part due to different frames of reference
  • Product sales - Product sales increase as a workforce reflects the interests and needs of the customer base, which for most organizations these days is globally dispersed
  • Product features - Having diversity on product development teams helps ensure that products have features that are desired and can be easily utilized by more people
  • Advertising and marketing become more effective - having diverse people collaborate on the design of our advertising campaign results in a more effective campaign because the ads can be understood by and reach a culturally broader audience
  • Globalization demands it - As companies become more global it is essential that everyone think and act with a broader understanding of the different ways to solve problems and sell products
  • Employees and stockholders may demand it - Diversity is one of the key elements that attracts and retains top performers.  In a changing world where more diverse people own stock, expectations for a diverse workforce increase.
  • Customer service - Employees from diverse backgrounds better understand and provide service to our diverse customers

Step 3 Rely heavily on referrals

DRP's almost universally underutilize referrals as a primary source for identifying candidates. This underutilization often stems from an unfounded perception that referrals cannot produce diversity candidates. Many HR professionals have traditionally assumed (falsely so) that referral programs have a negative adverse impact on diversity and as a result, they have minimized the usage of referrals. The facts don't support that conclusion (in fact referral programs are highly recommended by the EEOC).

These misconceptions and practices are unfortunate because many firms have found that the best recruiting source is almost always referrals.  Unfortunately, many referral programs are also limited in scope and rely solely on employee driven actions.  However, referrals can be a powerful tool for DRP’s, when managed effectively by building your internal brand as a "great place to work" through frequent internal communications in order to increase or re-energize your employee referrals.  If you expand the definition of “who” can refer candidates you'll get dramatically improved results.

Referral programs differ widely, depending on the level of search (entry-level vs. mid/late career, for example).  Across these different levels, some of the best referral tools include:

  • Standard employee referral programs – Employees play an important role in identifying diversity candidates, as they are constantly out and about in the industry.  Diversity referrals can be improved if all communications relating to the referral program highlight the importance the firm places on diversity referrals.  Additional improvement can occur through offering increased incentives for any diversity referrals, by giving managers diversity referral targets, and by specifically targeting departments that currently have high diversity populations.
  • Diverse employees – Diverse employees usually know other diverse individuals, so it’s important to specifically ask these individuals for help.  Diverse employees can also help identify organizations and sources with high diversity referral potential.
  • Reference referrals - Ask the references of diversity candidates and hires if they know other excellent diverse individuals.  If non-diverse hires happen to have diverse references they can also be an excellent source.  Be sure to ask all of these references to continually provide you with names.  You should also consider rewarding them for their referrals.
  • Executive search – Recruiters (whether they’re currently working with your firm or not) are excellent at identifying potential candidates.  If you reward them, they will provide you with the names of diverse individuals (whether those candidates are currently looking for a job or not) that you can add to your database.  Finally, you can offer incentives to search firms (that are under contract) for successful diversity hires.
  • Former employees – Keep in touch with former employees and let them know about the high priority that you place on diversity.  Reward them for both providing names and for actual hires.  In addition, don’t forget to track and try to re-recruit any diverse individuals who have left your firm.
  • Customer referrals - Encourage or reward customers for referrals.  This can also be an effective tool for directly recruiting diverse customers you have.
  • Consultant/ vendor/ contractor referrals - Anyone who works with your firm and that knows your needs can be a referral source.
  • Community, religious and neighborhood leaders - Ask for their help and where appropriate, reward them or their organizations for their assistance in identifying candidates.