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

Step 4† - Offer incentives, recognition and rewards

Another critical weakness that impacts diversity recruiting is a lack of rewards. Few

companies offer specific rewards for identifying or hiring diverse people. If a firm suffers from a lack of clearly specified organizational goals for diversity recruiting programs, as discussed in Step 1 above, then a similar failure to reward specifically for diversity recruiting comes as no surprise! However, this lack of significant rewards for recruiting diverse candidates means that managers and recruiters fail to focus on it.

Some of the most effective rewards span the management, recruiting and employee ranks, and include:

  • Recruiters must be rewarded for great diversity recruiting. For some curious reason firms have refused to give recruiters extra incentives for identifying diversity candidates or for successfully recruiting diverse individuals.† If you follow the old adage "what you measure takes away all doubt about what you want done" and what you want done gets done faster when itís rewarded, then measuring and rewarding recruiters for diversity hires becomes essential for program success. Some might argue that rewarding diversity recruiting has an adverse impact (reverse discrimination on the non-diverse population). Of course there is always the possibility that you "might be sued" but in reality that probability is essentially zero while the benefits of great diversity recruiting can mean millions of dollars in revenues.
  • Managers must be rewarded for great diversity recruiting - A significant portion of all individual hiring managers pay (5 to 10 percent) should be based on diversity recruiting and retention results. In addition, senior management should have their pay based on producing results. Finally, the director of recruiting and the VP of HR both need a large portion of their pay tied to diversity recruiting success
  • Give employees a small reward for identifying the names of diversity candidates. Just "finding the names" of diversity prospects is worth some small reward, so don't forget to incent people just for adding names to your diversity prospect database.

Step 5 - Implement innovative diversity recruiting tools and strategies

Often the heads of diversity programs are not experienced recruiters. As a result they tend to use very traditional tools.† Because the world of recruiting and the way that people conduct job searches has changed dramatically in the last few years, it is important to constantly explore new approaches and strategies.† Many diversity programs have developed a bad habit of copying each other. This may be a safe strategy, but it also means that any particular company's approach is unlikely to vary much from its competitors.† In recruiting, though, we know that the tools are most effective when you're the only one using them.† There is a significant advantage to innovating.

Ways to innovate your recruiting strategies and tools include:

  • Differentiate yourself - In order to be successful you must avoid the cookie cutter approach.† Because inexperienced recruiters run many diversity programs, they are forced to develop and improve their programs by benchmarking (copying) other recruiting programs.† The result is often a bland "inside the box" approach that is not only marginally effective but also fails to give your individual firm any competitive advantage. The key to success in recruiting is to differentiate, not copy, so develop unique and distinctive programs, slogans and approaches.
  • Utilize technology - Currently employed people of all kinds have widespread access to the Internet so identifying diverse candidates on their personal web page at niche Internet sites can be very effective. Unfortunately, most diversity programs over-rely on the more traditional face-to-face recruiting sources like job fairs and on-campus and diversity events. Face-to-face events are expensive and because there are only occur infrequently they can have only marginal impact while Internet recruiting can identify candidates everyday. Specifically, screening videos, profiles of diversity employees, frequently asked questions and a listing of diversity awards are all easily utilized. Finally, visit candidateís personal web pages and the chat rooms they frequent.
  • Less emphasis on the legal - Getting managers to buy in to diversity recruiting has been a long battle. Unfortunately most of the arguments have been focused on the threat of a lawsuit rather than logic or economics.† As result, many diversity managers are accustomed to using the law as a "club", which turns off hiring managers. Ironically, perhaps as a result of this long tradition, most diversity recruiters are paranoid about being sued. The net result of this paranoia is a culture of conservative approach to recruiting and an overemphasis on the law, documentation and avoiding any potential lawsuits.† What is needed is a more balanced approach that calculates the risks but also calculates the benefits of great diversity recruiting.† Legal advice should be sought in identifying the realistic probabilities and costs related to being sued.
  • Increase the focus on "closing the sale" - Most recruiting programs (and diversity programs are no different) focus their efforts on finding and screening candidates.† That's fine if you are targeting people that are not high demand, however it's almost impossible to keep top performing diverse professionals hidden. The difficult part of diversity recruiting is not finding or even screening, itís selling or convincing the candidate. In order to "close" these candidates you have to do your research into their job selection criteria. You must find out what criteria they will use to make their decision and then convince them that your job meets each of their decision criteria.

In order to be successful, DRP programs must gather data on what diverse candidates expect.† Managers need to be educated and trained on how to close diversity candidates. Managers should also be given "side-by-side" offer comparison sheets which allow them to see how our offer stacks up against other offers a diverse candidate is likely to get. Finally, whenever a diverse candidate accepts or rejects our offer we need to do a post-mortem to understand what they liked and what they didn't.† It is absolutely essential to actively follow-through on recruiting efforts and follow-up with candidates, once offers and/or hires have been made.

  • Brand building - Unfortunately many diversity recruiting managers (again because of their lack of training and experience in technical recruiting) don't understand the need to build the company's brand (image) as a great place to work for diverse people.† Building a positive external brand can positively impact both the quantity and quality of diverse and non-diverse applicants alike by increasing the companies name recognition, visibility and image. Since many diversity communities are tightly knit, word-of-mouth (a.k.a. viral marketing) is a relatively cheap and effective way of letting prospective applicants know what we have to offer.

DRP's can build their brand by getting on great place to work lists. The "lists" with the most impact include both of Fortune's lists (diversity and "best place to" work) as well as the list in Working Woman magazine. The second element in diversity branding involves having your "people management" and diversity practices " talked about" in business and professional publications that your target audience reads. The third element of branding involves employee referrals.† Having thousands of employees acting as evangelists telling their friends and acquaintances on a daily basis about your firm's great diversity and people practices is one of the most effective marketing tools in recruiting

Longer term action steps (6-10)

Step 6 - Hire and train world-class recruiters

To develop an excellent recruiting capability in your firm, itís necessary to counter two myths head-on.† First, not everyone can be an effective recruiter. Second, coming from a diverse background is not enough to make you a great diversity recruiter.† Excellent recruiters are aggressive individuals with strong "sales" skills. Our recommendation is to hire experienced recruiting professionals that currently possess these traits rather than trying to develop them. Some have had success in taking diverse individuals and training them to be recruiters but unless they are really aggressive individuals, don't expect immediate results.

Let's face facts.† Recruiting diverse individuals does require an understanding of diversity but it turns out that the essential skills for successful diversity recruiting go beyond understanding diversity. Most people in diversity recruiting functions are diverse but they're often not really professional recruiters. Although results vary, in general, recruiters that are diverse produce no better diversity recruiting results than non-diverse recruiters that are ranked as top performers. In fact, inexperienced diverse recruiters produce significantly weaker results than experienced recruiters that understand diversity but are not themselves diverse.† Unfortunately, getting both is difficult and expensive. First of all, the combination is rare, and second, those that have it are in high demand. In some cases, heads of diversity recruiting see diversity recruiting as an opportunity to bring more diverse people into the firm.† While that might be a desirable goal overall, it can produce mediocre results in diversity recruiting.† If you expect dynamic results this is not an area where you can afford to have people "learn on the job".

The skills required to recruit excellent diverse individuals are the same skills required to recruit any excellent individual.† These skills include a "find a way" attitude, knowledge of effective recruiting techniques, experience using marketing research tools and sales ability. What results in successful diversity recruiting is the ability of these excellent recruiters to apply their experience and expertise to the specific case of diverse individuals, just as they would to any other high-potential candidate that has been identified.

There are specific approaches you can take to attract and retain headhunter type recruiters:

  • The most aggressive and effective approach for building a recruiting team is to identify and hire the best diversity in your industry.† Ask your managers to identify the excellent diversity recruiters that contact them.† Ask your own recruiters for the names of excellent diversity recruiters they know.† Poach the best recruiters from search firms. †And last, ask your diverse employees of the names of all effective recruiters they have known.
  • No one knows how to sell people better than salespeople so be sure and involve your sales force in your diversity recruiting efforts.† These are aggressive outgoing people that talk to hundreds of people every week.† Consider converting some of your best salespeople into recruiters because if they are trained and incented correctly, they make excellent recruiters.† Also ask your sales force to help train your recruiters in the latest sales techniques.† Because salespeople are constantly meeting hundreds of people each week, itís smart to encourage them to actively participate in the employee referral program.
  • There's little argument that the best recruiters in the world come out of executive search.† They are aggressive and results oriented.† Unfortunately, there are few diverse people in executive search and even fewer of those make it into the corporate diversity arena because of the pay differential. If you want the very best, be prepared to poach from executive search firms and to pay top dollar.

Step 7 - Extensive market research is needed

DRPís often fail to utilize the latest market research and sales techniques and apply them to diversity recruiting.† Market research can contribute to DRPís in two important ways - identifying candidate demographics and identifying their job selection decision criteria. A significant portion of recruiting is really about identifying what candidates need and then "selling them" on the notion that your company will satisfy those needs.† As a result, it is important to start with a basic understanding of "who" you are trying to sell.† Market research helps you understand the basic demographics of your target candidates.† Knowing the demographics makes it possible to easily "find" diversity candidates.† In addition, market research allows you to identify what these diverse candidates expect in a job through the use of surveys and focus groups.† We estimate that as much as half of the diversity candidates that are lost are as a result of poor market research.

The steps that diversity recruiting managers need to take include:

  • Identify diverse individuals within your organization and find out "how can I find you again". This is a process of developing a behavioral profile of your current diverse employees based on the premise that it can be used to find other diverse people within that job function and our industry.
  • Conduct market research to identify the common demographic characteristics of the diverse population you are targeting (drawn from your current diverse top performers and your targeted candidates).† It's important to know precisely what they read, what they watch and where they go in order to design recruiting programs that can effectively reach them. Specifically look at conferences they attend, organizations they join, web sites they visit and chat rooms they frequent. This generally requires hiring an outside firm or working in collaboration with your advertising department (which may already have this data).
  • Identify the specific "decision criteria" used by diverse candidates when they choose an industry and a company to select a new job. Great recruiting can only occur based on a foundation of excellent market research.† Recruiting is similar to sales.† You're trying to sell a product (in this case a job) to someone. Great market research that gathers demographic, focus group and survey information can provide information you need to identify key decision criteria and provide the necessary information to close the deal.
  • Identify "networks" within a function or your industry.† Start by identifying any key "opinion leaders" or well-connected individuals that can serve as advisers or even referral sources for identifying diverse candidates.†