Why your search firm should be focused on supporting your efforts to attract diverse talent. By Tory Clark and Larry Griffin, co-founders and partners,...
Why your search firm should be focused on supporting your efforts to attract diverse talent.

By Tory Clark and Larry Griffin, co-founders and partners, Bridge Partners LLC



If you are a human resources or diversity and inclusion professional, we imagine that you have probably had at least one of the following recruiting interactions with hiring managers:

“We don’t need to focus on diversity recruiting—we are already diverse.”There is no growing organization today that cannot make a strong business case for focusing on diversity recruitment. You may see diversity in the organization when you “crunch the numbers,” but do you have the very best possible talent at the senior-most levels?

“The hiring manager is 100% behind the broad diversity recruitment initiative…but maybe it’s not the best approach for this search.” The comments range from “It never works—the talent isn’t out there” to “Diversity recruitment means the process always takes longer.” These assumptions can be disproved by a solid business case for diversity and a strong diversity-focused recruiting team/partner.

“The talent isn’t out there.” Yes, it is. Diversity recruiting requires effort and focus. Obstacles to desired results include:

  • An inadequate diversity outreach effort. Building the capability to identify high-caliber minority candidates and developing a positive relationship with them is a process, not a one-off event. It is necessary to build your brand as an employer of choice and invest time in understanding the market.
  • A recruiting team/search partner that “hopes to come across” minority candidates, rather than actively pursuing that talent. While in-house recruiters and traditional search firms may have the best intentions, they are often not in a position to prioritize diversity. As with any other area of your business, you will be best served by experts.
  • A focus on the path of least resistance—recruiting candidates who are already looking for their next career move, rather than those who may be “below the radar.” Reach out and recruit your candidates—if they don’t come to you, you need to go after them, or use a search firm that can effectively do it on your behalf.


Clients across all sectors are requesting that their traditional search partners include high-caliber, diverse candidates in search shortlists; unfortunately, in many cases, their requests are being met with limited or no success.

There is a reason for this—many search firms view driving diversity into a shortlist as something that is done “upon request,” not as a matter of course. When we founded Bridge Partners LLC as a diversity-focused search firm a decade ago, we struggled with the idea that we may not be needed in five years—certainly not in ten—as diversity became naturally embedded in executive search at all levels and across all functions. We were wrong; the need for an innovative search firm that operates at the senior level and focuses on inclusivity has never been greater.

Critical to our success is our development of a distinct search practice and methodology that can identify, approach, and attract diverse executives. We are a diverse team committed to the advancement of diverse professionals in senior roles; and we have years of experience building relationships with these coveted, high-caliber executives and addressing the specific concerns they have when contemplating a move.

By leveraging a proven, research-driven methodology, a robust and continually updated database of senior executives, and a strong and actively cultivated network that we constantly develop and access, we have an significant edge in attracting the most qualified executives and building an inclusive candidate shortlist.

Tory Clark and Larry Griffin are co-founders of and partners in Bridge Partners LLC, a retained executive search firm that specializes in leadership and senior-level recruitment, both in the U.S. and internationally. Learn more at www.bridgepartnersllc.com.


  • Harold M. Frost, III, Ph.D.

    May 25, 2014 #1 Author

    Thank you, Tory Clark and Larry Griffin, co-founders of Bridge Partners LLC, who claim to “have a[n] significant edge in attracting the most qualified executives and building an inclusive candidate shortlist.” In response, this comment takes off on your statement to ”Reach out and recruit your candidates—if they don’t come to you, you need to go after them, or use a search firm that can effectively do it on your behalf.”

    That approach of reaching out to capture, rather than awaiting arrival of, candidates for senior level positions may be key in helping to level the D&I playing field within corporate America when it comes to the workforce minority of the mentally disabled whom many wrongly regard as the lepers of the 21st century. This wrong regard can be shared by the very HR specialists, managers and corporate officers that are in the loop in the client’s hiring process. Their attitudes and beliefs can act as redoubts of resistance to hiring actually the best qualified candidates, for there can be an opportune meeting of corporate need and opportunity in the senior candidate who may thus be senior in age level within the workforce demographic of career longevity from entry-level position to normal retirement.

    That is, for example, the experience needed to serve at the top levels of corporate management can devolve in turn into considering an executive in his or her mid 50s, which can also be the very age range when that person as a late bloomer really starts to shine with stellar achievement performance. Actually, it is a reasonable hypothesis that executives and other senior-level workers who have a history under the ADA of 1990 of mental disability acquired in the workplace – and are still in the workforce — are just the very ones who will bloom late in their career cycles as they not only courageously work out their personal problems but also then surpass non-disabled workers in their uniquely battle-tested and success-validated self-knowledge and personal toolkits needed to find out how they learn best and what they can do best.

    Thus, at this late career stage, as mentioned a client’s need meets up with opportunity of your firm. Key to this connection being made, however, is self-awareness of the mentally disabled candidate executive who has arrived at not only a sense of what had happened to her or him at work but is able to express that in appropriate ways in and in acceptable forums. For example, that person’s CV or resume may be in a non-traditional format that not only discloses a major disability such as a mental one but also organizes the material of education, experience, achievements, awards, honors, and so on in such a way to indicate that underlying that disability is a major strength or set of KSA that he or she had overlooked and had not marketed nor exploited in the early stages of his or her career — but now embraces at mid-career levels (for instance).

    Such ‘calling cards’ may never make it to the desk of the company owner or CEO seeking to hire a key team member of his inner circle due to filtering practices of managers at lower tiers of management. Thus, if your firm found a way to act as a clearinghouse for such CV’s and resumes of disabled senior executives who have benefitted from their histories, to thus short-circuit unproductive HR practices such as the aforementioned, then, finally, a connection can be made across a disenabling gap in the recruiting process so that such disabled persons can now come as very attractive job candidates to the attention of the corporate decision makers that you deal with.


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    October 6, 2014 #2 Author

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