by Julie B. Kampf
CEO & President
JBK Associates, Inc.
Let’s face it. Making diversity and inclusion a true corporate priority ranks among the toughest challenges confronting HR professionals today. From Fortune 20 companies to niche non-profits, the executive talent solutions team at JBK Associates sees three common red flags when our HR partners are encountering obstacles.
Not Talking About Diversity
Companies tend to either talk about diversity or they don’t. When they don’t, it’s probably because other priorities take hold. Even today, after years of data showing the business case for diversity, many companies don’t focus on diversity and inclusion the way they should, and in a faltering economy, it’s easy to put diversity initiatives on the back burner. A true diversity champion can help the forward-thinking leader who poses the question, “We’d like our diversity and inclusion efforts to be more robust, but how do we get there?” It starts with making diversity a priority, and that starts with talking about it.
[sws_pullquote_right]”Companies tend to either talk about diversity or they don’t. When they don’t, it’s probably because other priorities take hold.” [/sws_pullquote_right]
Focusing Only on Recruitment
Many companies put so much emphasis on getting a diverse workforce in the door that they neglect all that’s needed to keep that workforce. Onboarding, retention and leadership development all build a culture of inclusion, and that culture in turn becomes an effective recruiting tool. It’s no coincidence that the most common question candidates pose to my recruiting team is, “What can you tell me about the company culture?” Focus on creating the right culture−a culture where the best people want to work, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, where people are promoted on their merits, and where opportunities for success are available to all−and you’ll more easily attract the workforce you need to compete.
Requesting a Diverse Candidate, Not a Diverse Slate
In the rush to fill an open position, it’s easy to just look for a diverse candidate. But the companies that perform best don’t come to us asking for a diverse individual. They ask for a diverse slate because they understand that talent acquisition is not about filling a quota; it’s about attracting the best talent from a pool of outstanding individuals of diverse backgrounds who will ultimately contribute to the ROI. If you’re focusing on just one aspect of diversity whether it’s gender or ethnicity or age or any single aspect–you’ll miss the chance to build a culture in which everyone works better not despite their differences but because of them.
As globalization, demographic shifts and a shaky economy add to the pressures felt by every business, the challenges to HR professionals will only increase. But those who work through the obstacles may find the task not only among their most challenging but also their most rewarding.
Julie Kampf is CEO and President of JBK Associates, a certified woman-owned, award-winning executive talent solutions firm that specializes in building senior-level leadership across functions with a focus on diversity and inclusion.