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Diversity recruiting; part 1

Diversity recruiting; part 1

By H. Martin de'Campo, managing principal and founder of professional human capital firm Humanatek, Inc. who can be contacted at mailto:

1. Introduction

Warning: When I talk about diversity, culture, and business, I tend to get a bit passionate. You see, culture and diversity are at the very core of who I am.

Let me explain. I am not only a person of "colour" based on my skin tone. I am also a person of "colour" based on my creative mind, my resourceful approaches to staffing problems, and my attitude toward work and leisure. I am a person of "colour" even in the foods I eat - I love variety! If this sounds like you, then you've understood my point, and that is that anyone can be a person of "colour." If "colour" means creativity, outside-the-box thinking, and social innovation, then all of us have the potential of being people of "colour."

This is important, because being a person of "colour" in your approach to a diversity staffing strategy is tantamount to the successful design and deployment of such an imperative. But what gets me most excited about "colour," and a corporate staff that reflects the business world's diversity, is the fact that I have seen it work, and work effectively - even profitably! I know first hand the almost "electric" synergies and wonderful investment returns that diverse human capital can render.

2. Electric synergy? Wonderful investment? Where? How?

In this article, I'll discuss four steps that I have found are critical and necessary if a recruiter is to be a successful catalyst for diversity in their company.

Obviously, architecting and deploying an effective diversity staffing initiative is a deep, complex social programme that is better detailed beyond the limited confines of one article. Thus, in the spirit of brevity, this article will summarise the four major elements that are so crucial to a successful diversity staffing campaigns - elements that every recruiter should use when planning or deploying a comprehensive diversity initiative and pose some key questions about each. In future articles, I'll do my best to answer these questions and dig even deeper into each of these elements to show you how to really put them to use.

3. The four ingredients of a successful diversity staffing strategy

The four steps that recruiters and HR professionals need to take to successfully deploy a diversity staffing strategy are as follows:

Secure your company's leadership commitment; be prepared to educate and train all those employees and hiring managers who will participate in the diversity initiative; design and solidify the diversity processes and protocols that will be necessary in your diversity initiative;
Make sure to spend the necessary time to plan out an appropriate diverse candidate sourcing strategy.

3.1 Securing leadership commitment: the recruiter as change agent

Before a recruiter can set out to deploy a diversity staffing strategy, the most important backend work that has to be done will be to obtain "buy-in" from your company's leadership.

Obviously, it will be important to have the human resources director in your camp as well. In fact, the lead HR professional in your company should serve as the project manager of such an effort. However, outside of the human resources lead, it is absolutely mandatory for you to convince the majority of the core executive leadership of your company of the benefits (and legal imperatives) of an effective diversity strategy. If you're a recruiter who is not involved with very many enterprise-wide and far-reaching policy matters, it's time that you got yourself in that mix.

When I speak of securing leadership commitment, I am also saying that the leadership should not just serve as diversity cheerleaders, as often happens, but also as the financial resource supporting and facilitating the actual initiative. One way or another, for the diversity initiative to succeed, the core executive team will need to put their money where their mouth is.

So, the difficult situation of persuading your leadership team into the diversity plans remains: How can recruiters obtain complete buy-in from the executive leadership (financial support, policy support, autonomous authority, proactive assistance)?

Among the most effective tools that I have used to obtain and secure enterprise-wide support is the use of business resource groups (BRGs), also known as affinity groups. The beauty of these groups is that they achieve many of the necessary requirements to assure the deployment of a successful diversity campaign. BRGs are strong catalysts in assuring enterprise-wide participation, team building, diversity structuring, campaign planning and commitment sharing.

How can business resource groups or affinity groups be used to drive enterprise-wide buy in for a successful diversity staffing campaign? Moreover, how can such a tool, as affinity groups even go beyond achieving corporate-wide buy-in and become "springboards" of organisational pride?

Possible? Recruiters are easily among the highest profile people in any organisation. That high profile reality can easily translate into recruiters and BRGs potentially becoming the most effective and consistent diversity catalysts in an organisation.

3.2 Preparation training and education

The reality is that training and education in a successful diversity staffing campaign starts from its very inception and never stops - ever! Once an organisation has decided to embark on a diversity initiative, one of the most effective tools towards reaching a diverse workforce is via educational information programmes that underscore the benefits and gains a diverse workforce will produce.

How can the recruiter and the human resources department disseminate this knowledge and vision of the future? How can HR and staffing facilitate a diversity campaign utilising employee training and education programmes in a practical fashion? There are examples of recruiters that have become effective catalysts and corporate advocates of the virtues of a flourishing corporate diversity, and we'll look closer at some of these to answer these questions.

3.3 Solidifying newly established diversity strategies

Once you have overcome the hurdles of enterprise-wide commitment as well as training and education, it becomes important to solidify newly established strategies and corporate practices for the diversity plans. By this point, when your hiring managers are finally sold on the plan, they must also be well prepared to execute the newly devised strategy. How can a recruiter make the newly converted diversity-faithful effective deployment partners in the diversity strategies and new protocols for their company?

Much time will have to be invested in the interview process. If the interviewing process is not expedited appropriately and effectively within the diversity plan, then the diversity strategy will fail. Is there an effective methodology to redefine the interview process? How will HR and staffing be assured that hiring managers and participants are perfectly versed and capable of executing all the diversity mandates?

New definitions and procedures in the hiring process will, as a requisite, necessitate the reconfiguration of many hiring documents. My experience has been that job descriptions will have to be completely rewritten to reflect your company's new diversity effort. What should go in a job description that reflects a companies desire to diversify? Are there legal risks in the compliance question, when reconfiguring corporate hiring documentation? Can other participants in the diversity strategy (BRGs, affinity groups) help facilitate this process without getting the company in trouble?

3.4 Effective diversity candidate sourcing

Once you're confident that your diversity strategy's infrastructure is effectively in place, the next logical move is to commence the sourcing efforts for your targeted diversity candidates.

Your sourcing campaign should be a dual pronged effort both online and offline. I won't bore you with the many diversity-oriented resume database sites that are out in cyberspace. If you're reading this article, you're probably sophisticated enough to know of the many diversity-focused resume sites already in existence. But what will surprise you is that many of these sites are NOT that effective in helping you source the diversity candidates you may be seeking.

The online sourcing tools that have really been effective in the most successful diversity staffing strategies would have to be the corporate websites, email campaigns and the "surgical" online and offline marketing techniques. An effectively planned diversity staffing strategy will always include the shrewd utilisation of the corporate website towards the diversity recruitment branding. But which corporate website practices have been tried and proven for recruiters and HR professionals alike to use towards their diversity plans?

Among perhaps the most misused and misunderstood diversity sourcing resources are marketing and publicity ad campaigns. Still, many of the most successful diversity staffing campaigns have received their best responses for diversity candidates from such marketing strategies and resources. Is there a limit to the marketing venues and publicity tactics that recruiters should use during their diversity campaign's deployment? What are some of the most effective benchmark uses of newspapers, magazines, and electronic media in an effectively marketed diversity campaign? Magical results have been achieved with these resources, but how can HR and staffing make them work for their diversity imperatives?

4. Conclusion

I've left you with a lot of questions to think about, and I'll do my best to provide answers to them and many others in coming articles. However, do remember that these four diversity deployment resources or tools are the most rudimentary elements to a successful diversity staffing strategy. Above all else, the most important thing I'd like you to take from this article is that all of these tools and elements can be, in fact must be, cultivated and led by the staffing and HR function of any given organisation.

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


C: +27 (0)82 416 7712

T: +27 (0)10 035 4185 (Office)

F: +27 (0)86 689 7862

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