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Diversity recruiting: Part 2

Diversity recruiting: Part 2

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


1. Introduction

When I was a little boy, one of my favorite desserts was arroz con leche, otherwise known as rice pudding in English. One day, while she was slaving over the hot stove to make my favourite dessert, I asked my mamita (Spanish for "mommy") why she was adding so many "other" ingredients to the arroz con leche. After all, arroz con leche translated literally means rice and milk, so I figured that was the sum total of the ingredients.

My mamita looked at me and said, "Oh no mi hijo (my son), arroz con leche requires many ingredients for it to taste good. I always add sugar, cinnamon, raisons, vanilla, a touch of condensed milk, a pinch of salt, and sometimes even pineapple, 'cause your papi likes it with pineapple."

Needless to say I was perplexed. I looked at her and asked, "Then why do they just call it 'rice and milk,' when it obviously has so many other ingredients?"

My mamita looked at me sweetly, as she always did when I asked dumb questions, and she said, "Mi hijo always remember, the most delicious and novel things in life are always rich and complex in their nature, and sometimes very difficult to make...that's what makes them so desirable."

And so it was, through rice pudding and my mamita, that I got one of my first philosophical lessons via culinary diversity. I also learned about the virtues of possessing the patience, knowledge, and skill to mix the right ingredients and resources at the right time if you intend to create a colorfully delicious plate (or organisation, for that matter)!

In this article, we'll apply my mamita's wisdom in answering the many questions I posed in Part One of this diversity staffing discussion. We'll take a closer look at two of the four key ingredients and resources necessary to architect and deploy an effective diversity staffing campaign: 1) securing your company's leadership commitment, and 2) training and educating the diversity campaign's participants.

Before we move on, let's recap the four necessary ingredients to a successful diversity staffing strategy we discussed in my last article:

>> Secure your company's leadership commitment.

>> Be prepared to educate and train all those employees and hiring managers that 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.

In my last article, I pointed out that anyone can be a person of "colour," and that "colour" should be defined as creativity, outside-the-box thinking, and social inventiveness. This metaphoric definition opens the doors for all of us have the potential of being people of "colour." Keep that in mind: Your ability to BE a person of "colour" in your approach to a diversity staffing strategy will directly impact your effectiveness in designing and deploying a successful diversity initiative.

2. Securing leadership commitment: the recruiter as change agent

Most of you, if you're in a "normal" company will face an uphill battle with this one. Securing the commitment from your company's executive leadership will be one of the most difficult tasks in a diversity campaign, and for some, one of the most difficult pursuits they'll attempt in their careers.

However, as difficult as this will be, it's not impossible - especially not for the entrepreneurial recruiter (a.k.a. person of "colour") who has the understanding and belief that an effective diversity staffing campaign is just about the most powerful solution for any company struggling to build not only their professional culture but also their sales and clientele!

Any company that is able to achieve a corporate staff reflecting the business world's diversity is a company that typically has greater morale, higher productivity and sales, and taller profit margins. These positive synergies from diverse companies will always render a stronger corporate fabric than homogenous organisations. Recruiters and HR professionals who have this understanding and conviction deeply seeded in their souls will be the successful ones in securing buy in from their company's leadership.

During your plan's proposal phase, try showing your executive leadership team the many corporate success stories that diverse workforces have achieved in fiercely competitive markets. After all, without the buy in from leadership, the strategy will fail. If you are a recruiter who is not already involved with enterprise-wide policy matters, now is time to get yourself involved.

3. Money and authority

Securing leadership commitment does not mean having corporate leadership as supportive "cheerleaders." It means having leadership that possesses the same convictions recruiters and HR professionals have about diversity. Most importantly, it means having leadership willing to put their money where their mouths are. Their financial support is crucial in facilitating the initiative's success.

Leadership commitment also involves decentralising, and granting staffing and HR the authority and decision-making freedom necessary to effectively deploy a diversity strategy. Ultimately your corporate leadership should not only be morally, financially, and administratively supportive of the diversity initiative, but they should also set the pace by participating in every aspect of the diversity initiative. They should be your best examples of what an employee should be doing to assist in assuring a diverse workforce.

4. Business resource groups (BRGs)

Among the most effective tools that I have used to obtain and secure leadership buy in and enterprise-wide support is the use of business resource groups, or BRGs. Business resource groups, also known as "affinity groups," are organised around a variety of diverse groups of employees, with the goal of recruiting, developing and advancing diverse employees in a company.

BRGs can help assure the deployment of a successful diversity campaign. They are also strong catalysts in assuring enterprise-wide participation, team building, diversity structuring, campaign planning, and commitment sharing. In my experience, I have found that BRGs are "social devices" that are easily led and facilitated by the recruiter or HR professional.

One of the best things about BRGs is that absolutely everyone in the enterprise must and will desire to participate. Case in point: One of our pre-IPO clients not only needed to staff up rapidly, but they also wanted to ensure that they grew in a rich and diverse manner. We decided to initially deploy resource groups geared toward Asians, people with disabilities, and gays.

The success of these groups not only led to attracting more diverse and qualified employees to the company, but later, after the company had achieved its objective of 400 employees, the BRGs became the sources of employee communication and relation groups, intern mentoring programmes, training workshops, college recruitment, community speaking engagements - and ultimately a general "springboard" of organisational pride! The affinity groups had not only achieved their initial objective of diversely staffing up the company effectively, but later the affinity groups became effective employee wellness and management development resources.

Taking notes HR professionals? Recruiters absolutely can and must directly engage in growing their companies' social capital by deploying a diversity staffing campaign with their executive team's buy in.

5. Preparation: training and education

Successful diversity staffing campaigns deploy effective training and education resources from the very inception, and never stop...ever! The most effective and educational information the recruiter and the human resources department can disseminate in a diversity initiative is a vision of the future, and specifically, what that future holds for the company when diversity flourishes.

When recruiters act as diversity facilitators, it's a natural progression for recruiters to also fill the role as the enterprise visionary or "evangelists" pushing for visionary objectives within diversity. As the "evangelist," the responsibility of training and educating the company becomes paramount. The recruiter and HR department will need to be able to clearly explain and identify:

>> Why diversity is necessary.

>> What successes diversity will achieve.

>> How financially profitable diversity will be.

>> What the "road map" to diversity will look like.

6. Real authority equals action

Recruiters who are truly passionate about deploying and achieving effective diversity will have little problems applying education and training resources. My experience indicates that the most difficult education and training that recruiters and HR departments need to facilitate will be to convince the corporate leadership to relinquish some of its authority, so that HR can be free to plan out the strategic road map to the company's diversity staffing objectives. If the staffing department and HR are not given the authority to facilitate, lead, and map out the chosen diversity procedures and path, then the whole effort will fail.

7. Diversity "coaching"

During this education and training phase, it will be important to articulate and help the rest of the company visualize what the diversity mandate will be, what each of the stages to the objective will look like, what role all the participants will play, what milestones will be reached — and even what documentation will be utilised for the diversity effort. Indeed, like a football coach in front of his chalkboard scheming the plays of the game, so too the recruiter must clearly explain the "plays" and strategies that will lead to the organisation's diversity victory.

8. More preaching

Don't be surprised if you also have to train your hiring managers on how to interview candidates! I kid you not. The fact is, the vast majority of hiring managers I have met at various client sites could stand some deep training in the simple fundamentals of interviewing — let alone interviewing for diversity.

It will be absolutely critical that your hiring managers learn how to redefine the company's qualifications list for the sake of diversity. Redefining what "superior performance" or what a "strong candidate" is will be crucial to the diversity effort. Helping your hiring managers to understand and embrace diversity attributes as new qualifications — such as motivation, acculturation, bilingual abilities, international or cultural experiences — will be very important in expanding their understanding and vision of diverse candidates and your diversity focus.

During this phase you'll be doing a lot of repeating. And that's okay. Repetition is expected when you're endeavoring to change a complete corporate-wide function such as staffing objectives.

9. Conclusion

Just remember what my mamita said, "The most delicious and novel things in life are always rich and complex in their nature, and sometimes very difficult to make...that's what makes them so desirable." So don't forget to listen to yourself, stay positive, and to keep your eyes on the ultimate goal.

In my next article, I'll cover the final two elements necessary for a successful diversity staffing strategy in further detail.


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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director

BA LLB

C: +27 (0)82 416 7712

T: +27 (0)10 035 4185 (Office)

F: +27 (0)86 689 7862

Website: www.workinfo.com
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