I have been doing some research lately on how talent acquisition, HR business partners, and business executives are doing when it comes to diversity. What I am finding out that we have made strides in one area but need to focus on a few key diverse groups that require immediate attention.
Last week, I read a blog about how employers are not making strides in recruiting veterans. To quote an excerpt, “our fixation and focus on veteran hiring has actually digressed to paying off what are at best diminishing returns, and at worst, a loss of great candidates due to misinformed or misguided veteran hiring related policies and programs.” Horsehockey…kind of. Large and some medium-sized organizations are making great strides in veteran recruiting. As of February 2017, veteran unemployment is 3.9%. That is significantly lower than the national average of 4.7%.
While I fully agree that we need to continue focusing on employing veterans, let’s look at some of the hidden diversity numbers that are being ignored and that talent acquisition functions and leaders need to focus on. Specifically the unemployment of African Americans (8.1%), Hispanics (5.6%), and Individuals with Disabilities (10%). One group not even mentioned in the BLS report was the Native American unemployment rate which is very concerning. Let us not forget women in technology and leadership positions as well as the LBGTQ community.
Why Aren’t Companies of All Sizes and Industries Focusing On These Groups?
Many of the common excuses I hear are “these groups do not have have s strong presence in our industry” or “these groups do not have a presence in our community.” In a blog post last December entitled, How to Achieve Diversity: Stop Making Excuses by Mary C. Daly, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco where she works said, ” They (her team) deflected responsibility and allowed us to grow comfortable with the status quo.” I think she drives a strong point in that one statement alone. Meaning, we simply become okay which these excuses, so much so that, they become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So What Can Internal D&I, TA, and HR Teams Do?
Notice, I did not say leaders. All team members need to be involved and get business team members involved as well. This does not mean starting action groups right away. Many companies have Diversity Action Groups, and for those who do it right – having meetings, bringing ideas to the table that align with company strategy, and having all levels of employees participating including managers and executives – are very successful. It is a great place to start, but it all boils down to one thing – the company’s involvement and dedication to the communities it serves. This way of thinking is much different than saying “we need executive support on diversity.” It puts the onus on the company, which includes all levels of employees, so it assumes executive involvement and support.
In my role with the American Heart Association (AHA), I was able to have recruiting on our Diversity Action Council whose focus was to ensure equal medical services and advocacy across all communities. By incorporating the mission and value of “Meeting People Where They Are,” our regional recruiters joined our Multicultural Markets team members at various community functions. Our recruiters were out in the AHA-sponsored community events networking and talking with potential candidates who believed in our mission. We already had the attention of the particular community we were visiting, so we had our own mini-career fair even though it was an AHA community event. Bottom line: We partnered with our D&I-focused business group to help us attract candidates who were interested in helping us further our mission.
D&I Cannot Be Placed on Autopilot
Many of you believe that D&I can be done from your desk. Bad news – it doesn’t work. You can shout you and your company are all about D&I from your desks or rooftops all day, month and year long. I can assure you, you will see zero results. Many federal contractors partner with third party vendors such as Local Job Network, DirectEmployers Association, eQuest or Job Findah. These organizations boast about their ability to route your positions to diversity-related websites. Does the old model of spidering jobs to diversity job sites or colleges work? No! Why? Because everyone is going to Indeed to do their job search? The days of Instead of sitting in a chair and doing searches for “diverse candidates” are gone. Furthermore, some of these third party vendors have what they call a Partnership Relationship Management (PRM) systems which really do help Federal Contractors keep their outreach tracking in check. PRMs are essentially a contact management system that allow you to enter the Organization’s name and contact information as well as it documents (when you enter the information) your outreach via phone call, job posting, visit, etc.
There is a problem though. Compliance and TA leaders believe that if they call their outreach partners once or twice a quarter and feed their open jobs to these different agencies. What these vendors do not do is tell you that you need to get out in to your communities and network with your outreach partners. Your focus is: “well I have a system that now tracks our outreach in case the OFCCP comes a knockin.” It is a false sense of security because outreach does not happen when sitting behind a desk and banking on your PRM. This is not an airplane or a Tesla. You cannot just push a button and pray the people come.
D&I is about building relationships in the communities your recruit from. D&I is about including everyone’s thoughts, ideals, values, and beliefs. So what does that mean? GET OUT IN TO YOUR COMMUNITY and quit doing diversity outreach from your cube or office! Try these ideas:
- Visit your local outreach centers
- Work with your organization to get out in to the diverse communities and host events that show your organization is an inclusive company
- Have those outreach center contacts visit you
- Interview your outreach partners and have them interview you so a true partnership can be formed
- Host a career fair and invite your outreach partners at your career fair. By inviting your partners, they in turn will push out information about the career fair to the communities they serve
- Targeted Recruitment Marketing Campaigns
- Partner with diverse colleges and universities whether it is HBCUs, Native American, Hispanic or Asian populated universities.
When we say partner, we mean include them in your campus recruiting activities, Twitter chats and updates about your organizations.
- Partner with city council and civic leaders who can be your brand ambassador in all communities where your company has a presence
- Work with local college campus leaders about hosting information sessions or being a guest lecture series speaker
Get out in the community. Stop making excuses and accepting the status quo. Be a difference maker in diversity and inclusion.