As companies look to fill the surge in vacancies driven by the big resignation, some are hoping there’s a silver lining. Openings provide the opportunity to attract new talent, including those of different gender or racial identities than those they have hired in the past.
However, many organizations have historically struggled to diversify their new hires, especially at the leadership level.
To understand how leaders can ensure they don’t miss the moment to diversify their workforce, I reached out to Melanie Ho, organizational consultant and award-winning author of Beyond Approach: Gender Equity and What Organizations Face. Melanie shared valuable advice for leaders determined to diversify their workforce.
1. Identify a wider pool of candidates through skills mapping
One of the challenges is that it’s easier for hiring managers and HR to focus on prioritizing candidates who have already done the job they’re applying for elsewhere – at another employer, or even a department at the within the same organization. That’s handy, but for roles where the current occupants aren’t already diverse, it’s not going to create a diverse pool.
“For many roles, the most obvious pipeline isn’t very diverse,” Ho said. “But the most obvious pipeline isn’t the only one, or even the best, either. By mapping the specific skills needed for a particular job, leaders can then identify which other types of roles require the same types of skills. For example, universities looking to incorporate more racial diversity into their fundraising staff have had success recruiting salespeople, even from entirely different industries, because sales and fundraising jobs require many similar skills. . Ho noted, “Hiring people with the right skills who come from a wider variety of roles and backgrounds brings new skills and perspectives to the team.”
2. Adopt simulation-based assessment tests and interviews
Many hiring managers still unofficially use the “airport test” when hiring, where interviewers have the question in mind: “If I was stuck in an airport with this person for three hours, would it How would I like it?” This can cause organizations to hire people they personally like or who have looked like them from the past, rather than those who are the best fit for the job.
Standardizing questions and using competency-based interviews is a first step to reducing bias in interviews, but Ho said forward-thinking organizations tend to go even further. “The most accurate way to know how someone will do on the job is to run simulations or tests. These can range from sorting out fake emails if it’s a project management job or designing parts of a branding campaign for a marketing job. She added that this was not an opportunity to obtain free labor from job seekers and that assignments should be paid if the work product could end up being used by the employer.
3. Remove Barriers to Diverse Hiring
If recruiters are measured and incentivized primarily by the time it takes to fill positions, it can lead them to over-rely on traditional sources of candidates. Additionally, hiring managers often find that a variety of pressures work against tapping into a larger pool.
“Often I speak to managers who say they met a candidate who was stronger in the basic skills needed for the job, or who they saw as having more promotion and long-term potential, than the one they ended up hiring,” Ho said. “Internal candidates or those who have done the exact same job in a similar organization have an edge because they require less onboarding, even though the less traditional candidate would end up being louder or just as loud after an initial start-up time.”
These managers need to know that senior leaders in their organizations value long-term talent and workforce diversity, and are willing to help them invest in making this happen, such as onboarding support.
4. Demonstrate a commitment not only to diversity, but also to equity and inclusion
“Just because you’re interested in a candidate doesn’t mean they’re interested in you,” Ho said. ‘equity and inclusion, but the lived experience doesn’t match what’s in the brochure.’
In the era of the Great Resignation, many job seekers are raising the bar for potential employers. Ho noted that “many women and people of color specifically leave organizations where they weren’t treated fairly, and they do a lot more due diligence to make sure they don’t repeat history.”
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