Training, Development & Retention
Warning: When I talk about diversity, culture and business I tend to get passionate and a little preachy. Pardon me in advance….
You see, culture and diversity are at the very core of who I am. Let me explain, I am not only a person of “color” based on my skin’s tone, but a person of “color” based on my creative mind,
resourceful approaches to staffing problems, work in general, leisure time, I am a person of “color” even in the foods I eat… I love variety! My point is that anyone can be a person of “color.” If “color” means creativity, outside-the-box thinking, social inventiveness, then truly all of us have the potential of being people of “color.”
It’s no coincidence that today part of my work involves designing and deploying strategic diversity initiatives. What gets me excited about diversity is the fact that I have seen it work, and work effectively, profitably. I know the almost “electric” synergy and wonderful investment return that it renders.
Electric synergy? Wonderful investment? Where? How? A perfect example of an organization that has obtained organizational strength and depth from diversity staffing is FIFA the worldwide controlling body of the World Cup Soccer Games. I remember as a child having had the opportunity to attend the World Cup soccer matches with my father in Mexico. We drove all the way from Los Angeles to Mexico City … it was an amazing experience!
To see so many different cultures, colors, people, foods, languages, clothing, national flags, etc. etc. was an experience I will never forget! The FIFA league takes huge strides in assuring that their referees reflect the hundreds or races, languages and cultures represented in the sport of soccer. Although FIFA was founded by the French over 100 years ago, their current worldwide administration that sponsors and sanctions the playoffs around the world is made up of Arabic Sheikhs, African tribesmen, Asians, Latin Americans, Europeans, men, women, and people from just about every industry practice in existence.
Truly from an analytical stand point, FIFA and the World Cup events have successfully created a veritable chile con carne mish-mash, with just about every human bean, onion, meat and chile mixed into the bowl. Yet, it’s that mish-mash that creates the electricity in the air that arises when everyone is simply different! At World Cup Soccer events, attendees and FIFA employees alike talk different, they look different, they somehow play different, yet they all shared one thing in common: an affinity for football (soccer).
At a very young age I realized that all the ridicule I had experienced in the U.S. from other kids was probably out of jealousy and spite. Because I WAS different, and not just different without merit, but totally unique and colorful, I was fully a standout (told you I was passionate). The World Cup taught me that when given the opportunity people prefer… no, people embrace unique differences. They enjoy it! They love it! Diverse environments are a psychologically intriguing and socially energetic phenomenon. Diverse peoples ultimately not only choose to interact with one another, they PREFER it!
Question is: how do you harness that successful diverse World Cup synergetic phenomenon into your company as a recruiter? What tools and protocols are available for recruiters to practically and effectively inculcate that culturally diverse synergy into the work place?
In this article I will discuss 4 necessary tools and stages that I have found critical and necessary if a recruiter is to act as a successful catalyst for diversity in their company. Obviously, architecting and deploying an effective diversity staffing initiative is a deep complex social program that would probably be better detailed beyond the limited confines of this article. However, in the spirit of brevity, we will cover the major elements utilized in successful diversity staffing campaigns that every recruiter should use when planning to deploy a comprehensive diversity staffing initiative.
The four tools and protocols that I have found most necessary for successful deployment of diversity staffing are:
1- Secure your company's leadership commitment.
2- Be prepared to educate and train all those employees and hiring managers that will participate in the diversity initiative.
3- Design and solidify the diversity processes and protocols that will be necessary in your diversity initiative.
4- Make sure to spend the necessary time to plan out an appropriate diverse candidate sourcing strategy.
STAGE 1: Securing your company's leadership commitment: recruiter as change agent
Before a recruiter can set out to deploy a diversity staffing strategy the most important front-end work will be to obtain "buy-in" from your company's leadership. Obviously, it'll be important to have the human resources director or vice president in your camp. In fact, I would hope that the lead HR professional in your company would 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 of an effective diversity strategy. If you are a recruiter that is not involved with very many enterprise-wide and far-reaching policy matters, it is time that you got yourself in that mix.
MONEY & AUTHORITY
When I speak of securing leadership commitment I am also saying that the leadership should not just serve as the diversity cheerleaders, which often happens, but also as the financial resource supporting and facilitating the actual initiative. Leadership commitment also involves decentralizing and granting staffing and Human Resources 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.
BUSINESS RESOURCE GROUPS
Among the most effective tools that I have used to obtain and secure enterprise-wide support and buy-in is the use of business resource groups or BRGs. Business resource groups have also been called 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. What I have found is that as a recruiter BRGs are "social devices" that are easily led and facilitated by the recruiter. Recruiters are easily amongst the highest profile people in any corporation, if they’re doing their job right. That high profile reality can easily translate into the recruiter potentially becoming the most effectively consistent diversity catalyst in an organization.
Another impressive attribute about BRGs is the fact that absolutely everyone in the enterprise must and will desire to participate. Case in point, one of our clients that was in a pre-IPO situation not only needed to staff up rapidly, but they wanted to assure that they grew in a rich and diverse manner. We decided to deploy a resource group initially for Asians, people's 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 & relation groups, intern mentoring programs, training workshops, College Recruitment, community speaking engagements and ultimately a general “SPRING-BOARD” of organizational pride! The affinity groups had not only achieved its initial objective of diversely staffing up the company effectively, but later the affinity groups became effective employee wellness and management development resources. Recruiters absolutely can and must directly engage in growing their companies' social capital.
Preparation Training & Education
The reality is that training and education in a successful diversity staffing campaign starts from the very inception of such a program and never stops ... ever. However, once an organization has embarked on a diversity initiative some of the most effective and educational information the recruiter and the human resources department can disseminate is the knowledge and vision of the future; and what that future will hold for the company when diversity flourishes. With the recruiter as diversity facilitator it is a natural progression for the recruiter to also fill the role as the enterprise visionary or evangelist advocating for visionary diversity objectives. As the evangelist, the responsibility of training and educating the company becomes paramount. The recruiter and H.R. department will need to be able to clearly explain and identify:
1) why diversity is necessary
2) what successes diversity will achieve
3) how financially profitable diversity will be
4) what the “road map” to diversity will look like.
For any recruiter or human resource department that’s truly passionate about deploying and achieving effective diversity some of this education and training should come very easily. My experience has been that the most difficult education and training that the recruiter and human resource department will need to facilitate will be the need to convince the corporate leadership to relinquish some of its authority so that human resources can be free to plan out the strategic road map to the company’s diversity staffing objectives. If the staffing department and human resources are not given the authority to facilitate, lead and map out the chosen diversity procedures and path then the whole effort will fail. Some recruiters will have an easier time than others depending on the management of any given company. Once however, some level of autonomy for decision-making is secured, the “roadmap” to the diversity strategy is usually close at hand.
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 utilized 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 impart the “plays” and strategies that will lead to the organization's diversity victory.
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. I told you I was going to be preachy! 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 such as motivation, acculturation, bilingual abilities, international or cultural experiences, etc. will be very important in expanding their understanding and vision of diverse candidates and your diversity focus.
Solidify and construct your newly established Diversity Strategies and plan practices
Once you have overcome the hurdles of enterprise-wide commitment and training & education, you can now begin to solidify and construct your newly established strategies and corporate practices for the diversity plan. By this point, it's important for your hiring managers and any other participants be appropriately trained and knowledgeable in the diversity strategies and protocols that will be deployed to diversify your 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. Not only will you as the recruiter have to redefine how to interview and what to interview for, but by necessity you will also have to assure that your hiring managers and participants are perfectly versed and capable of executing all the diversity mandates (not just the interviewing aspects of the plan). Everyone involved in the diversity strategy must completely understand what their role is and how to execute that role.
RECONFIGURING HIRING DOCUMENATION
These new definitions and procedures in the hiring process will, as a requisite require the reconfiguration of many of the hiring documents. My experience has been that job descriptions will have to be completely rewritten to reflect your company's new diversity effort. Make sure that the job descriptions not only contain the simple qualifications, but also the new definitions of diversity that by this point you should have already articulated and integrated into the staffing process. Make sure your job descriptions sell your company’s diversity, do not be afraid to publicize that your company seeks creative people, outside the box thinkers, people that are “colorful” in their thinking and team work. Remember now, don't get yourself into legal trouble with job descriptions. I don't need to remind you that any verbiage that even slightly insinuates the possibility of preferential treatment is illegal.
Review all of your interview documentation. If your hiring managers use a particular interviewing document during interviews make sure that that document also reflects your company's diversity strategy. The same can be said about checking references. Any candidate can walk in the door of a company and really talk up their cosmopolitan nature, and brag about their “I’m well traveled” and “colorful” side. Make sure you have some purposeful and well thought out reference questions prepared for when the time comes to check the character background of your candidates.
If your company has decided to utilize affinity groups or business resource groups, make certain that those participants are ready to socially engage and embrace any of the diversity candidates that may require speaking to them. It's like having your house in order. You must make sure that everyone does their part in this strategy and that they are rehearsed seamlessly to project an effective and congruent diversity message.
Effective diversity candidate sourcing
TRUTH ABOUT DIVERSITY SITES
Once you're confident that your diversity strategy’s infrastructure is effectively in place you can begin your sourcing for strongly qualified diversity candidates. Your sourcing campaign should be a dual pronged effort both online and offline. I will not 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. 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. A study by Wetfeet.com, produced results that indicated that the vast majority of diversity candidates preferred posting their resumes on the general sites everyone else uses, such as Monster, Hotjobs, Dice, etc…. so to be frank, I have not found these various diversity sites too useful.
The online tools that have really helped me in sourcing great diversity candidates, have to be the corporate websites, e-mail campaigns and online marketing. One of the first places candidates visit in regards to working for your company is of course your corporate website.
CORPORATE WEBSITES & DIVERSITY
An effectively planned diversity staffing strategy will always include the shrewd utilization of the corporate website towards the diversity staffing branding. There are so many things you could do with your corporate website that promotes diversity staffing that I could probably write and devote an entire article just to that subject. However, some of the most effective uses of the corporate website for diversity staffing have included: posting pictures of your diverse staff having fun together, bragging about how your company reaches out into the community to help for example senior citizens – children - the disabled - even providing scholarships for at risk youth, etc. Many of our clients have taken our suggestion, and have posted information about their work life programs - specifically for employees ... programs like on-site free child care, subsidized senior care, flexible work schedules - anything that could attract and retain a diverse make up of employees. Some very calculating companies have even added a list of their business resource groups specifically oriented towards Asians, Hispanics and African Americans with online buttons inviting visitors to their job pages to “push the button” to communicate with a peer from their possible demographic group… pretty ingenious and interactive if you ask me. The possibilities are endless and only limited by your own strategic and “colorful” imagination.
MARKETING AND PUBLICITY ADS
Perhaps the most misused and misunderstood diversity sourcing tactics are the marketing and publicity ad campaigns. One of the best responses for diversity candidates I have ever received was from an ad one of our clients had us develop and publish in Spanish newspapers to take advantage of the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Cinco de Mayo is a big, big deal in California, and in most of the Southern U.S. We leveraged the holiday as an opportunity to deliberately attract potential Spanish speaking Latin candidates for my clients marketing department which was in dire need of expanding into the Southern areas of the U.S. The ad was a total success!! We managed to successfully integrate Cinco de Mayo and humor into the ad to capture the audience we were trying to “fish-out” (bilingual marketing executives). It became apparent that this kind of tactic could easily be applied and customized for any demographic community you may be trying to source from. Newspapers and magazines are not the only venue either. Magical results have been achieved with the radio airwaves, television, press releases, public-service announcements, etc., again the sky is the limit!
Finally, another very creative a unique way for your company to source out diverse candidates is through corporate sponsorships of ethnic and cultural events in your community. How about sponsoring a Pilipino festival? How about showing your corporate colors at an ethnic concert or local soccer game? One client where we were leading the staffing effort asked us for some ideas to diversify their company. After a lot of strategizing and brainstorming we simply opened up the local newspaper and found a story about a local high school Chinese performing arts troop that was in need of funding to perform in the local San Francisco Chinese New Year parade. Bingo!! The high school troop found their sponsors in our client, and our client found their venue to recruit from. During the course of the parade we suggested to our client that they aggressively distribute marketing cards in both Chinese and English playing up the company's successes, diversity, benefits and of course job openings. From that one sponsorship effort our client ultimately hired three technical professionals for their development department and our new receptionist! We of course promptly posted up the photos of our involvement in the parade in the clients corporate website. Not bad for an afternoon of fun, camaraderie and great food!
So remember, these four stages or tools are the most fundamental elements to a successful diversity staffing strategy. Like most things these four stages are organic and flexible and can be custom cultivated for your diversity plans. However, the most important thing I’d like you to take from this article, is that all of these tools can be, and absolutely should be cultivated and led by the staffing and Human Resources function of any given organization.
If like me, you are a recruiter that understands that recruiting is a business imperative, and not just matching people to qualifications, then diversity staffing represents the perfect opportunity for ALL recruiters to legitimize their importance in today's global economy. If you’re still not convinced of the power of diversity in business or people relations, just check out any of the World Cup Soccer games going on … feel that electricity that a novel mish-mash of peoples from around the world can create….
Hmmm? Soccer, fun and diversity, who would have ever thought?
About the Author
H. Martin de’Campo is a managing principal of HUMANATEK GROUP, a professional recruiting consultancy and a columnist and commentator on various business media venues on topics involving national employment/labor economics, strategic corporate recruiting, and diversity careers & staffing. Previously, he was a William Keck Fellow at the University of Southern California; an Alfred Sloan Foundation Fellow (Research) while attending the University of California, Berkeley; in 2006 Human Capital Magazine featured him as a “Future HR Thought Leader of America;” and in 2009 Martin and Humanatek’s staff were awarded “Outstanding Service Recognition” by Senator Diane Feinstein and Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigoza. Martin is the author of numerous articles on employment/labor economics, human resources and recruiting and has appeared on TV & radio programs and countless business journals. To reach Martin and Humanatek recruiting services (retained & RPO) visit: www.Humanatek.com / email@example.com
/ follow Martin at: http://twitter.com/Humanatek
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