HOW MATURE IS YOUR HIRING STRATEGY FOR DIVERSITY?

There are many efforts now at companies to hire for diversity. For example, companies are setting target diversity ratios such as a 50-50 male-female ratio or saying that ethnicity needs to be equally represented. Unfortunately, many of these targets are arbitrary and immature in their thinking. In order to incorporate diversity into one’s hiring business strategy, one must understand what hiring for diversity really means. It’s not as simplistic as one would think.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HIRE FOR DIVERSITY?

Hiring managers must understand that diversity doesn’t mean you are only going to look at the resumes of women or the resumes of Latinos for a position. After all, that’s not only a violation of labor regulations but also a form of what some call reverse-discrimination. One mustn’t hire for diversity just for the sake of diversity. You don’t hire someone because they have a certain color skin or are a certain age. You need to hire talent that meets your business needs. It’s not the color of their skin or age that makes your hiring decision strategic, it the perspective of someone living with that experience that provides value and therefore becomes strategic. However, diversity is one of many elements that makes your hiring decisions strategic, and should not be the main criteria for your decision. Below are 3 components that companies should consider to make their hiring strategy more comprehensive.

HIRE FOR QUALIFICATIONS

When screening applicants, qualification by skill or experience is a key lens that organizations should look through. The candidate must be able to perform the job.

HIRE FOR PERSONAL-FIT

Another key lens that organizations should look through is applicants that have personal-fit with the company. This could mean screening to see if are they able to relocate or get to work when needed, can you motivate them enough with the salary you budgeted, can they work the number of hours you need them for?

HIRE FOR DIVERSITY

And last, but not least, you want to screen applicants for diversity, or can they add the heterogeneity needed for your team in order to deliver. 

Many companies get into trouble when they screen through this first. Choosing people based on something they can’t control, whether it be their race, age, gender, handicap, etc, is not providing equal opportunity, and it is not American according to our constitution. Instead, it’s important that companies screen based on the more controllable factors first.

But how do you hire for diversity when regulations prohibit you from looking at race, age, gender, etc? 

You must ensure that the pool of candidates that you are looking at are similar if not nearly identical in all other regards before looking at this.

Diversity is important in hiring decisions because homogenous teams tend not to perform as well as heterogeneous teams. Case in point, Enron hired an all-star leadership team and now they are bankrupt. And in 1996 the Boca Juniors Futbol team made up of all-stars including Maradona, Riquilme, and a World Cup Champion Coach, lost against Gimnasia that didn’t have any star players by 6-0.

Additionally, hiring for diversity adds perspective to decisions, particularly perspectives that aren’t easily seen. For example, no matter how much I study African American studies or hang out with my African American friends, I can never really know what it’s like to be African American and therefore cannot fairly represent them if they are a stakeholder of my company.

But one must carefully formulate what perspectives matter most. For example, if a company’s customers are 50% Latina women, 40% Caucasian women, and 10% Asian women, then the perspectives that the company should proportionally represent are these 3 groups. 

Research has shown when you have a sales person that matches the same demographic as your customer, you are more likely to make more sales than if that weren’t the case. Customers screen your employees too and they do this to establish a sense of trust. The more relatable they are the better for business. This means trying to formulate a team that closely matches this same ratio. When we do this, we ensure that all stakeholder viewpoints are considered in the company’s business decisions. This is called inclusion, making sure that all stakeholder points of view are fairly represented to the extent of our control.

Social-Responsibility Maturity Hiring Models

Below is a Venn diagram of the 3 components of a comprehensive hiring strategy. But there are different ways to define and execute your hiring strategy in a model I developed called the Social-Responsibility Maturity Hiring ModelJob applicants can fall within any of these pools and non-applicants fall outside of the pools. The numbered areas 1-6 refer to the different talent pool areas that companies select from based on their level of Social-Responsibility Maturity. 1 is the least mature selection area and 6 is the most mature.

Low Social-Responsible Maturity

When looking at this strategy diagram from a 1-dimensional point of view, as many companies still do that have less social-responsible maturity, they operate as follows:

They select their job candidates mostly from areas 1, 2, & 3. They first screen for qualified candidates in terms of skill and experience, then consider personal-fit, and lastly diversity if at all. Applicants that fall into these areas are what we call 1st Tier candidates. The companies then emanate further outward and into the diversity pool as needed depending on talent and budget shortages. They look for the most overlaps. Companies like this are very much operating as takersin the labor market. They select talent solely for their benefit rather than becoming leaders in areas where policy hasn’t been enough. 

Medium Social-Responsible Maturity 

Now one could argue that experience and skill are not controllable to the extent that we would like, putting candidates without experience and skill at a disadvantage because they couldn’t obtain it due to either previous discrimination or economic disadvantage. Therefore, companies that understand this make their selections a little further away from the center, and more so in the dual-over-lapping zones. They understand that their top performers may very well not be from the 1st Tier pool, but rather from areas 4 & 5. A company with medium maturity would start their talent searches with the diversity screen overlapping either qualifications or personal-fit for entry-level positions where experience and skill don’t matter as much. Entry-level positions are lower risk areas for companies to explore a little further out in the heterogeneity talent pool. Companies with medium maturity also realize that it takes time for those diversity hires to make their way to the top, making the top leadership ranks the hardest to diversify. Consequently, some might put in place programs to help develop these individuals up their career path.

High Social-Responsible Maturity 

Companies with high social-responsible maturity stray furthest away from the center and look at area 6 in addition to all the other areas when selecting candidates. Candidates in area 6 generally are overlooked due to the flaws in our social system and in fact sometimes provide an even greater strategic advantage. Point in case, how is it that Lebron James, raised by a very young and poor single mom, has become one of the top performing basketball players in the world. How is it that Oprah Winfrey, born into very poor circumstances, has become one of the wealthiest women in the states. Companies with this higher maturity level understand the adversity of and lack of opportunities for minority groups and take on a leadership position to ensure they consider them for positions. The most mature of these companies create programs to try to bring the applicants the furthest away from the center closer in. Some will even reach out to individuals who didn’t apply, but wanted to (dots outside of the circles), develop them through a program, and then get them to apply so they land inside their circles. 

This model for Social-Responsible Maturity is meant to help organizations understand why they are really hiring for diversity, what diversity really means, and gives them a path to evolve to higher maturity and leadership. This model also will be especially important in the future as minorities reach tipping points into a majority. It will help society keep the idea of diversity in perspective of its true meaning. But it will take more than this model to maintain an appropriate heterogeneous balance.

TIPPING POINT POLICY

We are starting to reach or near some tipping points where policies to equalize for opportunity are now nearing their end-purpose and will soon be threatening to reverse-discriminate the once majority demographics. Granted it is hard to empathize with the old majority groups to the same degree as it was for the old minority groups. But should it really be that hard? After all, groups once in the minority know exactly what it feels like to be a minority. They have worked so hard to balance the scales. Once tipped, some may feel like they deserve to take on the traditional benefits of being a majority for at least as long as the old majority had. If this is the case we are talking about a 400-year debt that some may see as needing to be repaid. Although an extreme point of view that is already starting to surface, it will certainly be one that comes into play in politics that we can’t ignore. To wait another 400 years to allow reverse-discrimination to even the playing field is too long to get to the ultimate place where we know we need to be. And that is reaching a level of diversity and inclusion that forgives the social injustice debts of our ancestors and maintains a fair opportunity for all always. This means replacing policy that favors old minority groups with policy that tries to bring up current minority groups, whatever group that may be in the moment. 

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