For many years, our consulting firm has worked with global, well-known clients who are determined to improve hiring and retention results. They see improving the speed and quality of hiring as a corporate imperative and are often ready to make significant changes to win the talent they need. This desire for improved results is not new. For years now, organizations want to hire faster and better – often targeting skills that are in scarce supply – and it’s hard work to do it well and consistently.
What’s new and different is the fact that organizations now are genuinely interested in increasing the number of people of color – specifically Black talent – in leadership positions. The pivot point of course was the George Floyd murder, the subsequent worldwide marches against systemic racism, and the plethora of heartfelt #BLM advertising campaigns. But the level of determination and aggressiveness is new. And for good reason: the data can no longer easily be ignored:
For some organizations, the confluence of these factors has been a game-changer and senior leaders are more inspired than ever to improve the diversity of their workforce in a measurable and sustained way.
Other organizations, however, don’t understand or acknowledge the work that needs to be done to win and retain top Black talent, and are satisfied with moving a few Black people into high visibility jobs to make a visible statement. Indeed, data indicates that poor employment practices negatively affect Black employees more than their White counterparts. When newly-hired or promoted Black leaders are put into positions prematurely or inappropriately, it feeds racist notions of inferiority (“See what happens when we put a Black person in a position like this?”), leads to acts of ‘talent sabotage’ (“They got hired over all these other people – let them figure out how things work around here”) and ultimately harms the overall workforce and the business.
Proper recruiting, selection, onboarding and performance management routines are critical for the success of any new executive, but particularly for companies seeking to expand diversity among their leadership ranks. The old routines that may have worked reasonably well with primarily White leaders need to be examined and adapted to successfully and consistently win top, diverse talent.
1. Conduct a diversity audit of your past and current workforce:
Conduct a deep analysis of the recent history and current state of your workforce. Analyze two (or more) years of hiring, internal movement and attrition data by level, job type, geography, business unit, compensation, race, gender, age, etc. What is the health of the current workforce (i.e., attrition, retention, and retirement); what positions and skills are hard to find and retain, and why? Determine trends related to diversity hiring, mobility and retention. Identify the priority and specificity of diversity needs by business unit, location, level, etc.
2. Determine your future workforce needs:
Answer the following questions:
3. Identify your workforce diversity priority areas:
Use this analysis to determine the priority areas for “diversity” hiring. “Diversity” appears in quotes here because it is a requirement to clarify and prioritize exactly what this means by job type, location, etc. Does this mean women? Any person of color? Black people? Clarity in this respect is a key component for moving diversity hiring and retention outcomes forward.
4. Assess your organization's current ability to win passive talent:
Assess your current ability to successfully find and win passive talent. After all, you’ll now be competing for high-performing diverse talent that is in scarce supply. How well does your organization currently do the following?
5. Assess your organization's current ability to effectively onboard and retain talent:
Remember, the key isn't just hiring diverse talent - it's that plus ensuring they stay and perform well over time. Therefore, it's key to assess your organization’s ability to successfully onboard and retain high-potential diverse talent throughout the organization. This will tie back to the analysis completed in step 1 because the data will indicate where (geography, roles, levels, etc.) in the organization diversity hiring is succeeding and where it is failing. Is there a structured and documented approach to onboarding with clear roles, responsibilities and measures of success? Is there survey data from new hires that indicate the strength of the onboarding experience? Is the company successful at integrating new hires and helping them to become acclimated and productive quickly? Do managers get personally involved in the orientation, assimilation and development of their team members? Are they held accountable for doing so? Are these activities a stated investment priority for the organization?