An article discussing diversity caught my eye this morning. While I believe the author, John Ricciardi had the right intentions, his advice would have significant consequences when applied in the business world. The following is an excerpt from the article:

“Hold hiring managers accountable for a diverse team

The last change is the most provocative and most likely the hardest to implement. Like the recruiting team, a hiring manager’s bonus should be at stake if their team is not diverse. In addition, I propose challenging your leadership team on their commitment to diversity by taking the NFL’s Rooney Rule one step further.

No offers will be generated or extended for departments that do not meet the standard of a 67 percent match to the demographics of the external talent pool. Departments not meeting the diversity standard will be required to include the HRVP and a senior operational leader in the selection process in order to present an offer.“

This solution is flawed. In today’s cultural climate, discussing diversity often creates a sense of uneasiness on both sides of the conversation. Forcing a hiring leader to hire diverse candidates, or argue for a non-diverse candidate, only addresses the symptom and not the cause. Instead of educating HR or TA leadership on the advantages of hiring a diverse staff, they’re simply hiring candidates to hit numbers.

Forcing diversity may create short-term success, but at what expense? Does it address the overall tension that exists? Does it educate hiring managers on why diversity is crucial to a successful organization? Does it drive the right long-term relationship between the hiring leader and the candidates?

Studies show that focusing on diversity and inclusion (not just to hit numbers, but because diverse employees are valuable), increases creativity and corporate profitability. That being said, when done for the wrong reasons, like mandating specific numbers, your organization runs the risk of creating a revolving door and a toxic environment.

So, what do you do?

Share the Facts
Plenty of studies have shown that creative and diverse teams steadily increase revenue. If the hiring leader is held accountable for the organization’s financial performance, the data from those studies indicate that bringing in more diversity within his or her team can be used as leverage.

So, use the data, reinforce it, and hold HMs accountable for the results of the business.

Embrace our Differences
A few months ago, I participated in a roundtable discussion about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. There was a lot of emphasis on how we’re all so much alike, and because of that, it should drive our desire to create diverse teams.

In my opinion, that’s backwards thinking. Our differences are key catalysts to create new ideas, new ways of thinking, and creative solutions. We should spend more time exploring our differences, looking through others’ point of view, and embracing the fact that we’re all different.

Create an army of Advocates
The problem here is that many diverse programs stop after they’ve gotten diverse employees in the door. No one maintains initiatives that actually keep them around. An effective (and obvious) way to retain diverse employees is to create an environment where diversity flourishes. While referrals are by far the greatest source of new candidates, you can’t introduce diversity recruiting until you’ve established inclusion within your existing team. When candidates are running out the back door as new ones are coming in the front, you have a much bigger problem.

Diversity and inclusion are a must for any organization to be successful. However, mandating certain protocols without first laying a foundation can have catastrophic consequences. Do it for the right reasons, the right way, and watch your teams excel and your business grow!


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