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An Unfiltered Discussion on Diversity Recruitment Recap

Landing Point recently hosted an insightful Unfiltered Discussion about Diversity Recruitment as part of our Future of Work, virtual workshop series and we had the pleasure to sit down with a few brilliant minds to discuss the current state and consistent actionable ways to keep progressing forward:

Arthur recently launched the first book of its kind – Hiring for Diversity (essentially the playbook for our new world of work) and he spoke to the high-level themes when it comes to diversity and building a team/company that is inclusive, with a sense of urgency to go from conversation to action all based on in-depth research done through Mathison. The main points of his book and topics we covered in our discussion:

  1. Get clear on what we mean when we say diversity. A lot of leaders use the term “diverse hire” – there is intersectional diversity and a lot of diversity that is invisible. There are also underrepresented groups not even being included. Everyone has had different experiences/ways they identify themselves so DEI is defined differently by everyone.
    • Redirect the conversation to talk about an underrepresented job seeker community versus “diversity.” When we look at this statistically there is a gap between the percentage of communities in an underrepresented population and those that are in leadership positions.
    • There also needs to be a shift to focus on the person and their whole self, skill sets versus obvious potential descriptors of someone to fulfill a quota.
  1. The misconception is that 100% of diversity hiring needs are solely around sourcing and the thinking that once you find these people problems are solved, but that’s not the case. Systems need to be set up for an inclusive environment, if they are not, hiring “diverse” candidates will fail. And when creating equitable systems, it’s not about creating new systems, but thinking about how to embed this work into current systems.
    • We discussed the concept of shifting from reactive Performative Activism to Proactive Inclusion. Performative Activism is a way to signal change about inequity like changing logos for Pride Month, talking about Juneteenth, but that’s as far as it goes is where challenges arise.
      • For example, companies may have changed their logo, but didn’t think about their gender-inclusive policies or parental benefits for same-sex couples at their firm. This reiterates the concept that it’s not just about showing you have a visibly diverse workforce, if the systems are not designed to be culturally confident and inclusive, that strategy won’t work. The shift is committing to talking about underrepresented communities throughout the year and making changes to the systems that are equitable. 
    • To make real change through recruiting efforts, slow down. If you move too fast, you run the risk of reverting back to unconscious bias and undoing all of your progress. There is so much change in the workforce that is anticipated in the next year and this can be a big opportunity if organizations are intentional. It’s critical to empathize with the job seeker and not treat them as a number, but a soul. You want people to feel included and empowered in your hiring process, even down to how people can apply for a job and making sure it’s accessible. If companies truly want to create a diverse and inclusive environment we need to get to the heart of what matters most to hiring managers and instead of looking at the perfect pedigree which creates a homogeneous candidate pool. Shift to looking more at must-haves and minimum requirements and also managing expectations that it might take longer to find a candidate from an underrepresented group.
        • We discussed removing years of experience and degrees from job descriptions to encourage underrepresented groups to apply. Also eliminating jargon to be more inclusive.
  1. DEI responsibilities need to be democratized across the org, not just shouldered by HR/Recruiting professionals or underrepresented groups to make lasting change. Everyone needs to have a sense of ownership, especially leaders and executives who have the power to make real change.
    • The expectation of leaders is incredibly high and complex right now but there are tactics leaders can implement to demonstrate proactive inclusion:
      • Demonstrate empathy, curiosity, vulnerability – these traits were once seen as a weakness, but are now a strength. This will help to have honest conversations with employees to understand their history/perspectives. Joy mentioned an exercise she has found helpful with her clients called the 5 Bullet Points of Your Life – asking employees to define these moments to get beneath the surface and understand what has shaped them and created their whole self.
    • Think of yourself as a permanent student. There will always be a new viewpoint and if you look at the work to be done in creating an inclusive environment as continuous with no fixed endpoint you will succeed.
    • Hiring a Head of DEI should be thought of as hiring a catalyst providing direction and helping to build a DEI landscape, not a magician who will all of sudden make a firm diverse/inclusive on their own. It takes cross-functional teams and other tactics, for example, tying executive comp to diversity outcomes for people to take ownership.
    • We also discussed the misconception that underrepresented community members want to be called out to engage in DEI work and not everyone does and certainly doesn’t want to feel responsible to figure it all out for an organization, especially those without any authority or decision-making abilities.

The Point:

There has been progress made over the past year in regards to DEI in the fact it’s being talked about more, however, it’s time to take action and know that this is a continuous process and evolution that requires honest conversations, empathy, and commitment on a deep systemic level to make real change.

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