Effectively Applying Diversity and Inclusion in Executive Search

With top executives collaborating more in teams and working less in isolation, the need for diversity is more pronounced now than ever. Time and experience have illustrated the distinct benefits employers reap from actively seeking out employees from a wide range of backgrounds with varying experiences and educational backgrounds. Diversity is less about making noble decisions and meeting compliance goals than putting the organization on the path to a successful future by overcoming human bias and hiring unique, qualified candidates for leadership positions.

Many people view diversity in the workplace as ensuring that the race, age, and gender balance within a company accurately reflects society as a whole. While this is a vital step in the right direction, this interpretation only accounts for half of the equation. These traits represent the inherent diversity of the company’s employees. However, to truly employ a diverse population, one must also consider each individual’s experience, knowledge, values, and education – their acquired diversity.

Benefits of Diversity

Increased diversity in the workplace can significantly impact day-to-day operations and the long-term success of a corporation, as it brings together the expertise of many different people. Diversity drives internal innovation and product development. It increases problem-solving ability and creativity, ultimately boosting business earnings. Organizations that leverage the knowledge and wisdom of a wide variety of people reap benefits in nearly every aspect of their businesses.

Achieving the ideal balance within a corporation, especially when hiring for c-suite executive positions, is challenging. Organizations desiring to diversify their executive management must overcome the hurdles of attracting a diverse applicant pool, removing personal bias from the hiring process, and nurturing an inclusive workplace culture in which all people feel valued and respected.

Diversify the Applicant Pool

Attracting executives with a wide array of skills and backgrounds begins with the way you present the position to potential applicants. Accurately describing the job is just the first step. Choose your words carefully, as some words or phrases may carry a connotation which would discourage some segments of the population from applying. The words you choose should accurately portray your message and welcome all candidates to apply.

You can tailor the benefits package your company offers executives to meet the varied needs of a diverse population. Perks such as a flexible work schedule that provides increased work-life balance and work-from-home options can make your company appeal to a more varied group. These benefits make your organization more appealing to women with family responsibilities and millennials alike. The ability to work from home can draw applicants who live farther away from your downtown offices, who may otherwise overlook the opportunity based purely on the length of the commute. Expanding the area in which your executives live and work allows you to cast a broader net and reach a wider variety of people.

The fact that people with similar values, beliefs, and backgrounds are drawn to one another is something that you can leverage to your benefit. Referrals from other employees can attract diverse leaders to fill open positions. Likely, those from unique backgrounds know others, who like them, excel in their industry. It can be beneficial to consider candidates with relevant skills even if they currently work in a different business sector. A bright executive may be able to apply their knowledge and experience across many business fields.

Minimizing Bias

It is challenging to eliminate bias entirely from human interactions. Whether we are aware of it or not, most people struggle to evaluate people and situations without the influence of past experiences and personal feelings. Limiting the effect that our personal bias has on the recruitment process is essential to increasing workplace diversity. Employing technology in the form of personality assessment tools can help you effectively evaluate a candidate’s motivations, skills, and character traits. Scores from these tests are free from adverse impact, as machines score them without regard to race, age, or gender.

Blind CV evaluation can also aid in viewing each candidate impartially. Removing personal information such as names, graduation years, addresses, and even the names of schools attended leaves only the information pertinent to evaluating skills and knowledge visible to the reader. Removing the human element in the initial stages of the recruitment process ensures a more diverse applicant pool from the start.

Retaining Diverse Talent

Hiring and retaining diverse employees requires a company culture that supports the vision of a diverse group of people where all employees have value and are respected. Bringing together individuals with different ideas and backgrounds can pay great dividends, but differences in beliefs can also drive wedges between individuals. Training on proper inclusion techniques with the example and support of company leadership can set the tone for an inclusive company culture.

Employing Experts

Aware of the benefits of diversifying executive leadership, executive recruiting firms possess the tools and skills necessary to help you identify a unique pool of candidates. Many firms are trained to seek out diversity and look beyond unconscious biases, they can change how you view hiring executives. They may be able to help you identify an emerging leader or a less-apparent candidate and guide you on the best practices for attracting diverse talent now and in the future.

For many successful organizations, diversity and inclusion recruitment extends beyond meeting goals. It is a learning process that includes looking beyond what you think you know and moving forward with someone unique who will breathe innovative ideas and experiences into your business.

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