When Seeking Diversity Talent, Companies Often Turn to Search Firms

May 10, 2013
This article is part of a series called Fordyce Forum.

Fordyce Forum 2013 logoNote: Larry A. Green is a a speaker at the upcoming Fordyce Forum 2013. His breakout, Diversity Is Good For Your Business, will show you how to connect with diversity candidates, and meet your client’s requirements that your candidate list be as inclusive and broad as possible. In this article, he offers insights to what you need from the hiring organization and what it should be looking for in a search firm committed to diversity. Register now at Fordyce Forum 2013.

Many organizations do a good job of diversity recruiting at the college and mid-management level, but often fall short when it comes to the senior management ranks. It is well-recognized that having women and people of color in the top spots will assist in your overall diversity recruiting efforts as well as in retention of diverse mid-managers and entry-level employees.

Dedication to attracting talented women and people of color who often are underrepresented at the senior management and board levels of many organizations has now become a priority.

Traditional recruiting methods used by internal recruiting departments, such as posting jobs and identifying individuals in similar positions may not yield the desired results when attempting to build an inclusive workforce. Thus, hiring organizations often turn to executive search firms, insisting on an inclusive candidate slate, but often are disappointed with the results.

Preparing the Client

Active participation is vital to the success of any search, but recruiting efforts with a diversity focus need special emphasis from the hiring organization. When dealing with external search firms, to ensure the best outcome, the hiring organization will want to:

  • Ensure that the consultant conducting the search is well-connected and networked into various diverse organizations, and that he or she has gained membership trust in order to  be effective in identifying candidates and sourcing;
  • Provide appropriate information about your company, its goals and its culture;
  • Inform the search firm of any special considerations or concerns, even those of a confidential nature;
  • Share information about any internal candidates and companies that should or should not be included in the search;
  • Offer timely feedback at each stage of the process;
  • Schedule candidate interviews promptly, once appropriate individuals are identified;
  • Have a strong commitment to a diversity placement from everyone at the client organization who will be involved in the recruitment process;
  • Move swiftly with a competitive and compelling offer once the right candidate is identified, as top candidates are in high demand;
  • Provide a clear plan for successfully integrating the new executive into your organization and its culture.

What, then, should hiring organizations and managers do?

Well, they may want to find an executive search firm with an extensive database that includes women and people of color, and one that is knowledgeable about the use of online diversity research tools. The search firm also should be familiar with directories and periodicals that identify women and people of color, and it should have solid relationships with diversity-focused organizations.

Effective Onboarding

It also is vitally important that the organization has a proven, solid on-boarding program for all hires regardless of gender or race. The program will need to overcome the hidden skepticism and suspicion of acceptance in the culture that women and people of color may bring with them initially. It also should include a presentation about the community to which the candidate will relocate, particularly with people of color, with respect to demographics, housing, schools and churches.

The successful candidate’s decision to accept an offer will be driven primarily by the opportunity and how it plays in his or her career aspirations. However, acceptance of that person’s family into the community, neighborhoods, schools and churches also will be drivers.

Now, the candidate may more than likely have researched that information for him or herself prior to acceptance. But inclusion in the on-boarding program will send a message of caring about potential concerns of the new hire. Additionally, it will give him or her on-the-scene perspective rather than one from pure data.

This article is part of a series called Fordyce Forum.
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