Interview: Diversified Search Director Talks Diversity (Part 2)

July 24, 2009 – Edie Fraser is managing director and chair of the diversity practice at Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson. She brings to her role over four decades of experience in supporting diversity at the most senior levels of corporations, organizations and government in the U.S. and globally. She is devoted to the advancement of minorities and women, and has worked with more than 100 CEOs to develop and implement strategic talent plans and programs. Prior to joining Diversified Search, Ms. Fraser was founder and CEO of Diversity Best Practices, a member service for diversity practitioners where she designed the CEO Diversity Leadership program. In the following interview, Ms. Fraser discusses diversity recruiting trends and how growth in this sector has sidestepped the current turbulent economy.

Are companies less concerned about their internal diversity initiatives because of the slowdown in their businesses?

No, they are not less concerned. They may be curbing unnecessary spending on conferences and on major recruiting efforts. Costs are being watched. But due to the reasons I cited last week in Part One of my interview with you about the business case for diversity, any slowdown will be weathered. Program priorities are being altered. I believe so much of this is healthy, as this makes diversity truly reflect its inherent bottom line.

So how are diversity officers doing? Is there upward mobility? Do they impact talent acquisition and development? Are talent acquisition officers impacted?

I find a great delight in the upward mobility and influence of diversity officers through the years. Some are playing strong roles as HR executives; others have moved into the business lines and others have moved to be Senior Vice Presidents. Those who are good, have impact. Those women and diversity talent acquisition officers get it as well. Some organizations are just recruiting diversity officers. Why? Again, it is the business case.

What is the role of diversity officers today? And what has that role over the past 10 years meant to talent acquisition and talent development?

The role in talent acquisition and talent development is finally a reality and it will grow. It is not just recruiters who make it happen or diversity officers, it is the executives and managers. The role is far more holistic. The role is a bottom line to marketing and communications, community and sustainability.

What about supplier diversity and the supply chain?

The area is growing. The Billion Dollar Roundtable is exemplary of that. There are 16 members who spend more than $1 billion a year with diversity-oriented businesses. The Billion Dollar Roundtable was created in 2001 to recognize and celebrate corporations that achieved spending of at least $1 billion with minority and woman-owned suppliers. But most organizations are now supporting diverse suppliers as good business, bringing mutual benefits. I have the privilege of working with the head of our supply chain practice. She is a great professional and we are “teaming” every day. Cheryl D’Cruz-Young heads our supply chain practice and we work together to build major results, with a sense of passion and a proud sense of delivery.

Edie how are things going for you personally since you joined Diversified Search?

There has been a growing upward trend toward hiring our diversity practice and using our firm. Why? First of all we are certified as the largest woman-owned/diverse executive search firm in the world. We have a major commitment to diversity and our data demonstrates the results. Note that 82 percent of the candidate pools presented to clients across the firm were a mix of racial and female professionals. Note that some 54 percent of the placements were females or diverse candidates. Of the diversity placements of the firm, 27 percent were African American males, 13 percent were Asian males, 47 percent were African American woman and 13 percent were Hispanic women. We calculate a 98 percent retention rate for the candidates placed. Our finding indicates consistent career progression among all placed candidates and even higher rates for women and diverse candidates. On a personal basis, for several decades before I joi ned Diversified Search, I preached diversity with my colleagues and we together were strong advocates and allies. Now I have to practice what I preach and feel a joy each day in either advancing diverse candidates or elation that a company or organization wants us because we are certified as a woman-owned diverse vendor as well.

This concludes Part Two of our interview with Ms. Fraser. To read Part One, please go to HSZ Media news archives.

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