August 15, 2022 – It is by now widely known that diversity and inclusion are good for business—especially for high-powered companies. When considering high-quality candidates for new C-suite positions, what are some policies, procedures, or practices that business leaders can implement to diversify their hires? To answer this question, Carl Kutsmode, SVP of talent consulting and executive search at TalentRISE, recently reported on the subject in an online post.
According to Mr. Kutsmode, there are at least six good ways to diversify the C-suite:
1. Invest in employment branding to highlight diversity in your organization.
“This is how to attract the best DEI leaders and staff,” said Mr. Kutsmode. “Also consider creating tailored job applicant experiences for different target talent groups. From there, ensure that those messages, images, etc. are representative of the diversity you seek to attract (and currently have).”
2. Use video to tell your story of being an inclusive organization.
Why tell people your employees bring their best and whole self to work when you can show them? “Video is 55 times more search engine optimized and will be shared more than text content by job candidates who resonate with the content,” said Mr. Kutsmode. “Tools like SparcStart, Hinterview, and Digi-Me offer turnkey video creation tools to enhance your brand and share your message using video.”
3. Leverage the power of PR.
Get your leaders who represent various diverse groups in the media—and don’t forget to represent members of the LGBTQ, military, or differently abled communities, according to Mr. Kutsmode. “Your leaders should be speaking on hot trends while representing your brand, sharing their vision for your company, and highlighting your company’s key selling points making it a great place to work,” he said.
4. Embrace and incorporate diverse thoughts and experiences into hiring strategies.
Mr. Kutsmode notes that hiring managers tend to get stuck on requiring new hires to come from within their industry when, in many cases, their industry lags in adopting leading-edge best practices. With this mindset, these leaders cut off many well qualified people from progressive and forward-thinking industries who can bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and proven solutions to challenges they encounter in their role.
5. Have a formal diversity recruitment strategy and goals.
Your diversity strategy should include promoting diverse talent from within in addition to hiring diverse talent from outside your company. “Clearly communicate and track progress against your diversity hiring goals,” said Mr. Kutsmode. “Appropriately (and selectively) share your results and progress internally and externally so that talent in the marketplace can see you are committed to DEI and putting action behind words. This will help you attract employees who seek to leave a company that lives in a ‘check the box’ diversity compliance culture.”
6. Become a recognized destination employer that diverse talent wants to work for.
Consider submitting applications to qualify for the Forbes, Fortune, and Diversity Inc. annual list of top diverse employers to work for lists and other similar awards. Then use them in your recruitment advertising and branding efforts if you make their list as a winner.
Challenges Facing Women
While great strides have been made in placing women in leadership positions, they still experience challenges that men don’t while attempting to advance their careers in companies, on boards, and in government, according to a separate report from Pete Petrella, executive search practice leader at TalentRISE. The U.S. has a multitude of college-educated women who are qualified to fill leadership positions but yet they still face barriers on their way to the top.
There are encouraging signs that diversity, equity, and inclusion is becoming a key factor for companies looking for new talent. Challenges remain, however. In a new report, Odgers Berndtson suggests that businesses ask three key questions early on to improve their efforts: Where are you on your DEI journey, really? How will you support diverse hires once they’re on board? And why are you making a diverse hire in the first place?
According to a recent Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) report, women experience challenges that their male counterparts don’t when attempting to advance their careers. Nine percent of HR professionals describe their organization’s leaders as predominantly women, whereas 50 percent describe their organization’s senior leaders as predominantly men. Only 61 percent of women say their manager encourages them to grow their career compared to 71 percent of men.
White female managers (65 percent)—and especially female managers of color (57 percent)— are less likely to feel included in key networks at their organization than male managers of color (68 percent) and white male managers (73 percent).
Female managers with caregiving responsibilities (35 percent) are more likely to have experienced a pandemic-related career setback than their male counterparts (26 percent).
Barriers Women Face
Over the past several decades, women have overcome multiple barriers in the workplace, but still, hold only 21 percent of C-suite positions. Below are some barriers they face that continue to delay and challenge their progress:
Structural: “When they lack access to established professional networks, women face structural barriers,” said Mr. Petrella. “Women are less likely to be invited to social activities where they can interact with a network of colleagues that can assist them in advancing their careers.”
Institutional: Gender stereotyping results in unequal and unfair treatment toward women. Institutional barriers—such as stereotypes that portray brilliance as a male trait—hold women back from a wide range of prestigious careers research conducted by scientists at New York University, University of Denver, and Harvard University has shown.
Personal mindset: Women are often their own biggest critics. Lack of confidence and risk aversion frequently hold them back from seeking leadership positions, according to Mr. Petrella. “Because of this, many women have opted to work for private sector, non-profit, or start-up companies where there are more female owners, leaders, and employees,” he said.
Lifestyle: Caregiver priorities often contribute to the gender gap. According to the TalentRISE report, when a woman is the primary family breadwinner, she’s usually also the primary caregiver. In comparison, when a man is the primary family breadwinner, he is not usually the primary caregiver, too.
What your organization can do to attract and retain women for leadership roles?
A Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey found that women are better than—or equal to—men in seven of the eight primary leadership traits (honest, intelligent, hardworking, decisive, ambitious, compassionate, outgoing, and creative). Companies must make intentional efforts to attract and retain women for leadership roles.
Support female leaders: “To support the female leaders within your organization, ensure your offering mentorship, professional networking, and development opportunities for all employees,” Mr. Petrella said.
Identify hidden biases: HR leaders must consider every worker qualified for a position and make sure that all skilled employees are offered equal opportunities.
Develop a DEI&B strategy: “To attract and retain women talent for leadership roles, be sure to develop a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging strategy that’s data-driven to track your progress and identify gaps,” said Mr. Petrella.
Workplace diversity increases creativity, brings unity to teams, and transparently displays equal opportunity, according to Mr. Petrella. “When women thrive in leadership roles, organizations benefit from increased productivity and greater innovation,” he said. “Companies that don’t work to create an inclusive leadership environment—with equitable opportunities for all employees—will face challenges in attracting and retaining their top female talent.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media