Spotlight: Presenting a Diverse Slate of Candidates

November 15, 2022 – Blue Rock Search is a 100 percent minority/female-owned executive search firm. As a member of the SRA Network, the firm is also a Hunt Scanlon HR/Diversity Recruiting Power 65 recruiter. After a 25-year career in corporate human resources and HR executive search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “change lives and organizations one relationship at a time.”

Mr. Moreno leads the Blue Rock HR executive search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of chief HR officers and chief diversity officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in talent acquisition, total rewards, HRBP’s, learning & OD, HR technology, HR operations, and HR analytics. Mr. Moreno has helped place hundreds of HR executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. Mr. Moreno recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how he works with his clients to provide a diverse slate of candidates and why this is so important.

What are some benefits of having a diverse leadership team? Why is it essential today?
From any angle you look at it, diversity — especially at the top levels of an organization — is a win. Positive movement on DEI has a positive impact on business outcomes, from recruiting top talent to increasing profits. Besides all of the financial and practical motivations, having a diverse leadership team is simply the right thing to do. And without that kind of diversity modeled at the highest levels, top-tier candidates at any level may look at the company and feel that there is no room for them to advance, or that the organization isn’t interested in making room for them at the top. It is absolutely essential for any company looking to grow and succeed in today’s world to walk the walk when it comes to DEI, and that means ensuring that those values are reflected all the way up to senior leadership.

Have companies been living up to their DEI promises?
I have found that with the majority of our clients, there’s definitely been an increase in focus on ensuring diverse candidate slates and hiring diverse talent. My short answer would be yes; I think the focus has been there, we have definitely seen the increase in the number of diverse leaders that we’ve placed. It’s given us a great opportunity to increase the number of senior leaders in large, well-known organizations. The other piece that I would tell you is I think we’re going through an adjustment period right now. And if you think about what has happened since 2020, there have been quite a few chief diversity officers hired. There is a recent article that was published that said the role has the highest turnover in the executive ranks. Part of the challenge there is, while we’re increasing the numbers, and folks are getting hired into the right job, then it really becomes a matter of the appropriate resourcing that we have the right culture.

Do people feel like they belong in these new environments? Do you work with clients in that regard?
We are an executive search firm, but I have several clients where we’ve actually gone in to talk about how do you create a culture and environment from a belonging perspective? Probably one of the quickest and most effective ways to ensure that we go from candidate hire to driving retention is having a very well thought out and deliberate onboarding plan. And we have a very well thought out and highly prescriptive 60-day onboarding plan for all leaders.

What are some top skills for today’s leadership teams?
Today’s leadership teams face a number of challenges, from organizational culture to a tight labor market to economic challenges and more. The best leaders to take the reins in moments like these are leaders who are flexible, creative, and attentive to the shifting needs of the organization and its people. Leading with compassion, clarity, and level-headedness is crucial, as is the ability to adapt as the situation warrants. There can be a temptation, especially during challenging times, to look for leaders who offer sprawling, transformative visions of the future. Transformative thinking isn’t a bad thing at all — it’s necessary for continued improvement and growth. But that kind of big-picture thinking alone does not make for a truly excellent leader. Today’s leadership teams need to be skilled in balancing the immediate demands with a long-term plan, all while being excellent communicators to ensure that everyone in the organization, at every level, understands what’s happening and is able to stick together. Holding a team together is crucial, especially in a world where the majority of workers admit they’re open to leaving their current organizations.

What types of backgrounds are recruiters looking for in candidates today?
Right now, recruiters are looking for candidates who have the skills and experience necessary to lead through challenges while also looking to the future. It’s not necessarily a question so much of how many years do they have or what titles have they held, but more about what they uniquely bring to the table and what their leadership would look like, in context of what organizations are looking for today. That means that resilience, flexibility, and creativity are critical in leadership searches today. We’re seeing recruiters and organizations look for thinkers who can help find new paths forward but who are also make it happen people, not just big dreamers. It’s not just about finding people with leadership experience – it’s about finding candidates with experience leading in ways that really make a difference.

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