Cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace can drive meaningful, quantifiable change across your business and directly affect your bottom line. Creating the kind of environment in which all employees feel welcome and embraced doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires time, effort, and a strategic, thoughtful approach.
That’s where Cindy Joseph, the Managing Partner and Founder of The Cee Suite, comes in.
With two decades of experience under her belt, Joseph has helped countless organizations navigate that transition. We recently got the chance to sit down with Joseph, who shared important lessons from her career and offered tips and tricks businesses can implement to attract and hire top underrepresented talent.
I think top talent falls into two categories: Those who are high performers today versus those who will be several years from now. There’s one trait, though, that’s at the underpinning of future top talent: adaptability.
Technology often causes a shift in job responsibilities and how we work. Is the candidate illustrating an openness to growing their skills? Do they possess intellectual curiosity for continued development? This is important because the answers employees have today for issues may no longer be the answers tomorrow.
Some other traits that I think are important are having a strong work ethic, being accountable and dependable, and possessing strong communication and collaboration skills. High performers always have a mix of both soft and hard skills.
The lack of diversity among STEM employees is not for a lack of trying, but a lack of the right effort. These systemic diversity and inclusion issues weren’t created overnight, yet too many companies think they can solve the problems in one fell swoop. Organizations believe they can recruit their way out of it, but that doesn’t address the holistic issues that cause top talent to avoid joining—or leave—your company.
The biggest issue I see is, too many people are fishing in the same pond. Companies are sourcing from the same spots—alumni connections are one example—instead of teaming up with local and national organizations that support underrepresented STEM talent. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, and Grace Hopper are just a few examples of organizations that you can partner with.
I think organizations can get a couple of quick wins without too much pain on their end. They just need to think about their current practices differently.
Referral programs come with several benefits—higher retention rates and quicker time-to-hire, per LinkedIn—but also have one major drawback: an increased likelihood of homogeneity. According to PayScale, white men are 40 percent more likely to be the recipient of employee referrals.
Here’s a great opportunity instead to tie in D&I goals for your program: Some companies offer a referral bonus to employees who recommend underrepresented candidates, but simply challenging your people to refer more underrepresented talent is a great improvement over the typical referral campaign.
You should also evaluate who’s engaging and interviewing candidates. If you want to create a more diverse workforce, you need to have employees representing all groups involved in the recruitment and interview processes. Potential workers need to see themselves reflected in your company culture.
Structured interviews are an efficient way to accomplish this. They require fewer team members to be involved in interviews, so your company increases productivity. They remove biased interviews and evaluations, so your organization passes a more qualified, diverse pool of candidates. And they allow your hiring team to make quicker decisions, so you decrease your time-to-hire.
Your organization’s will and commitment to D&I factors into whether you’re successful or not. If you have both, you’ll start seeing changes that put you on the right path to a fully represented company.