By Dwain H. Celistan, Executive Vice President and Global Diversity Practice Leader, DHR International

Dwain H. Celistan

Dwain H. Celistan

In the first quarter of 2014, less than 10 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs were diverse (defined for this article as gender and ethnicity). Data for other leadership levels within these organizations are not as readily available, but most sources suggest that the percentage of direct CEO reports, as well as the next level of direct reports, is also less than 10 percent.

Many organizations have modest levels of diverse leaders—or none at all. But there is a way to remedy this situation. When an opening for a leader presents itself, and an external candidate is required, a search firm can help source strong diverse talent. DHR International is particularly strong in this regard, since a third of our placements are diverse.

Sourcing and securing diverse leadership talent can be challenging. However, it is a hurdle that can be overcome, as illustrated by this case study:

The leader of a large procurement team for a Fortune 50 company, with responsibilities of over $3 billion, was looking for additional leadership talent. Because of the capabilities required, he needed to look outside his organization. Candidates for these leadership positions would have to 1) lead in a manner consistent with the company’s core values and 2) demonstrate a high level of competence. The pool also needed to include diverse talent.

The two positions had been open for nearly a year, during which time the search continued through the company’s internal efforts and those of a contingent search firm. Thus, the company demonstrated patience and a commitment to the high expectations originally set for these new leaders.

The organization selected DHR International, led by Executive Vice President Dwain Celistan, to fill the two positions. DHR International is a Top 5 global search firm with a commitment to identifying great talent and including diverse talent as part of candidate slates.

For this organization, a successful candidate pool would have to 1) come from a narrow industry group, 2) achieve a desired score on two third-party assessments, and 3) include diverse talent. DHR International sourced the talent requested. It required extra effort to identify diverse candidates that met the criteria.

Following an extensive interview process, the two positions were filled with diverse candidates. The pool proved to be so rich that a third diverse candidate was selected for another position.

In summary, the organization was able to hire three diverse leaders whose leadership styles were consistent with the culture for these challenging and important roles. In fact, one of the newly hired leaders was promoted within two years. These fantastic results—as well as subsequent process improvements and millions of dollars saved—led to an expanded partnership between that organization and DHR International.

For information about how DHR International can help your organization, regardless of size, to expand diversity in its leadership team, please contact Dwain H. Celistan, Executive Vice President and Global Diversity Practice Leader, at [email protected], or call 312-782-1581.