By: Dwight Parker, President and CEO of FPS Executive Search, LLC

Many employers have recognized the importance of increasing diversity in their workforce. This should come as no surprise, considering the large body of literature that supports the benefits derived by firms that execute effective diversity strategies. Research has shown that when diversity is managed effectively, it can lead to improved problem-solving, creativity, marketing capabilities, and overall communication within the organization. To ensure that diversity is embraced across every level of the organization both management and senior level executives’ should be supportive of these initiatives. Once this is established, a firm can focus on the various elements within the recruitment, hiring, and retention processes.

There are a number of different tactics that should be considered as part of a firm’s diversity recruiting strategy. One method might be to add personnel that focuses solely on Diversity Recruitment (i.e. Chief Diversity Officer). While this might be a highly effective method, the creation of an additional position may be too expensive for smaller organizations. Another option might include placing ads in diversity focused journals, or on-campus college recruiting. This can also be very effective, but can be extremely time-consuming due to the tediousness associated with the review of numerous resumes, and the travel needed to visit college campuses. Another method might include tapping into your current employee base for new talent. This is often the most effective method because good employees refer good employees. However, if a lack of diversity is currently an issue it is likely to be reflected by a shallow pool of diverse referrals. Another option might be to employ a third party search firm. Again, another highly effective tool, but without a thorough evaluation of your needs they may not capture your corporate vision.

When considering retention, it is important to recognize that this process occurs before, during, and after an employee’s hiring at a firm. Prior to the candidate being hired, it should be the goal of any successful company to create an environment of inclusion where people feel valued and respected. Establishing this type of company culture creates an optimal environment for the arrival of any new-hire. Once the candidate is hired, diversity may be managed by utilizing tools such as mentoring and employee resource groups (ERGs). Research related to ERGs has found them particularly effective in reducing turnover rates associated with managerial-level minority employees. Mentoring can also be effective when the mentor is truly interested in the mentees career goals, as opposed to someone who is simply assigned to keep an eye on them. Finally, exit interviews should be conducted to identify any unhealthy patterns of activity that might prove harmful to the retention process. These can be an effective tool when the firm is willing to act on the information gathered.

It is important to acknowledge that increasing the diversity in a company’s workforce can represent a true paradigm shift, and may take years to achieve. But, when carried out successfully, it can have positive effects on every level of the organization. Ultimately, this will be determined by the feasibility of the strategy, how well it is implemented, and the level of commitment within the firm.

Dwight Parker

Parker has worked across various areas of corporate America for over ten years. His areas of expertise include banking, sales and marketing, pharmaceuticals, and management.