Studies have proven that diversity and inclusion are good for business. Diverse teams are more innovative, more profitable, and simply more engaged. One study even found that companies with more diversity were 35 percent more likely to financially outperform competitors in the market.
Even so, many companies are still lagging behind on diversity and inclusion measures in their business. According to Pew Research, women only hold 10 percent of the top executive positions at Fortune 1500 companies in the U.S., and minorities only hold about 30 percent of director positions within Fortune 100 companies.
Achieving equality in business leadership is a strategic process that takes conscious thought and planning. One of the first places to start for improving diversity and inclusion is recruitment. The right recruitment methods and processes are crucial for improving representation throughout the business and particularly on the executive team. If you’re working to improve representation, below are three central executive search recruitment practices you can use to develop diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Look at your current interview panel and determine whether there is very diverse representation. Review age, gender, race, backgrounds, and personalities. If your panel consists mainly of white men, then it’s time to switch up your interview team. It’s important to have people on the panel who will be working closely with the candidate, however, it’s also essential to collect a wide variety of perspectives. Including minorities, women, and other underrepresented people in the interview panel will create more opportunities for a diverse hire.
The interview panel should also be using a prefabricated list of questions, so there should be no issues building the interview team. A premade list of questions serves two purposes during an interview. First, it helps cutdown on unconscious biases by providing every candidate with the same questions and challenges, and second, it makes it easy for your interviewers to ask questions even if they’re not working directly with the candidate.
“Company culture” and “culture fit” are two buzzwords that can be a bit problematic during the interview process. You want someone who fits in at the company, but too often choosing someone based on “culture fit” means you select someone who is comfortable, i.e. the same as everyone already on the team. It often comes down to personality as you’re unconsciously asking yourself the questions: Can I get along with you? Do you understand me? Are we alike? When hiring teams become too focused on culture fit, they start passing up on promising candidates because they feel too different. You want to get along with the person if they’re going to be on your team, but don’t get bogged down by personality alone.
The culture fit crutch can be addressed through a couple of methods. The first has already been mentioned above with diversifying the interview panel. When you have a diverse interview group, a decision based on culture fit alone is less likely to be made. Another way to fix this common interview problem is to simply make employees aware of it. Explain that company culture is important, but it shouldn’t dictate hiring decisions. Ultimately, it’s a small factor in the overall decision-making process.
Industry networking events are great places to recruit promising executive leadership, but companies are overlooking so many other diverse opportunities. A great way to apply targeted networking is to connect with organizations that represent underrepresented groups. Building a relationship with these organizations helps you find new talent pools and also shows potential candidates that you value diversity and inclusion. Start paying attention to multicultural organizations and try attending one of their events so you can begin networking in a different talent pool.
Progress is slowly being made toward more inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplaces, and employees today expect to see companies making a dedicated effort to improve diversity within the company. If it looks like a business isn’t doing their part to represent all types of people, candidates will move on to a more inclusive company. This is especially true when it comes to executive recruiting. Top level candidates have multiple offers at any given point and can afford to be picky with the company they choose. Stay competitive by implementing the three executive search firm practices discussed above to avoid unconscious biases during the interview process and to successfully recruit a more diverse workforce.
Our hands-on executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
Read more of our industry-leading diversity recruiting resources to see why Cowen Partners is a leading diversity and inclusion executive search firm in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond: