Nine Strategies to Hire Diversity of Thought In Your Organization

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By Simma Lieberman

Published with permission of the author from her blog.

 

Are you serious about leveraging the diverse skills and talents of your workforce to create new products and services that will make your customers take notice time and time again?

If you want to be ahead of the competition, and bring in more innovation, then think with a  “diversity of thought” mindset.

If you always recruit from the same places, with the same methods, you will always get the same people.

In today’s competitive market you need to be creative. You have to go where the candidates are and have a long enough lead-time to get a good selection of candidates.

Here are nine winning strategies to ensure you hire employees that bring diversity of thought.

 

College Recruitment

Research and develop a list of colleges that historically have large numbers of women, people with disabilities, and people from different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Send recruiting teams to those schools.

 

Beyond The Right Fit

Expand your recruiters’ perspective. They may be conscious of recruiting people across the diversity spectrum, but are they looking for people who are the “exact right fit” meaning people who think exactly like you? On the other hand, are they listening and looking for people with new ideas, who are creative problem solvers, and innovators?

Are they looking for people who look different than you, but who buy their suits at the same place, or are they going beyond the suit, shoes, and haircut, to recruit employees who bring diversity of thought and innovation to your business?

 

Network Out of Your Comfort Zone

A CEO of a facilities management company wanted to hire more female managers.

Rather than recruiting from his industry, he started attending meetings of women in real estate. “I wanted to find women who would bring different experiences so we could get fresh ideas. I looked for women who understood property management from the client’s perspective, and would challenge the way we’ve always worked. We now have several women in decision making positions as a result, and we’ve been able to better serve our clients.”

 

Diversify Interviewers

Your criteria for interviewing and hiring should never be based on someone who went to the same school, is the same religion or shares your gender or sexual orientation. Have a diverse panel conduct interviews so you can get other perspectives.

 

Cultivate Talent

Begin to recruit from middle and high schools. Attend career days and come prepared to discuss the benefits of working for your organization and your industry. Talk to teachers and other students to find out if someone has an interest in a subject related to your industry. A client recently told me a story about going to a high school. They met a student who didn’t have the highest grades. It appeared at first glance they didn’t appear to be a potential candidate for their organization.

However in talking to one of the science teachers, he discovered that the young man was brilliant in physics and math. My client jokingly said, “I think I may have found our next Nobel Prize winner.” He was so impressed with the young man, he established a mentoring relationship with him. He wanted the student to be an intern when he gets to college, and of course be hired on day.

 

Promote Recruitment Needs Through Social Media

Contact various student groups on mainstream campuses and ask them to suggest the best candidates, or include notices about your organization in their newsletters, Linkedin groups, or other social media used for communication. Post links to articles about your company on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Student peers may be aware of the hidden genius of others who are not in the limelight.

 

Cultivate Relationships with Diversity Groups

Develop relationships with diversity related organizations; BLACK STUDENT UNION, NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS ORGANIZATION, ASIAN-AMERICAN STUDENT UNION, MECHA, LGBT organizations, etc) and sponsor events with them.

Spend time listening, and getting to know people how are potential recruits. Ask them for their insights and observations about your organization, and what they would change or do different.

Organizations grow dramatically and exponentially increase their market share when they bring together people who are different from each other. Diverse cultures, religions, sexual orientations, genders, and ethnicities in organizations provide different perspectives to solve problems and create new products.

One of your jobs as a leader is to access and mine that diversity of thought. Let it shine or your organization and the people in it will wilt and fall behind. The choice yours. Hire creatively.

 

Simma Lieberman is the Principal of The Inclusionist, a human resources practice of Simma Lieberman Associates (www.simmalieberman.com). She creates inclusive cultures where employees love to do their best work. She is based in Berkeley, California. She can be reached at simma@simmalieberman.com.