Diversity Extends Beyond Hiring, Requires Engaged Leadership, Summit Told

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By Caryn Freeman

Dec. 9 — Diversity doesn't end at the hiring stage; it needs to extend into talent management, compensation and other areas of a company, panelists said Dec. 5 at the Washington chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources 2014 DiversitySummit.

Moreover, they said, executive teams that are comfortable in diverse environments are more likely to have a diverse workforce and a truly inclusive culture.

Rodney Scaife, panelist and director of human resources and client services at multi-national jewelry manufacturer Pandora Jewelry, said he has noticed throughout his career that a lack of exposure to diversity is common among leadership.

“The organization can attend diversity events, [leaders] can speak at these events, companies can do all of the things that look like on paper they're doing things correctly; however, if leaders don't allow themselves to be vulnerable and deal with their biases and their fears, those biases and fears will disrupt building a diverse culture,” he said.

Scaife said having a strategy where organizations are held accountable for not only recruiting diverse talent, but developing it as well, is critical. He added that all groups, including white males, must feel they are part of the inclusion culture. “If they're not included, you're now practicing the opposite of what diversity and inclusion should be,” he said

Scaife said an effective D&I strategy can grow organically out of the things managers and executives do in their everyday workdays.

“Executives speak to people, build relationships, go out to dinner, have drinks,” Scaife said. “They do all of these things on a regular basis. Just develop a strategy where they bring some different people in and invite some different folks. That really helps leadership become more comfortable being with different groups every day.”

Hiring Is Just the First Step

Shan Teal, senior manager of talent acquisition and D&I at XO Communications, said that looking at turnover data helped demonstrate to the telecommunications firm's executive team why a diversity strategy that went beyond recruiting was good for the company.

“Once we started looking at turnover and including questions around diversity in the exit interview, we saw that we were losing some of our best talent because we didn't create an environment where they could excel,” she said.

Teal explained that it's not enough to just bring people into the organization; managers should be held accountable for promoting them as well. “Look at the rates of promotion,” she said. “Those numbers indicate that you are not only bringing people in but you're strengthening the organization by developing that talent. That's where D&I normally falls off.”

Teal told Bloomberg BNA after the summit: “It's not just recruiting. You have to develop them, you have to expose them, you have to mentor them, they have to be coached or else they will never be promoted. That helps force the organization to focus on the various areas of talent management and thus connect talent management to their D&I strategy.”

Compensation Linked to Diversity Efforts

Dawnita Wilson, panel moderator and director of market engagement and special projects in the office of D&I at Sodexo, told the summit that tying compensation and bonus packages to D&I has helped keep leaders at the food services and facilities management company engaged in the process.

“Anyone at Sodexo who is bonus eligible has D&I tied to their bonus structure,” she said. “It is standard across the board. We do that because we want our leaders to stay engaged in the diversity effort.”

Wilson told Bloomberg BNA in an interview after the panel that Sodexo tracks diversity recruitment, hiring and promotions. “What we really want to do is ensure hiring managers and leaders are getting out into the community and are representing our organization as a diverse culture,” she said. “To get that bonus, they have to have done those things. That is the expectation, and everyone is on board.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at cfreeman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com