How Some Companies Are Expanding Diversity Initiatives

Diversity is good for business. Research has established that companies with diverse workforces have better financial returns and are more innovative—it's just a fact that well-integrated, diverse teams are more effective than those that aren't.

Expanding Diversity Initiatives

Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have returns above national industry medians, according to a McKinsey study. A study from Bersin by Deloitte found that over a three-year period, diverse companies see 2.3 times the cash flow per employee when compared to their less diverse peers.

Diverse companies are sound businesses for another reason: They are magnets for top performers.

Rethink Strategies

It’s no secret some companies do a better job with diversity and inclusion. So what's the secret sauce? Companies embedding diversity and inclusion in their recruiting efforts to find the best talent are rethinking their approach toward locating candidates, which include candidates they’ve sourced, candidates that have been referred by employees and those that have applied.

Companies such as United Technologies, Ford Motor Company, GE Power and Northrup Grumman participate in the STEM Re-entry Task Force Program, which recruits women and minorities who took a career break and want to return to the workforce. The program is organized by The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and iRelaunch in partnership with major engineering firms.

“Returnship programs address the demand for experienced technical leaders in STEM and provides a solution to closing the gender gap with engineering and technology organizations,” said Karen Horting, CEO and executive director of SWE, “There is a hidden talent pool of technical women on career breaks who often have trouble breaking through the barriers of the interview process, despite their qualified skill set.”, a digital banking company powered by artificial intelligence, looks for “immigrant recruiting events, women in tech events, and underrepresented groups to send materials and staff to and recruit from,” said Robin Monk, director of engineering. The company’s screening tests are “gender neutral, and anyone reviewing those tests isn’t informed of the gender or race of the applicant," allowing candidates to be scored fully on their ability.

A Holistic Approach

East Coast Executives, a search firm with a focus on diversity recruitment, addresses diversity pipelines for Fortune 500 and SMB companies. “What we've noticed is that the organizations that look holistically at their diversity and inclusion efforts tend to have more success at meeting the goals of their D&I mission statements, if they actually have one,” said Kenneth L. Johnson, president of the firm. “This approach takes the onus off of one particular position or department and allows for diverse talent to be presented across all levels of an organization. This leads to an increase in diversity candidate presentations from the talent acquisition team and/or third party recruiting partner, increased internal and external referrals and the opportunity to share ‘diversity success stories’ across all levels of the organization."

“When the C-Suite executives embrace, nurture and commit to a defined strategy for adding diversity, it rarely fails to deliver positive results to the corporate culture and the bottom line,” Johnson said.

At Lyft, recruiters are adjusting their diversity pipeline strategy. Recruiters research and engage with diverse communities that aren't part of its network to make the company a part of existing conversations. External events in the community also build relationships that can provide a more varied group of applicants.

Expand The Pipeline

Companies such as Verizon have hosted virtual career fairs to tap into a wider talent pool. Another tactic is to use social media to source possible candidates. For example, recruiters at Kaiser Permanente join diverse LinkedIn groups. In 2015, Intel Capital, Intel Corporation’s global investment organization, launched its $125 million Intel Capital Diversity Fund to invest in technology start-ups operated by minorities. Last year it expanded the fund to include U.S.-based entrepreneurs from the LGBTQ community, entrepreneurs living with disabilities and military veterans.

Other efforts to drive diversity include recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs); showcasing Employee Resource Group activities on social media channels; partnering with professional associations such as the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), which has a scholarship fund and outreach program; enhancing employee-referral recruiting programs; and, hosting virtual career fairs.

Diverse companies employ people with different perspectives and experiences, fostering innovation and better decision-making while incorporating basic human rights principles. That's a winning combination for any company.

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