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Ask the HR Expert

Diversity

07/14/08

Recruiting tactics

What are the latest minority/diversity recruitment strategies that work today?

This is an often asked question and one pondered by many employers. I am glad you asked what are the strategies that work today. That implies you want a successful diversity recruitment program, not one that merely scratches or appears to be diverse on the surface.

A successful diversity recruitment strategy would include highlighting your benefits if they include domestic partners. This is especially true in Massachusetts given our same-sex marriage laws. If you do not offer domestic partner benefits, you might explore this possibility.

Ensuring your employees who are not mainstream are featured in company videos, newsletters, websites, etc, is another strategy you may choose to implement. Exhibiting different cultures within your organization will positively affect your recruiting results.

According to recruitment advertising agency Buyer Advertising, "when it comes to specific diversity recruitment tactics, we favor a multi-pronged approach that encompasses organizations like Bottom Line, speakers at events, sponsorships, community outreach, visibility in magazines like Equal Opportunity and Diversity First, radio and the web. Websites such as LinkedIn can help recruiters find diversity candidates through social networking groups."

Include your diversity mission statement (create one if you don't already have one) on your website. No one goes into an interview without first checking out your website, so see this as another opportunity to "brag" about the diversity in your organization.

A lot of companies miss the huge pool of diverse candidates graduating from colleges and universities. Most schools, especially prestigious and well-established ones, have had a major push on recruiting and retaining diverse students. There efforts are truly paying off, with affinity groups such as ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, Native American) gaining popularity on many campuses. The number of diverse graduates has increased by 26 percent over the past ten years. Since the school has already done the recruiting, you get to reap the benefits. Most schools even hold diversity recruitment fairs.

Some of my favorite websites for diversity recruiting include Workplace Diversity, Jobs4Diversity and HBCUconnect, a career center for America's Black Colleges and Universities. I find mining for resumes on diversity websites is especially helpful.

And most definitely, pay attention to the interviewing skills and techniques of those who will be conducting the interviews. While most of us understand and avoid the legal pitfalls of interviewing, we can fall short when it comes to making people not feel different during these one-on-one encounters. Interviews are not the time to have a "wow" moment. The diverse candidate will generally focus on your company's diversity strategies, objectives, accomplishments and benefit offerings, so being genuine and sincere is a proven strategy.

Recruiting is a way of enticing job seekers to select your company over others. Diversity recruiting has the same major goal as any recruitment effort: to fill vacancies with qualified staff. It's no different except that oftentimes you have larger challenges also. I guess the first question one would ask is, why is diversity recruiting different from any other recruiting? We often think there are no differences; I believe there are.

DELORIS TUGGLE

Difference in terms

Is there a difference between the terms "minority" and "diveresity?"

"Diversity" and "minority" are different terms which entail differing strategies. For purposes of referring to people, I prefer not using the term minority. All definitions explaining a minority imply that something or someone is less than the whole; smaller in portion/size; fewer than; different from the majority; or having little power or representation. So, for me, to use the term minority when referring to people who are not mainstream is not my personal preference.

Likewise, many feel diversity is an outdated term that highlights our differences and minimizes our similarities. New terms emerge such as inclusion; full engagement; one workplace, one people; or rainbow concepts. Some idealists omit all terms related to diversity and focus on one workplace.

In many ways, the workplace becomes the conduit for understanding and defining diversity. Whichever term you feel is appropriate for your organization should be okay. Just make sure that it does not sit outside the core or your organization. In other words, while diversity can have a champion within your company, true inclusiveness must be embraced from the top down.

DELORIS TUGGLE

Making employees feel welcome

We recently had a co-worker come out of the closet. Should HR take a role to make this person feel welcome? I have heard a lot about LGBT equal rights issues but do not want to create any problems that do not exist.

Human resources, along with every employee from the CEO to the occasional volunteer, are responsible for making sure each employee feels welcomed regardless of the employee's culture, background, disability/ability, sexual preference, etc. Employees should always be judged by their performance and contributions to the company, and not by their culture, sexual preferences or other non-work related exterior profiles.

Kudos to you that the employee feels safe to reveal his/herself in your workplace, and there probably isn't much you need to do. Since this employee is already a member of your workforce, I would suggest you do nothing more, assuming your company is already in the A+ category when it comes to diversity.

This employee may have gone through counseling, belong to a support group and has perhaps researched "coming out at work" with your specific organization in mind. You should already have policies, procedures, benefits and perhaps affinity groups that support the most common differences in your workplace.

However, on the other hand, there might be much that needs to be done with the staff. Efforts should be taken to make sure this employee is not treated differently than before, inviting and including this employee in the same activities as before is crucial, being sensitive to this employee's transition is paramount and all staff should be reminded that this employee, like all others, is there to integrate their skills into the fabric of the organization with a focus on the mission and vision of the organization, not any one individual.

In speaking with a gay co-worker, he told me that coming out of the closet (especially at work) is usually coupled with a great sense of relief and represents a huge decision. Having employees change the way they treat this employee or reject them because other employees have different, personal information can be more hurtful than being in the closet.

I would suggest you use the basic human resources rule of thumb - we are not here to hurt, but to help. You might also consider asking the employee if there is something you can do to assist with their transition.

DELORIS TUGGLE

New ways of promoting cultural diversity

What are some of the newer and more effective strategies for promoting cultural diversity in the workplace?

Here are four newer and more effective strategies to promote cultural diversity and an older - but very effective - simulation that I highly recommend.

  1. The human race machine
    This machine gives viewers the chance to see themselves as another race. Race today has been shown to be a non-scientific construct and we now know that the DNA of any two people anywhere in the world is 99.97 percent the same. This machine is a stunning springboard from which to teach about the connections among all peoples, as well as provoke conversation about diversity and inclusion.
  2. Country-specific cultural diversity training programs - China, India, Japan, Mexico and Brazil
    These programs provide an immersion in the country's culture, workplace norms, and workplace systems. It is a must for those working with teams, or about to begin work in one of these countries.
  3. Interactive theater
    Actors present scenes illustrating the kinds of workplace dilemmas that cultural diversity can present. After the scene, the actors stay in character so participants can ask questions and learn what was going on in the character's mind and why they acted as they did. This is an enjoyable way to learn about multiple realities and diversity, and is useful for top executives.
  4. On-line training programs.
    In an era of lean training budgets, e-learning is the wave of the future. It is especially useful for companies with managers or employees around the country and the world. Today, e-learning cultural diversity programs are highly interactive, fast-paced and challenging. However, be careful because some of the older ones would put even the most motivated learner to sleep.
  5. Bofa-Bofa
    This simulation which can be completed in three hours does a great job in illustrating the range and variety of issues of cultural diversity. Participants become members of two prototypical cultures, Alpha and Beta. Delegations from each culture exchange visits and try to make sense of what they observe. The miscommunications and misunderstandings that emerge provide fodder for rich discussions about culture.


KATHARINE ESTY

Religious differences

We have one employee who is extremely religious and has a very high moral code of ethics. We welcome diversity in the workplace, but this employee makes many of the other employees uncomfortable.How do I approach this?

Tolerance is a two-way street. Therefore, you need to be sure that you and all employees show tolerance for this religious employee and respect for his or her religious views and practices - no matter how different it is from the mainstream or from your own views. This would include such things as wearing a cross or yarmulke, or taking work time for required prayers. But it is a different story in addressing his or her behaviors. If any behaviors are inappropriate for the workplace - such as distributing religious materials, making derogatory comments about gay people, or denouncing other people's for such things as drinking or playing the lottery, as HR, you need to speak up and perhaps take stronger action if the behavior continues. Give feedback about how his or her comments do not support diversity or a culture of inclusion and this is what the organization stands for. Explain that the comments make others uncomfortable and do not meet the organization's expectations for tolerance.

KATHARINE ESTY


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Jeff Arnold
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Judi Casey
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Katharine Esty
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