The United States population is undoubtedly diverse. In the last 20 years, there were huge increases in the percentage of women, immigrants, and people from various ethnic groups and different cultural backgrounds. Fifty percent of America's workforce is now of another ethnicity or culture! In some areas of California, multicultural workers comprise 70 percent of the workforce. In Oxnard, or Santa Ana, California, Laredo, Texas, El Paso, Texas, and other U.S. Cities, multicultural workers account for 90 percent of the workforce. There are staggering increases—700- 900%—of multicultural populations in Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa, and other places.
For government and corporations to be competitive, innovative, and to secure and keep a market share, it is imperative to recruit, engage and retain a diverse workforce. Building a diverse workforce brings the energy and the creativity to the workforce. An environment of inclusion, where people feel valued and integrated into a company’s mission and vision regardless of their cultural backgrounds will lead to greater productivity. The dimensions of diversity are used as resources for success and growth by government and corporations.
To be able to create a diverse pool of candidates, a company has to go to where the candidates are.
Colleges historically have large numbers of women and people from different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Career days at middle and high schools in racially diverse areas is another outlet to discuss the benefits of working for your organization and your industry—get people interested in the field before they go to college.
Suppliers and vendors that champion diversity should be encouraged and are likely to help funnel a steady number of high-qualified and diverse candidates.
An internal system that informs employees of available positions would help spread the word and attract new candidates. The hiring process would need to be simplified to encourage new prospective employees.
It goes without saying that hiring should be based on qualifications and not on comfort level. But it is easier said than done. Humans tend to empathize with those they feel close to, those that resemble themselves. This notion needs to be understood intellectually, but also be practiced daily in the field.
The definition of effective leadership qualities needs to be reviewed. One has to be mindful of biases about other cultures, communication styles, and decision-making processes to not interfere with a recruiting and the hiring decision.
One way for an organization to develop an in-house diversified pool of talent is to continually mentor people who are from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds and to incorporate ideas from other cultures to solve problems and be more innovative.
The recruiting process is the gateway to the company. Conducting interviews with a diverse panel will encourage other perspectives, and lend for better interaction with candidates. The recruiting teams who have been trained in diversity and inclusion awareness are willing to go beyond their comfort zone to attract the best candidates. Diversity training will mitigate and reduce the impact that biases and stereotypes have on the work environment. Cross-cultural communication training helps staff work well together and be more effective. Outside recruiters hired by any company should not only have a positive track record, but also have a diverse workforce themselves.
A carefully designed media, public relations and advertising strategy is imperative for an organization to attain diversity and sustain a diverse work force.
Diversity should be part of the mission statement and should be prominently displayed. New diversity initiatives, internal changes made regarding diversity and diversity goals that have been met by an organization should be widely communicated to identify the company as a good place to work. Recruits will look for alternative employers when companies do not state and show a high value for diversity.
Relationships with ethnic community leaders and community organizations will generate good will and demonstrate that the company values the community as a source for hiring future employees. Also, potential qualified candidates will not shy away or be intimidated, but will be motivated to apply and pursue careers in companies and organizations perceived to be a “friend of the community.”
Advertising in ethnic media not only allows an organization to communicate directly (and at a reduced cost)with a targeted demographic, but it also brands the company as a friend of the community. It makes it tangible, attainable and encourages candidates and their influencers to be more receptive towards it as a potential employer.
Relationships with diversity-related organizations like African American student unions, Hispanic and Latino student organizations, and Asian-American university scholars, as well as with ethnically diverse professional associations and organizations, such as Asian MBA and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce can be invaluable tools to communicate with a professional and diverse population. Ultimately it will lead to an increase flow of qualified and diverse candidates walking through the company’s front door.
Don’t let your biases exclude excellent candidates.
Author: Mostapha Saout , CEO of Allied Media Corp., is an expert in ethnic community outreach strategies and ethnic media dynamics, relevance and penetration. He has been speaking to the US media, government and Corporations on how best to communicate with emerging ethnic communities, about the Importance of certain symbols, choice of words, relevance of particular cultural items… Mostapha Saout has also been visible in public speaking about ethnic media, its coverage, its tone and perspective, as well as how the US is portrayed abroad and what it can be do to present an alternative and positive image. M. Saout has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, ABC Radio, Fox News, Philadelphia inquirer and several other media outlets.