« Insights

Will the Real Diversity Please Stand Up?

Terry Farber Eliasaf | Sept. 20, 2022

Diversity is about more than how many women or people of color are employed by any given organization, at any given time. It’s about creating a safe space for equally talented people to lead. If you’re not sure that your organization is really diverse, or you want to learn more about diversity that isn’t just skin deep, this week’s blog post is for you, and, as usual, we’re here to help you achieve real diversity at your workplace, through our (global) executive search services.

Affirmative action. Black Lives Matter. #Metoo. Paid parental leave. Pay equity. Intersectionality. Neurodiversity. Allies. Emotional tax. Equality. Inclusion.

All of the above are significant buzzwords and hot topics in the working world today, but what do they really mean to you, and how should they affect your organization, its culture, and practices?

After all, when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it’s safe to say that we all agree that it should be implemented and maintained. However, there seems to be a lack of consensus regarding what exactly workplace diversity policies and practices should entail, so they both include a wide range of people from all walks of life and help ensure that your company consistently performs its best.

Do you understand what workplace diversity should look like, and how your organization is meant to achieve this goal?

Real diversity isn’t skin deep

When it comes to workplace diversity, there is a need to differentiate between token or symbolic diversity, and real, impactful diversity. The former looks something like this: you walk into an office space and are greeted by faces of all colors and genders. There’s Nora the Indian secretary (checks of the female and Pan-Asian boxes), Max the LGBTQ+ programmer whose pronouns are “they/them,” Simeon the intern of African descent, and Lois, who has a physical disability and requires an aide to perform certain day-to-day tasks. Is it nice that people of diverse backgrounds have all been given the opportunity to work for the organization and be a part of something great? Sure. However, it is also possible that these people were hired because of “who they are,” rather than “what they can bring to the table.” They serve as tokens of the company’s “wokeness” and diversity, potentially at the expense of the business’ productivity and profits.

While diversity protocols requiring companies to hire X people from X backgrounds seem like the future-forward way to go, in their most basic state, they are actually quite discriminatory: they prevent the best possible people from being hired to fill key open positions. No, this isn’t a ploy to get more cis-gender white men into positions of leadership. Rather, it’s a strong belief in the fact that when HR departments focus on hiring X women, X people of color, X people with disabilities, etc. for a specific number of positions, they run the risk of missing out on people who possess the skills, experience, motivation, and creativity needed to actually lead companies to success.

Imagine the following scenario: a company holds blind interviews for several open positions within its executive leadership team. Candidates fill out forms with the information that really matters - their technical and soft skills, major achievements, and what they feel they bring to the table - and then sit behind a screen for the interview questions, so that their face is never seen, until an offer is made (and ideally accepted). No questions are asked about marital status, age, or other potentially discriminatory factors. Rather, the candidate is seen for who they are on the inside, instead of what’s reflected by their gender identity, ethnic background, or other potentially discriminatory data. As such, the organization is able to hire a group of people who are genuine leaders, and while they may be diverse in the way they look and present themselves to the public, their REAL diversity shines through in the innovative decisions and competitive advantages they bring to the company as a whole, conceptually and practically.

What kind of leader are you looking for? What knowledge, experience, and expertise should they possess? Do you want to bring in executives from your specific field, or would your organization benefit from someone who displayed real leadership, in an entirely different ecosystem? The answers to all of these questions are entirely up to you and the goals your organization intends to achieve.

Going beyond token diversity

Embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion practices within every fiber of your organization’s DNA so that it is authentic and holistic, rather than symbolic, is not without its challenges. You will have to step outside of your comfort zone, abandon preconceived notions of what diversity means, identify meaningful reasons to hire people from all walks of life, adapt your hiring practices to focus on measurable, value-based diversity, and search for talented leaders from different networks - even across the globe!

At Hunter, we help organizations achieve real diversity by helping you identify the right people, for the right jobs. We work with you to clearly define the criteria for each open position, and search for your ideal partners who are best positioned to lead with their diverse skill sets, perspectives, and operational approaches. In doing so, we help you help your leaders bring their authentic selves to the office, each and every day, so that they feel safe, included, and empowered to take necessary actions and risks, to grow your business.

Are you ready to go beyond and assimilate a truly diverse leadership culture in your place of work? Talk to us about your diverse executive search needs, today! >> https://hunter.co.il/en/contact/