Do you think Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives begin and end with hiring? Think again. Your next hire is just one decision of many that can affect your D&I metrics. You need to go beyond hiring initiatives to create a real and lasting impact.
Go Beyond Hiring
A prospective client, the HR director of a small investment firm, called me to inquire about D&I programming. After some small talk, I asked if there was a problem they were trying to solve, or if they had a goal in mind for the session.
She replied candidly, “I’m having trouble getting some of the managers on board with our diversity initiative. We’re a small firm with very little turnover. They asked me if I was going to fire ten people and hire for diversity. This got me thinking. What can we do to show diversity and inclusion is a priority for us, if we’re not hiring anytime soon?”
This is not a unique concern. I talk to owners of small and medium-sized businesses all the time. They want to do the right thing. They want the innovation, sustainability, and profitable growth that come with a diverse workforce. Here are some ideas I
Include the People You Already Have
Find out, to a person, what makes each of your employees feel included or excluded. Talk to everyone to learn what the trouble spots are, or bring in trained facilitators to help you. Chances are, your employees already see the firm from very different perspectives. Ask them how you can do better.
Work with Diverse Suppliers
Whether you’re looking for printer paper, toilet paper, or an event caterer, there are probably dozens of diverse suppliers in your area who can meet your needs. Rather than sending your office manager a big-box store, invest in your community be seeking out a minority-, woman-, or veteran-owned vendor. Your local Chambers of Commerce (yes, there are several in every city), WBENC regional partner, or NMSDC office are a good place to start.
Broaden Your Funds and Portfolios
Admittedly, I know very little about investment management. Still I have to imagine that fund managers make decisions everyday that affect millions of people’s jobs and livelihoods. With this in mind, put some intention around the firm’s investment products and its own investments. Adherence to ethics guidelines, diverse board representation, and transparency around pay equity all contribute to a company’s long-term success. Some investors will be especially interested in products that both do good and perform well.
This one is specific to the client I referenced, but look for ways to apply this kind of thinking to your own business’s offerings and operations.
Mind Your Philanthropy and Pipeline
Your firm probably helps fund fellowships, scholarships, internships, and other “feeder” programs for aspiring financiers. Look outside the alma maters of your founders. Intentionally invest in students at HBCUs, for example, to maximize your impact and to create a sustainable talent pipeline.
Pay Attention to Your Hiring Processes, Too
You may be six months away from hiring your next employee. Now is a great time to shore up your selection process. Review job descriptions for bias, create a system for reviewing resumes, implement training for conducting interviews. Look in new places to be sure your talent pipeline isn’t artificially limited to exclude veterans, women, Black and brown people, or people from the “wrong” Ivy League school. It’s much easier to fix these problems now, than when you’re scrambling to find a new team member.
TL;DR: In Summary…
Think beyond hiring if you’re really committed to sustainability, profitability, innovation, and inclusion in your organization.