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Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

If you can’t tell by the title, I am a little bit ticked! I’ve just gotten off the phone with a close friend who managed to get me all stirred up about the intersection of these three topics: diversity, lip service, and incompetent hiring. She works for a company that I won’t name (Texas, oilfield services, etc.) but the company was cited publicly for its lack of diversity so they panicked. The organization went on a hiring crusade and for the next several months, everyone hired was a person of color with little thought as to whether the individual was the most suitable candidate for the position! That’s where incompetent hiring enters the picture! The eventual outcomes should reflect more harshly on the hiring parties than the ones hired but it’s not often that companies look back that far to determine where things may have gone wrong. 

Diversity is extremely beneficial to an organization if approached thoughtfully. There should be little reason to recite that an organization which has leveraged diversity in terms of talent, perspectives, and problem-solving approach, not just headcount, will be more successful over the long-term. I just wanted to say it as a reminder. Yet here lies the rub, many companies have not approached diversity in the most thoughtful manner. For the company mentioned above, it was treated as a numbers game which has yet to yield positive results for the company nor for the individuals who struggle to succeed in positions for which they are simply not suited. Maybe that was the malevolent intent. However, I have a hard time conceiving of an organization which would chose to place profit in jeopardy in an attempt to abase any group of people.  So that leaves me with the belief that the organization simply did not put enough thought into this important aspect of its business. Let’s imagine that the likely scenario was that the CEO informed his/her top HR executive to “do something” about the lack of diversity. S/he then informed the recruiting team to “do something” about it. The recruiting team then set about furiously recruiting diverse candidates under fire and rather haphazardly rather than working diligently to identify the candidates most suited to the roles being filled. At this point, the one thing I’m certain of is that no one sat down to develop a plan for addressing the lack of diversity from a strategic point of view. Given that, there could not have been the slightest thought towards finding ways to truly leverage its value.

Companies have appeared to support diversity initiatives publicly while actually disregarding it in ways that matter.  That’s merely giving lip service to the issue. They thought they had to say or do something or risk appearing backward. After all, everybody else appeared to be on the diversity bandwagon. These organizations rolled out “trophy” programs with buttons and posters that had very little substance to them and minimal staying-power. Current employees saw through the programs and tolerated them as a company public relations requirement. Programs like this look good on the careers page of the website but not in the numbers of the annual report.

The annual report holds most of the numbers that seem to matter to organizations. Companies merely need to look around to know that the numbers in the annual report can be positively impacted through a more diverse workforce. Catalyst, the workplace research group, recently studied 353 Fortune 500 companies and found that those with the most women in senior management had a higher return on equities — by more than a third.  Also, a Glass Ceiling Commission report found a direct relationship between stock market performance and the diversity, in gender and race, of the workforce. When treated as a valued asset, diversity and the different perspectives that are inherent with it, allow organizations to more easily solve problems, make better decisions, and therefore get better results.

Organizations do not have to settle for surface-level diversity initiatives versus real results. Organizations that engage with all staff from the start and measure the right stuff (solutions and unique ideas, not just headcount) can leverage the diversity within their employee populations for better business outcomes. It just takes more effort than moving your lips and walking people through the door to get those outcomes.

Interested in really making a difference and not just sitting pretty? Visit Mora&Associates at http://morahr.com/diversityvalue.aspx.

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I attended a presentation at the local HR association monthly meeting focused on “HR at the Table”. The presenter was the senior executive VP of Global Sales for a very prominent organization. Do you find that a little interesting also? Yes, well, he had at some point during his career held responsibility for the HR function and gained a great appreciation and understanding of the function. Beyond that, why not? Why not hear from someone whose function is quite naturally at the table? The shortest possible version of his overall message was that if you want a seat at the table, you must think and act strategically! Ta-daaaa! 

You’ve heard that before? Okay, there is a bit more. It’s the bit more that inspired this entry and will probably inspire more. During the 40-minute presentation, it was also asserted that an individual can be taught to think strategically. What are your thoughts on that? When I first heard it, I immediately thought of all the HR professionals I’ve encountered who did not approach their work in this manner. I tried to imagine that group shifting to a more strategic approach. Is it truly possible? As I thought about it more, for some, yes! For others, I’m sorry to say, but no. For the latter group, myopia either set in somewhere along the way or has always been present. Their neural pathways are set.  This type of change requires a major shift in perspective and thought patterns. You will have to, not only, see things more broadly but find solutions from a broader range of creative thought. The shift and the path to the table call for openess, adaptability, discipline, and an immense amount of mental fortitude.  That is major change if you’re not so inclined already!

There are many HR professionals who do have the potential to make their way to the table. Those professionals can take that unoccupied seat by being more strategic in their overall approach to human resource managment. Ahhh, there it is again, be strategic. This persistent call to be more strategic can be a bit confounding because you’ve heard it tossed around too often and too loosely. Does each person who states this have the same definition and expectation in mind? Probably not, but simply put, being strategic means thinking long-term and broadly about the business you’re in and finding solutions that yield the most value on a long-term basis. It means getting beyond what’s right in front of you for the day, week, or month. This can be a tough task in itself for many but no one will tell you that the path is short nor smooth. Your will and your capabilities will be tested and challenged all along the way but coming from someone who has traveled that road, it is so worthwhile. Your organization and you will be better for it.

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