Risk Taking in Your Recruitment

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know I’m a fan of leveraging other reports or research that can be applied to the topic of the Hispanic workforce. Whether it’s marketing or technology, corporate or non-profit, or academic or business – there is a lot of excellent information and lessons that can be applied to recruiting and retaining the Hispanic workforce.

The Anita Borg Institute just released an interesting report from its 2009 Technical Executive Forum. The event (initiative) brought together thought leaders from well known Fortune 500 organizations to raise awareness, actively engage discussion, and drive action among R&D executives on issues regarding the recruitment, retention, and advancement of technical women. Of course, many of the same challenges faced by women are also faced by other minorities, including Hispanics.

In short, the participants in this forum concluded that while the pipeline of technical women with technical degrees coming out of academia was insufficient, the women who do graduate from these programs are not joining organizational cultures that are as receptive as they could be to gender diversity. One can safely assume therefore this is probably true of all types of diversity factors.

From a recruiting and retention context, the report shows that many organizations still recruit with the objective of “minimizing risk”. What does this mean? According to the report, it means this:

In recruitment, some companies favor people with similar backgrounds and levels of experiences, which reinforces workforce homogeneity. Other companies rely heavily on social networks in hiring, which also reinforce homogeneity as people tend to hire people who are like them. …. In advancement practices, standards are set that reflect the backgrounds of those already at the top, again valorizing similar career backgrounds, accomplishments, values, and work and communication styles. This leads to a “club effect” which impedes diversity, a phenomenon that many women refer to as the “good old boy’s network” which they can’t break into.

While the report focuses on women and one industry, I would argue that many organizations approach recruitment in the same way – by minimizing risk. By attracting the same types of employees, people that fit the mold of ones already there, potentially decreases opportunities for diversity candidates based on gender as well as ethnicity. So are you an employer that’s playing it safe? Or are you an employer that uses risk to improve your competitive edge and promote a diversity of ideas?