Since 2020, organizations have rushed to develop and deploy diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and the initiatives to support them; it’s the right thing to do. Organizations that are truly diverse experience higher growth rates, faster time to market, and achieve better innovation. These organizations have made a commitment to attract and hire diverse talent, which is admirable, however, is the pendulum swinging solely in the opposite direction of what we had before 2020? In other words, are organizations hiring through a different type of filter that excludes candidates that are not of color, keeping the playing field uneven?

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to speak with human resource colleagues about the trend that they see in their organizations as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. What most people have shared is an alarming shift into hiring for color rather than hiring for talent. The trend in the hiring for color has resulted in new and existing employee frustration because the skills needed may not be developed enough to be successful in the role for which people are hired. Think about it, the people who are in the organization are already overwhelmed by the impact of COVID and the ‘great resignation’ and then the organization hires people who may not have the skill set to carry out the work, which places a burden on those who are already working beyond their capacity. It becomes a “check the box” for color rather than an intention to hire diverse talent. This type of hiring has a huge impact on employee morale and engagement, which if left unchecked, can lead to slower execution, add to employee resignations and impact an organization’s ability to be profitable. On average the cost of hiring can be between $4k and 10K per FTE. With the current state of inflation, wouldn’t a company want the best candidate and the return on their investment?  Diversity is more than color.

Diversity is the practice of including and involving people from a range of different social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, different genders, sexual orientations, physical capabilities, and religious backgrounds, etc. It is the practice of cultivating work environments where people from all walks of life can go to work in an organization and bring their full selves to the work because they are valued for the content of their character and the gifts, talents, and abilities that they bring to the work. Whenever an organization hires to meet a quota or to check a box and not for skill and ability, they do a disservice to the candidates they are hiring because they are not set up for success. The employees already in the workplace feel the stress to do more. There is an impact on the organization’s culture, employee self-confidence, esteem, and well-being, as well as overall employee engagement, especially so, if there is no plan to develop people in what they have been hired to do.

It All Lies in Where Organizations Source Talent

One thing that I and my human resources colleagues have noticed is that where organizations source for talent is the key to attracting and hiring true diverse talent. Barring online job boards, Colleges and Universities, especially HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) have a wealth of talented candidates to select from. It’s a matter of developing relationships with colleges and universities and understanding the programs they have initiated and the talent that they support. University and College STEM programs are another example of a rich source of talent, as well as programs for students from underserved communities and LGBTQ communities, etc. Specialized trade organizations and those specific to professional women like the Healthcare Business Women’s Association (HBA) are great places to build relationships, get to know potential candidates, and learn what they are up to. There are many trade organizations where recruiters can source talent. Not every candidate needs to come from a job board. There are other sources to find talent, organizations just need to mine for the gold with an eye for diversity that is inclusive of people from all walks of life.

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