Thursday, 28 October 2010

Steps to a Successful Diversity Program

by WFC Resources

Jobs Vacancy, Employment, Job Vacancies

This month, one of our Newsbrief stories quoted experts who say while a solid diversity program is more important than ever before, it's time to be more subtle about it. Advertising your company as an Equal Opportunity Employer just doesn't do it any more. It can even be a turnoff, making minority job-seekers think they're being courted just to fill a quota. Here are some steps that companies say have helped them to build a successful diversity effort, reported in the latest issue of Staffing Management.

View diversity as a business advantage

"It has to be a business goal," says one recruiter. The Urban League reports that most companies noted for good diversity practices have been involved in those efforts for more than 20 years. The most important traits are commitment and involvement of top leadership. That doesn't happen unless it's linked to business.

Define Diversity, set goals and measure progress

Looking across the board at your company, says Texas Instruments' Diane Johnson, is not always a good assessment of diversity progress. Many times minorities and women are well represented in the workforce but not in leadership positions. She studies U.S. census data to find out how many engineers are in the population, the graduation rates and the percentage of women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups in those pools. "Then we compare our current population to see if we're on target" and set hiring goals. Managers make the final decisions, and their buy-in to hire diverse candidates is critical.

Hold managers accountable

At Pitney Bowes, diversity metrics are built into the corporation's business objectives and management compensation is tied to diversity. Managers are also held accountable at Allstate, which has mandatory diversity training. The company has moved away from emphasis on affirmative action and looks at having a diverse workforce as business strategy, as opposed to a legal mandate.

Tap the college market. Building a strong campus relationship requires a presence that is constant, positive and consistent. Staples has established ties with the student chapters of minority professional organizations, and brings in students as interns with an eye toward eventually hiring them as employees.

Connect with diverse professionals

Pitney Bowes has been recognized for its strong support and sponsorship of minority professional organizations and CEO Michael Critelli is current chairman of the National Urban League. Supporting such groups is one way the company stays on the leading edge of the diversity movement. One of their newer initiatives is an MBA Leadership Summit for members of Hispanic and black MBA associations, which is focused on career and technical development. They attend career fairs and national meetings, sponsor sessions and provide speakers for professional organization conferences.

Make community connections

Both Texas Instruments and Allstate reach all the way down into grade schools, supporting programs that target diverse seventh and eighth graders. Allstate is involved with numerous community programs that deal with tolerance, inclusion and diversity, partnering with the NAACP, the National Crime Prevention Council, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement and the Hispanic Association of Police Commanders. They support the Women's Business Development Center and the Entrepreneurial Youth Institute, a partnership with the NAACP that teaches entrepreneurial skills to young people. All enhance their reputation as a company that is tolerant and inclusive of minorities.

Focus on a long-term strategy

Companies that have effective diversity efforts view diversity as a long-term strategy and use multiple vehicles to find viable candidates. That means committed time and resources. Said one executive, "Leadership commitment has to be real, not ceremonial. . . It means being an advocate. . .We as leaders must do this job ourselves. Diversity can't be delegated."

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