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Diversity In Sourcing and Recruiting: The Truth Behind the Questions That Rarely Get Asked


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Diversity is defined by a single word: variety — which basically means different.

But very few people follow up with the question:

“Different in what way?”

The next question we all want to ask, and don’t, is this:

“How and why is diversity important in the workplace?”

We can all agree that we really just need to find the right skill, the right talent for our companies and clients. But I really want to explore further on why we NEED “different” perspectives. Because…

In my mind, “different” represents areas such as culture, ideas, values, lifestyles, classes, goals, and so forth.

“Different” – and therefore “diverse” – is NOT just about gender and/or skin color. It is so much more than that. 

When asking a group of people what they think diversity means – recruiting professionals in particular — the perspective ranges all over the place. In our country alone we have a wide variety of different cultures, and when we discuss these differences from a recruiting perspective, they are all lumped into one common word, which is diversity. You see what I mean?

I ask you to try to understand some of these concepts – because asking questions is what generates understanding, and that’s certainly what is needed when it comes to discussing the topic of diversity in sourcing and recruiting.

The important piece of information to take away today is this: Diversity does not – and SHOULD not – divide a company. Rather, it is – or should be — a catalyst for innovation and collaboration.

What Constitutes Diversity?

Diversity is a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the unique beliefs, values, skills, attributes, and characteristics of ALL employees in an environment that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement. Recognizing and appreciating diverse perspectives in the workplace leads to more flexibility, more productivity, more creative problem-solving, better decision-making, and an enhanced ability to meet the needs of our consumers

Why is Diversity Important?

What does diversity do for us? Diversity, first and foremost, teaches us to accept differences in others and looks pass the basic emotions of language, culture, race, sex, and color. If we think about it, diversity teaches us to be more open and accepting of things that are different from us and makes us more open and successful as consumers. That is why accepting diversity produces increased intercultural communication.

Why is Diversity Important At Work?

Having a work force that consists of a mixture of diverse cultures, religions, genders, and races becomes vital to promote ethnic and gender-related social and cultural diversity in our workplace. It is important to really understand why we need to diversify our companies because:

  1. A diverse perspective allows for a greater number of approaches to the same problem. Think about it: if everyone approaches a problem in the same manner, with the same set of rules — we would all tend to solve the problem in a similar way. This directly translates to limitations. If there are different thinking styles within a team, then there are different ways of approaching the same problem, and a better solution is more probable for the products and services being provided to the end consumers.
  2. Diversity provides opportunities for the best ideas to come forward. In addition to the above statement, workplace diversity allows for more unique ideas to be shared and thus a greater probability of finding the best way to increase overall workplace efficiency.
  3. A diverse perspective improves the effectiveness and productivity of the products and services. A woman may approach a problem differently than a man, and so forth. As a combined result of providing opportunities to share more ideas and discover more efficient approaches to existing challenges, products and services offered by the company will likely increase in quality.
  4. As an example, when a technology company that manufactures a popular gaming system first developed its system, the unit was too large in size for many of its Asian consumers. Due to the huge population in Asia, space is at a premium and the system simply was not space-efficient in many of their homes, so the company ended up recalling its product. In looking back, there were no Asian developers on the team that designed the system who could have pointed out the possibility of this being an issue – had there been, this costly mistake could have been avoided.

Now, why is diversity important in today’s times? It is because of above reasons and more. It’s really about finding the right fit when sourcing and/or recruiting. With companies leaning more and more toward becoming more global in presence, there is obviously the question if globalization a good idea. No matter what the “correct” answer to that question is, our country will continue to become more and more diverse and nothing is going to really stop it from becoming a melting pot of cultures.

When it comes to sourcing, understanding the “Why” of diversity’s importance when looking for qualified candidates is the first step in embracing it as an overall company culture. As sourcing professionals, we are tasked with finding the best individuals for our companies. Businesses that embrace the idea of diversity – in its correct definition – will lead the charge in future innovation and collaboration. Instead of viewing diversity being a “divider” think of it being a “uniter” – providing greater opportunity for introducing new individuals with valuable perspectives to your company that will help improve every facet of business – from product and service quality all the way down to innovation and company culture.

Kay Kelison is a respected social media strategist and a principal sourcer who has been in the recruiting industry over fourteen years. She currently works as a Principal Sourcer for Bing International where she partners with both business and recruiting functions to build candidate pipelines, develop targeted sourcing plans, build and manage successful sourcing initiatives, and manage customer/partner expectations. Additionally, she is involved in the developing and managing of BING and Diversity recruiting efforts through social networking platforms on websites including LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, the BingJobs Blog, etc. Kay is an open networker and encourages you to connect with her.
  • Toby Barnes

    I agree with a great deal of what you say here. My issue is with the semantic! Diversity has a close resonance to ‘divergence’ and ‘divisive’ and I think at a core level it’s one of the reasons why it is often misunderstood and mis-applied.

    For me the fundamental is about respecting others’ differences and letting those enhance your own. And if we talk about ‘inclusion’ we bind personal respect with corporate ambition.

  • http://twitter.com/ToddRaphael ToddRaphael

    One thing I’ve always wondered – and Lance Haun has mentioned this also – how diversity and “fit” or “culture” relate to each other, and butt heads. In other words — companies talk about how they want people who fit it; who will succeed in their culture; who in some cases resemble high-performers; who have not just the hard skills but the soft skills other employees have; who on social media searches of Google, Facebook, and Twitter don’t appear to odd or “out there”; who “fit the brand.” Doesn’t some of this stuff represent the opposite of seeking diversity of thought?

  • Joel
  • http://www.recruitinganimal.com RecruitingANIMAL

    Here’s Ed Newman on the diff between Diversity and Affirmative Action on The Recruiting Animal Show – http://bit.ly/qNRktC

  • http://twitter.com/blakepark blake park

    Great article articulating the value of encouraging diversity. The simple (maybe simplistic) response I offer when asked about WHY encourage diversity in the workforce is that diversity is the best weapon against myopia, and today’s successful organization can’t afford myopia. 

    If your team is composed of people with diverse backgrounds, you’ll avoid myopia because the members will tackle problems from different angles. They’ll see things differently, but that is still only part of the equation. The team also needs to collaborate with one another, with a everyone showing full respect for sharing their perspectives. It doesn’t mean that consensus must be reached on every issue, but it does mean that everyone has the chance to contribute, and that they those contributions are considered with respect.

    Diversity combined with collaboration can be amazingly powerful.

  • Abc

    Seriously? You’re using a QR code as an avatar that can’t possibly be scanned, and you expect us to take your advice on anything digital seriously?