Sunday, October 29, 2006

Common Mistakes in Recruiting a diverse workforce

Managers and team leads understand the need for creating a diverse workforce. Unfortunately, most managers make two common mistakes in recruiting for multicultural teams.

Mistake-1: Creating a token Diversity

Managers often feel the need to increase their diversity, but often tend to ignore it and hire people who have more in common with themselves, i.e., a Caucasian manager tends to hire only Caucasians, Indian manager tends to hire Indians from his local state etc. In the process, the organization becomes lopsided to a very great degree, and then managers wake up to the fact that they need to increase diversity in the organization. This late realization results in creating a token candidates - who are hired primarily to show that they are creating/encouraging diversity.

My wife once went for a job interview, the interviewer was not serious, instead of doing a due diligence through the interview process, he confessed that ‘he had to hire’ a woman for the job! And he has been instructed by the CEO to hire at least one woman in the team. Obviously my wife rejected the offer. This example shows how damaging the concept of "Token Diversity" can be. In an other example in the US, a manager had to hire a ‘black’ (or African-American) engineer - and once the person was hired, the manager did not have faith on him and never gave a serious task to the "Token" candidate. (needless to say that the person left the organization in few months)

Most managers often consider only the visible dimensions of diversity: i.e., gender, race and sometimes religion. This narrow view results in creating a few "token candidates" in the organization. This act actually is more damaging to the organization, as it creates tensions in the organization.

Other team members will be reluctant to say anything - for the fear of being seen as racist or discriminatory. The "token" diversity employee feels alienated and unwanted in the organization - and fails to contribute effectively to the organization. Thus having a small number of diversity workforce is actually more damaging to an organization and offers little or no value to the team in terms of new ideas, creativity and innovation.

Mistake-2: Diversity by Numbers

Organizations which realize that they are having too little diversity - then proceed to do the second mistake. This usually follows with a directive from the executive offices or the board to increase the diversity within the organization. So the managers respond to this order by hiring only diversity candidates - and this will be mostly for low skilled jobs, or in some cases in their own teams. The hiring standards are often changed to accommodate diversity candidates - this effectively destroys the productivity of the teams.

In case if diversity candidates are hired only for low skilled jobs, then a certain section of the organization will feel alienated - e.g., low end manufacturing employees - that they create problems to the organization. Also other qualified employees feel let down by the management when they promote/hire diversity candidate for the sake of showing numbers. This destroys the team morale and has a long term damaging effect on the organization.

Closing Thoughts

To be a successful business in today's multicultural business environment, managers need to create a sense of inclusion where people feel valued and integrated into a company’s mission, vision and business strategy at all levels irrespective of their diversity backgrounds. Once a person is hired, their contribution must be recognized in terms of work rather than their background.

When employee’s skills and knowledge are recognized, appreciated and utilized, they are more engaged in contributing to an organization’s success. Employees are more willing to go the ‘extra mile’ and share ideas and innovation. They spread the word that your organization is a great place to work. This enthusiasm rubs on others and it will attract more talented people to the new jobs - who can bring new ideas and diverse ways of thinking, solving problems and expanding market share.

Also See:

Leadership & Diversity
Building a Diverse Workforce
Soft Skills For Global Managers
Managing Diversity for High Performance
Encourage Diversity to attract top talent
Distinguish Yourself As a Culturally Diverse Candidate

1 comment:

Mitchell Tannenbaum said...

Awesome article!