USING DIVERSITY GOAL SETTING TO TELL A BETTER BRAND STORY

One of the things we see quite a bit is that companies have identified that they have a challenge in terms of the diversity of their workforce. Perhaps they don’t have very many people of color, perhaps they don’t have very many women in positions of leadership, etc. This can be an extremely daunting scenario for companies. The company has to ask itself two questions: First, what do we do about it? And second, how do we message it?

We already know from other research that nearly 2/3rds of job seekers are looking for company demographic information during the application process; more so for candidates of color or candidates who are women. So Holistic has devised a method to take all of these factors into account and help companies tell their brand story, attract great candidates, address the diversity of their workforce, and do so in a productive and thoughtful manner.

Here’s what we do: we use our diversity in hiring program to help the company understand its current landscape, and set a plan to move forward. Simple, right? Here’s how it works:

Step one is to evaluate the current nature of your workforce. Not just your overall diversity, but diversity on a division-by-division, level-by-level, or even position-by-position basis. Once we have a sense of your landscape, we then consider your future plans.

That’s step two. How much hiring will you be doing? How much turnover are you expecting? How much growth? And, most importantly, in which areas of the business? Which geographic locations, which divisions?

Step three is to understand the broader landscape. By looking at your company’s growth and turnover plans and using technology to understand the demographics of potential candidates, we can set very realistic goals for your organization as you grow and evolve. Every company’s diversity of population is a reflection of the marketplace, the type of work the company does, the physical location of the company, and more.

The result of all of this is that, based on a series of real factors and empirical data, we can tell any company that, if it runs an appropriate process, it can achieve certain levels of diversity over the course of a period of time.

Now, the company can set goals. This does not necessarily mean that the company is diverse right now, but what it does mean is that the company is willing to make a public commitment towards its goals around diversification of its workforce.

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Consider two scenarios.

Scenario A: You are a job seeker and you are looking for a job at company X. There is no publicly available information about the diversity of company X’s workforce, so you take matters into your own hands. You look on LinkedIn and Glassdoor, you look at the company website. What you’re basically doing is racially and gender profiling people to try and understand what you think the demographics of the organization are, and how committed the company is to diversity and inclusion. Let’s say that the company only has 15 percent diversity. What you’re going to see is not exactly going to compel you to apply for a position at the company, much less take one. Everyone loses.

Scenario B: We’re dealing with the same company X, with their same 15% diversity. But in this case, Company X has articulated clearly stated goals and objectives. Company X’s diversity presently is 15%, but they project that within three years their diversity will be 35%. On their website, they list that they have conducted a diversity audit and they have a plan for diversity hiring, including some details about what that might include, and they are proactively engaging their potential employees (and current employees) as part of the process. Much better, right?

And so the question becomes, would you rather apply to the job at the company with 15% diversity, or would you rather apply to the job at the company that will have 35% diversity in three years and has an articulated plan for how they’re going to get there, and is inviting you to be a part of the process? Everybody, everybody, would choose option B.

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Holistic can make this happen for companies. There’s three huge advantages of this approach:

First, by setting goals and making them public you’re making a commitment to holding those goals. Just like accountability in any fashion, you’re going public about something, you’re inviting scrutiny and you’re inviting public insight and opinion. You’re opening yourself up for criticism and engagement. But you’re also laying down a commitment that you truly intend to meet certain requirements.

Second: you will get a better outcome. There is a huge self fulfilling prophecy element to this. The company that’s being proactive about its diversity and is actively taking measures to recruit diverse candidates, to be public about its process, to state its goals, and to change the demographics of its workforce -- that company will get a more diverse pool of applicants by definition. As a result, your process will start to generate positive energy from moment one, which will lead to better outcomes, which will make your goals more possible. It’s like with exercise. If you want to run a marathon, the way that you start your training is to run a lot. But if you run a lot, then your ability to run more increases, you’re in better shape, etc. It might even be more fun.

The third and final reason and valuable element of this is that you’ll actually know what’s going on. No longer will it be a he-said, she-said debate. No longer will it be a matter that everybody’s adjudicating in their own heads or where they are sharing their own opinions, infused by their own biases. Your company will, for the first time, be able to empirically state the nature of the situation and where it’s going. Controlling the narrative in this fashion is a novel concept. In the world in which we are living, where companies’ diversity might be judged by somebody making an anonymous comment on glassdoor, being able to proactively communicate about what you’re doing is a huge advantage.

We believe that this is a unique way to turn a negative into a positive, or at least to take an area of improvement and start to gain value from it before you’ve even improved. By flipping the script and being proactive about an issue that is challenging and hard to talk about and one from which many companies shy away, your company has a chance to gain an advantage, solidify processes, make real improvements, and hire better and better employees for the future.

Tom Alexander