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  • Maximize Diversity Efforts by Boosting Internal, External Focus

    January 08, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Special Populations
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    TAGS: best practices, recruiting methods, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, retention

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    To optimize their diversity recruitment and retention strategy, it is important for organizations to consider both their internal and external efforts. These two strategies should go hand-in-hand, says Cynthia Murphy-Ortega, manager with university partnerships and association relations at Chevron Corporation.   

    “By linking the two efforts together, organizations can improve results and optimize resources,” Murphy-Ortega says. “Also, by linking the strategies, an organization can demonstrate consistency of efforts within the organization as well as with the external entities with which they engage.”

    Niccole Boswell, ‎diversity portfolio manager at Chevron, points out that it is imperative for organizations to have a plan to engage diverse talent by offering mentoring, education, and funding as, in many cases, these are elements that underrepresented minorities lack.

    “Internally, you can help to provide support to students by targeting employees to serve as mentors and provide technical talks,” she says. “In addition, providing corporate scholarships to help students with funding their way through school is critical. It also helps build the company brand, which attracts students to their organization.”

    A key step for maximizing efforts is to regularly assess them. When completing an assessment for the first time, organizations may find their diversity efforts are behind, but they can gain valuable knowledge on how to strengthen their internal and external commitment to diversity.

    “As an organization runs through an assessment the first time, it will identify a few items that make sense and may be easy to implement,” Murphy-Ortega says. “Over time, as the organization continues to review the strategies, it will find more areas of commonality and ways to maximize results. It will also find proactive ways to affect the strategies rather than being reactive.”

    By taking a comprehensive approach, employers avoid running the risks associated with only focusing on external programs as the solution or only focusing on discussing topics inside their organizations.

    “If an organization only focuses in one area, they could make short-sighted decisions that positively impact one program, while negatively impacting another program,” Boswell explains. “Most often, it may not be a negative effect; rather, it will be a missed opportunity to create a better, more sustainable solution that has broader impact and optimizes the use of resources.”

    Murphy-Ortega and Boswell say that in their experience, employees are extremely interested in what an organization is doing in terms of diversity and inclusion—especially as it relates to their ethnicity and culture.

    “If, for example, we only focus on employee resource and affinity groups, there will eventually be inquiries about what the organization is doing to bring underrepresented minority talent into the organization,” Murphy-Ortega says. “If there are none, this can lower the morale and send a message that there is no real commitment to diversity after all.”

    On the external side, she adds that if students see there are no inclusion programs in the organization or no programs that support the growth and advancement of minorities, there would be questions about the organization’s true commitment to diversity.

    With these considerations in mind, organizations can implement change through cohesive strategies that cover both internal and external actions by focusing primarily on their values.

    “That’s the core item to focus on,” Boswell notes. “Does the organization value diversity and inclusion? If so, why and what does success look like? Internal meetings will help to develop strategies for the path forward internally and externally. Use your core organization values to drive your actions.”

    Adds Murphy-Ortega: “An organization’s external efforts outside of the organization should be a continuation of their internal efforts. Showcasing what an organization does within their own organization to effectively support a diverse and inclusive work force and environment is a wonderful way to attract underrepresented minorities and women.”

    Murphy-Ortega and Boswell also suggest that organizations that want to optimize their diversity recruitment and retention strategy incorporate the following strategies: 

    • Use data to drive decisions—Identify your goals, and then develop and measure specific actions or steps to meet these goals.
    • Engage a variety of people and organizations—As you develop and review your strategies, gather diverse inputs to help create better solutions. Use benchmarking to understand what other organizations are doing and to assess your efforts. But don’t just implement solutions that work for other organizations. You should observe and learn from others; however, you need to conduct a full assessment of solutions that will work within your organization, and with your available resources and time.
    • Participate in continuing education—Do so through professional associations such as NACE, and diversity associations like the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and others. Also, work jointly with these organizations to develop and implement solutions that have broader impact and leverage resources.
    • Don’t assume that there is only one approach or one answer—Don’t be paralyzed by looking for the “perfect” solution; rather, try some new items and measure results. Also, most solutions are multi-pronged, meaning various actions are needed to drive results and success versus a single approach.
    • Avoid moving too quickly between various approaches—Take the time to develop certain approaches, then implement and assess them. You shouldn’t adhere to a given strategy for too long, although you also shouldn’t bounce around amongst various approaches without knowing what is truly working and having an impact.
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