Is your organization a diverse work environment?
Take a quick look among the cubicles and in the lunchroom and you can usually get a pretty good idea. Ideally your office has employees of many different races and ages, as well as a good balance among the sexes, including in positions of leadership. Do you see that when you gaze around at your co-workers? If so, you’re off to a strong start, but you’re not quite finished.
There are other key areas of diversity that aren’t visible to the naked eye that deserve mention, too. If your diversity policy only goes skin-deep, then it’s better than nothing, but not as comprehensive as it should be.
Here are three additional areas of diversity employers should consider as they recruit and hire new employees.
“People often gravitate toward like-minded individuals — people who seem ‘like us’,” says Leigh Steer, co-founder of Managing People Better, an online management research tool. Hiring too many people who are like us can lead to lopsided organizations, especially when it comes to management style.
Steer says effective managers need to balance two skill sets: relating and requiring. Relating refers to the soft skills of management: listening, coaching, encouraging, etc. Requiring refers to more results-oriented aspects such as setting goals and monitoring performance.
According to Steer, as many as 90 percent of managers will favor one skill set over the other, which can damage relationships or productivity. “We find that companies tend to hire like-minded managers,” she says. “So, if a company has a senior manager who is an over-requirer, under-relater, we often find a whole stable of managers with this behavioral profile and its adverse consequences.”
Does your organization require a degree from a top tier university? Is that really necessary? Is a college degree even truly needed for every single position? Maybe not and some organizations are starting to question requiring degrees across the board.
“Commercial real estate is sales,” says Diane Danielson, COO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation. “[I]f you have a capacity for numbers, it’s not clear a liberal arts agree would be such an advantage.”
Danielson also says her organization is actively trying to attract younger franchise owners because the industry is aging. If a degree isn’t a requirement, a young person with a natural sales ability could save tuition money and get into a real estate career faster.
Where does your staff come from? Not just geographically, but what types of organizations?
If you’re currently recruiting and hiring for a huge, structured, buttoned-down corporation, do you want people with experience in large companies like that? Probably so. Do you only want those people? Probably not.
“Team members who come from very structured environments may be able to assist in better implementing structure or processes, whereas candidates hailing from startups or entrepreneurial-minded organizations might bring a unique perspective to brainstorming, risk-taking or projects in general,” says Sahara Pynes, founder of HR Solutions Group, an HR consulting company in Los Angeles. “If everyone comes from the same type of organization, the mindset is similar and teammates don¹t challenge each other to work better or smarter.”