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Diverse Talent Should Participate, Not Assimilate

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For organizations that strive to reflect their customers and communities, being intentional about hiring diverse talent is the easy part.

The mistake I’ve seen well-intentioned companies make is hiring for differences, and then subtly pressing for assimilation until those differences disappear.

Sameness is a Problem

Diversity is more than race and ethnicity. We hire people to bring their unique perspectives and their best selves to work, and that includes varied religious and political beliefs, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, talents and skills.

But are your processes, culture and systems set up to support sameness rather than these differences?

If you hire for differences but reward sameness, all the time and money spent to recruit diverse talent will be for little gain — and actually might hurt recruiting efforts down the line. Senior leaders who support diversity recruiting efforts will start to question the investment because they don’t see the contributions or the results.

Uphold Your End of the Promise

If your culture is more comfortable with majority rules, diverse talent will do one of two things:

  1. Stop contributing ideas because the norm is what’s recognized
  2. Leave the team or the company

There’s no debate that diverse candidates seek companies with a diverse workforce. Research from Glassdoor shows that 67% of candidates view a diverse workforce as an important factor when considering companies and job offers — 89% of black respondents, 80% of Asians, and 70% of Latinos said it was important to them.

Once diverse talent joins your organization, are you asking them to leave their difference at the door?

Organizations that unleash the potential of diverse talent – their perspectives, experiences and contributions – innovate faster and see better business results.

Participation, Not Assimilation

Assimilation is when the minority group starts to resemble the majority. And that’s the opposite of what we want.

We did not hire to create all employees the same. Organizations that unleash the potential of diverse talent – their perspectives, experiences and contributions – innovate faster and see better business results.

Your retention approach must be customized to the unique needs of your diverse new hires and employees.

  1. Refrain from ‘grouping’ diverse employees. You can’t treat diverse employees as a homogeneous group or assume they all have the same reasons for staying (or leaving). Diverse employees are like every employee – they are individuals.
  2. Offer mentoring and professional support. We have 14 employee resource groups that invite diverse employees and allies to network, participate in work and social functions, and encourage unique contributions.
  3. Minimize (or better yet, eliminate) unconscious bias. Identify and then minimize subtle biases when it comes to work assignments, performance appraisals and promotions.

You’ve hired diverse talent for all the right reasons. Now it’s time to look at how you’re retaining that talent, and most importantly, supporting differences so this talent can continue to contribute to the organization, and grow professionally and personally.

Candace Barnes
Candace Barnes
Manager, Global Diversity Programs, Global Talent Organization & Culture of Inclusion, Rockwell Automation
Candace Barnes

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