How are Diversity and Inclusion policies affecting hiring practices and resumes? (#7 in the Series)

Judith Cushman All Posts by Date, Effective Resumes 0 Comments

judith cushman associates career development recruiting resumesAnswer:  In the 3rd posting of this resume series, I analyzed the impact of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) policies on hiring practices. This, in turn, affects how candidates describe their qualifications in resumes and in every phase of the process.  I received very different responses to this analysis. Here is my perspective about these responses, #7 in the resume series, with additional insights into the impact of D&I policies.

Separately, as a portend of how important this issue is, IBM is suing Microsoft for recruiting (e.g. stealing) its Chief Diversity Officer. The article states this is, “a case that elevates recruiting and promotion of an inclusive workforce to the level of safe-guarding proprietary technology.” The article continues, “While the lawsuit highlights the contention that can ensue when a senior employee bolts for a rival, it also shines a light on the increasing role that diversity measures play in corporate America.”  (This was reported by Bloomberg News and carried as the headline item in The Seattle Times Business Section on Feb. 13th.)

In my initial posting, I said that Diversity is being defined far more broadly than it has been in the past. Simply hiring for ethnic diversity is far too narrow and missing the point.  That means describing work and personal interests and the many elements that reflect a diverse and rich background are appropriate qualifications. How to describe those is a key question since the traditional resume is not designed for that purpose.

There is a wide range of response to this issue and how much attention a company should devote to studying the issue and deciding to make changes (or not) in its hiring and retention policies. Here are examples.

“In my company, no diversity or inclusion. We select the best candidate. We ignore race, ethnicity, gender and only choose the best person for the job.” (See my response below.)

At the other end of the spectrum, “Probably one of your best summaries. Throw in the ‘me too’ movement and we realize like Hemingway that a dilemma has more than two horns. Probably the cover letter and skill summaries are the best, (to explain a diverse background) but with computers scanning for key words, it makes personal contacts more valuable. A major healthcare educational CEO once told me that, ‘you can take me to court for this but I’m being told I have to hire an ethnic individual. But I will be recommending you to others and I want you to use me as a contact.’ I think he was on the level with that response.”

In response to a company that has no D&I policy, the underlying assumption is that by being “blind” to all prejudices in the hiring process, that will bring the best people into the company. The fact is, that by not recognizing the limits of a traditional talent pool, the company is vulnerable to hiring a homogenous staff and that has its problems in an increasingly global marketplace. Here is my response to “no D & I policy.”

What happens is that there are outstanding people in traditional recruiting pools and outstanding people in non-traditional directions that are harder to identify. Without evaluating diversity statistics in the work force and making an effort to look in a variety of directions for fully qualified individuals, traditional homogenous hiring patterns don’t change.

There is no implication that hiring a diverse workforce leads to a degradation of talent, in fact organizations reported having different viewpoints, world experiences, racial and cultural backgrounds have resulted in more synergy and productivity. BUT it does not happen without an effort. Moreover, from a business perspective, if your organization seeks to win contracts, there a trend toward requiring that the contractor meet diversity and inclusion goals.

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