Last year, we observed in our article, Diversity – Translating acceptance into impact, that whilst significant progress is still to be made in achieving equality in pay and representation, there is common acceptance that diversity has a widely positive impact on the culture, creativity and performance of organisations. The challenge remains, however, in translating that acceptance into tangible progress. Until companies optimise their approach to achieving a more diverse organisation, progress is likely to remain incomplete.
Reactivity and urgency are common enemies of effective strategy. Companies wanting to improve diversity one hire at a time will find a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to secure a minority demographic, often forgoing good intention for the need to acquire talent asap.
Where businesses establish a real strategy, clear objectives and investment to diversity programmes, tangible progress can be demonstrated.
We examined how our clients from the technology, industry and science sectors are responding to their need for diversity. Our research highlights the variation in programmes and results, but also the clear differentiation between good intentions that end up supported more by hope, than by strategy.
An effective strategy we see is clients focussing on the core, fundamental contributors for success in the role over specific sector or subject matter expertise – Miramar partner with a leading global payments company who relax the pre-requisite of payments subject matter expertise to open new channels to talent. This has enabled Miramar to produce a 100% diverse shortlist for a Global Head of Data Science role.
A cloud, security and application vendor client follow a more ‘Rooney-rule’ oriented approach, mandating that at director level and above, the selection process must include a genuinely viable female candidate. Whilst there are limitations to the impact of such programmes, this has led to increased diverse leadership.
These methodologies, above, are combined by a global food commodity and manufacturing business where Miramar are now required to produce a representative short list in terms of gender and ethnicity on all projects. A current project in the US for a Global Head of a Business Unit then sees our client also flex on specific sector experience as we search competitive and adjacent markets for talent with the functional / business capability and leadership skills needed to succeed in the role.
Many companies still need to make the shift from a reactive to proactive diversity strategy. This remains the one fundamental change companies can make to have the most impact in their talent acquisition strategy.
One of the world’s leading ‘supermajor’ oil companies is adopting a dedicated and proactive approach, driving increased gender diversity in senior management whilst simultaneously investing in local, emerging markets. Changing strategy from managing all activity from their European HQ to partnering with Miramar to hire locally across Africa, shifts our client towards increasing the number of women in leadership roles whilst optimising the connections, influence and knowledge that local candidates possess.
Pragmatism and focus on the key defining factors of a role above subject matter or sector expertise, is enabling companies to attract and secure leading diverse, talent from wider markets and channels. Dedicated and proactive engagement remains an elite approach, but where the rewards reach far wider than acquiring talent. Where a strategic committee of internal and external partners can work in alignment within an organisation, across employer branding, talent acquisition and development, the company creates the opportunity for sustainable competitive advantage and to be in the highest percentile of performing businesses.