What Are The Biggest Challenges To Anticipate?
Your team should always be prepared for challenges that it may face in order to maximize success. These are the top challenges you can expect to face in diversity recruiting for the upcoming year.Download Full Guide
1. Your Relationship With Data
Torin Ellis, diversity strategist, and podcast host, explains that data can be an obstacle to overcome and shares the importance of rearranging your relationship with data intake and review. He states, “We’ve been conditioned to look at aspects like time to hire or percentage of representation or engagement surveys.” However, he reveals this data only tells a portion of the story. He shares that data has a “tendency to impact the ability to adequately and substantively pursue DEIB efforts.” Ideally, Torin wants to see People leaders explore and build a new relationship with their data. He would like to see People teams using “a different blend of qualitative and quantitative intake data.” He further explains these teams need to “consider the realities of life that are with us (covid, sandwich generation, moms, etc) and how they are included/nurtured.”
2. Expanding Employee Value Proposition
According to Zynga Inc's Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Dr. VIjay Pendakur, a challenge that many companies are currently facing and will face this year in the diversity recruiting space is the need to explain their employee value proposition beyond salary and benefits. Wondering what that expansion might look like? According to Dr. Pendakur, it’s two things: wellbeing and social good. He expands on this sentiment, sharing, “Underrepresented group members frequently prize these factors and are searching for employers that can speak with precision and substance to how their workers are healthy and thriving while doing the best work of their careers. Furthermore, underrepresented talent cares more about social impact and are drawn to companies that are doing good in the world, particularly in marginalized communities. This adds pressure on companies that are fighting for diverse talent to expand their wellbeing programs and their social impact efforts to attract and retain diverse talent."
3. Unwillingness To Change
Any DEI work within an organization is going to require a willingness to change. Otherwise, a company cannot grow. John Graham, VP, Employer Brand, Diversity & Culture at Shaker Recruitment Marketing shares this perspective, "We’ve seen companies make massive changes in very short periods of time when there was a threat to the business. It’s gonna take that level of intention, commitment, action, and accountability to ensure that change occurs." John emphasizes the importance of asking better questions. He shares, individuals should be asking, "Why aren’t we changing? What are the impediments? What are the requirements for inclusive cultures? Have I stretched myself beyond my own comfort zone personally? Have I expanded my own personal networks beyond the homogenous circles I’m in now? These are the hard questions that have to be asked to really examine the barriers that are ever-present."
In addition to an unwillingness to change, Khalil Smith, Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement at Akamai Technologies, says diversity and inclusion efforts will face a backlash and that it’s important to prepare for this. He adds, “We have a well-established pattern at this point that when progress is made in one space or domain, there are those who see these efforts as a zero-sum game and react accordingly. They feel as if something is being taken away from them, and that the efforts to create a more fair and equitable distribution of opportunities and rewards are inherently unfair to them personally. That leads to mistrust, frustration, anger, and lashing out, and it leads to weaponizing ideas like merit and inclusion as a way to combat creating better systems and outcomes.”
5. Wary Consumers
Kellie Wagner, Founder & CEO at Collective DEI Lab, stresses the importance of being able to answer challenging questions during the interview process. As she explains, one thing you should prepare for this year is wary consumers. She reveals, “If you recognize potential candidates, especially those newly entering the workforce and those from marginalized backgrounds, as consumers of your employer brand, it’s impossible to ignore that they are more skeptical and more discerning than ever.” Kellie explains the best way to navigate this is going "to require companies who want to hire a best-in-class, diverse workforce to go beyond generic DEI statements and be ready to speak to the tough questions that may begin to arise during the interview process. These candidates want to know that if they join your company, they are going to be valued, treated fairly, and empowered to thrive."
6. Viewing Diversity Recruiting as the Cure-All
Dr. Vijay Pendakur says there is an emerging trend we should be aware of and combat. This trend is proximity bias. According to Dr. Pendakur, proximity bias refers to “The tendency for managers to reward employees who are in front of them more frequently.” This practice can be very harmful to DEI within an organization. And can be especially harmful to underestimated groups— working mothers, individuals with disabilities, etc. He explains, “This implicit bias may harm remote workers and favor hybrid or in-office team members. With underrepresented talent potentially being heavily remote, companies have to invest in manager training and accountability intentionally designed to counter proximity bias.”
7. Taking Your Foot Off the Pedal
Hiring a diverse workforce won’t happen if you take your foot off the pedal. To make an impact, any strong initiative requires momentum and persistence. This is also what Alex Suggs, Head of Consulting, Assessment, and Strategy at Collective DEI Lab, believes. She shares the biggest challenge to anticipate this year is “Organizations who did the work in 2020 and then lost steam.” She goes on to say, “If this work was merely a moment in time for these organizations, greater distrust will surely exist among employees. I think we’ll continue to see challenges of People teams making the case for bigger budgets and doing this work in a strategic manner unless leaders stay bought in and engaged with their foot on the pedal." She goes on, “Leaders will need to reckon with the fact that this work is not “one and done,” initiatives, but a lifelong commitment. That they need accountability measures in place for themselves and at all levels. Some leaders that I’ve worked with have been leading this charge, and they are building strong relationships with their people now as a result.”