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You have the Power (and responsibility) for Building a Diverse Workforce

Recruiting and HR Managers have (probably) the best conditions to impact their company’s chances of achieving diversity, and they must do something with it.

Diversity isn’t the responsibility of one individual, not even one team. Diversity leaders are, in fact, the flag-bearers, and have to deal with the daily difficulties (we referred to them as modern-day Sisyphus in one of our blog posts) of mobilizing action for change, but just as diversity is a business problem (and also a business solution), so too is the responsibility which lies with other people in the company. And so is their capacity to affect change.

There is a completely unjustified perception whereby the recruiting and HR departments are cost centers. How unjustified? In his lecture, Tim Sanders gives several examples from John McKean’s book ‘Information Masters’. He shows that 4% of the investment in a company goes to people, culture and leadership, and in turn yields 50% of the ROI. To compare, technology and information make up 25% of the ROI while accounting for 92% of the investment. These departments are profit centers for all intents and purposes.

 

Image taken from: https://blog.marketculture.com...

John McKean’s book “Information Masters”

To build on that, we say that not only are these departments profit centers, they are also diversity centers. With very little investment, these departments can yield a significant portion of the company’s diversity achievements.

You, the Recruiting and HR Managers and Specialists of the world, have much more impact on your company’s chances of achieving diversity than you think.

You've got the power!

Let’s face it, you have quite a bit of power. In many cases, those with official titles related to diversity need to put in a lot of effort in order to get things going, and it takes them a lot more time to put processes into motion. And while they are indeed the professional authority in terms of diversity, that doesn’t necessarily make them the decision makers. It’s sad to say, but it happens quite often.

One of the reasons for this is they need to get people on board with the process, meaning those people would have to give up a part of their budget—and convincing people to give up their budget is no easy task. In one of our conversations with a diversity director for a Fortune 500 company, we heard more than once, “I don’t have the budget. I want to make something happen – but it means that I need to collect from other departments and I can’t always do that.”

You already have a budget. Your independence is more rooted. You already have the power to make decisions and implement them. Your capacity to influence the organization is as strong, if not stronger.

You’ve got the easiest job

It sounds weird, we know, but it’s true. In terms of diversity, you’ve got the easiest job. The real difficulty lies in diversity and inclusion up the ladder, in the retention, empowerment, and promotion of employees and managers within the organization. This isn’t out of contempt for anyone’s work, it’s just the way things are.

At this point, the claim is usually made that it isn’t easy work because there’s a diverse candidate pool problem. There are a ton of people who still fundamentally believe we’re dealing with a pipeline problem, something that companies of all sizes grapple with. Well, we say they are wrong.

The diverse candidate pool is huge.

They’re out there, not necessarily where you’re looking – or used to looking.  In the end, changing where and how you search isn’t about changing behavior, it’s about changing habits. Focusing on what you consider as “tried-and-trusted” is a force of habit combined with cognitive bias. We use what’s close to us, what we’re familiar with. This is called the availability heuristic, and we all have it. 

Back in 1973, Tversky and Kahneman asked people the following question: In a typical sample of text in the English language, is it more likely that a word starts with the letter K or that K is its third letter (not counting words with less than three letters)? Of 152 people who were asked questions such as this, 105 generally thought that words with the letter in the first position were more probable. In truth, however, there are approximately twice as many words with K in the third position as there are words that begin with it. Because it is easier to generate words that start with K than have K as the third letter, most people overestimated the relative frequency of these words.

The same goes for your recruitment resources. Advertising on the same platforms, again and again, is a habit. Using the same channels, again and again, is a habit. But when you expect a different result each time, that’s insanity (we didn’t say it, Albert Einstein did).

You can show results faster than you can say Jack Rob...

Yes, we know that hiring is already a long process. Time-to-fill is only getting longer and as of 2016 lasts around 29.9 work days on average. Not weekdays, work days! When we put diversity into the equation, this can be shortened significantly. There’s a certain logic behind it, since the bigger your candidate pool (due to more diverse candidates) the higher your chances of quickly finding the right candidate.

But let’s put logic on the side for now, and with your permission, take a moment to promote ourselves.

Joonko is an AI-powered diversity and inclusion coach for companies, which can identify and solve unconscious bias in real-time. We can help you hire the right talent more accurately and quickly. Greenhouse customers who integrate Joonko with their account and receive real-time coaching by our AI, see fast improvements in their diverse hiring stats.

On average, from the moment Joonko engages with a recruiter or sourcer on a certain position, we see a 10-20% improvement within 5 business days. In other cases, within 14 business days, our clients have seen an increase of 42.8% and even 172.2% in the number of diverse candidates.

We try hard not to throw numbers into the air, but we’re talking about real impact on diversity in matter of days.

If we, all of us, want to make a change for diversity, whether because we believe in the endgame, out of necessity or to gain a business advantage, we just need to make it happen. Each one of us, with our own unique set of tools and responsibilities. 

You, the Recruiting and HR Managers and Specialists of the world, have much more impact on your company’s chances of achieving diversity than you think. Your starting point is much better than other departments in the organization, and the work you need to put in is significantly less, while the results you achieve will be seen much quicker.

It’s all up to you now.

Ilit Raz Joonko Min

Ilit, the Co-founder and CEO of Joonko, has 14 years of experience working in various product management and team leadership positions (7 years in startups and seven years in highly-regarded IDF intelligence unit). She has a Computer Science degree and an Executive MBA. 


In early 2016, after 13 years as a woman in tech and experiencing unconscious, and conscious, bias - she decided to change the way people work. That's when she founded Joonko (Techstars '16, Salesforce Incubator '17) - the first AI-powered diversity and inclusion coach for companies, which can identify and solve unconscious bias in real-time.

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