Given that businesses today are faced with greater and greater challenges, the ability to strategically leverage the benefits of an effective DRP can provide firms with a valuable competitive advantage. The global business arena is faced with overwhelming pressure for constant innovation and reinvention.  Successful DRP’s provide the potential to enable firms to acquire the human resources to effectively tackle these issues.  Yet they remain underutilized, at best.  All too often, firms have failed to recognize either the importance of DRP’s in achieving an overall excellent recruiting program, or have failed to devote the time, money and personnel required to produce such a program.   

Rather than tolerate mediocre results we have decided to analyze DRP’s using the same template we have utilized to build world-class programs for recruiting high demand high-tech talent in the Silicon Valley. Our analysis has shown that when you compare traditional diversity recruiting against this high-tech template, the weaknesses in diversity recruiting programs become obvious. Part 1of this article will highlight the problems that most diversity programs encounter and in Part 2 we will offer an "outside the box" look at the action steps that can be taken to dramatically increase DRP results.  

Defining diversity

Diversity can be defined in a variety of ways. In this article we use an "inclusive" definition (as opposed to the more traditional equal employment definition frequently used in the United States). Many times diversity is defined too narrowly. We define diversity as the need for corporations to have a wide variation in ideas, perspectives, lifestyles and experiences in their decision-making, product design, service delivery, etc. This means that people with diverse ideas, backgrounds and experiences must participate and be listened to in all jobs and at all levels of decision making.  


Most recruiting programs are developed on an ad-hoc, trial and error basis. And as a result, most have inherent weaknesses. However, if you look at world-class recruiting programs at top firms like Cisco, Intel, Texas Instruments and Microsoft you will find that the top-tier recruiting programs differ significantly from the average. This is important, because these are the exact companies that cite their human and intellectual capital as their most important sources of success. If you also look outside of corporate recruiting and see how the top executive search and Internet recruiting firms approach recruiting you begin to develop a set of characteristics or critical success factors that the top tier recruiting efforts have in common.  When you use this critical success factor (CSF) list to "audit" diversity recruiting programs you quickly find that they come up short in most categories. Because the primary focus of this article is recommending changes in DRP’s we will not dwell at length on the weaknesses of most diversity programs. However, the primary weaknesses can be placed into ten basic categories.  After listing them we will spend the remainder of the article outlining steps you must take to overcome each of them.  

The 10 basic reasons why diversity recruiting programs fail

  1. Goals aren’t clear – Organizations, and the program directors themselves, often have not articulated explicit goals for their program(s).  If the purpose and goals of each program aren’t clear, it is extremely difficult to assess what constitutes success and/or effectiveness of the program(s)

  2. Lack of a strong business case – The recruiting team failed to make a convincing "business case" to individual managers that diversity has a direct economic impact on their ability to produce results 

  3. Underutilizing referrals – DRP's underutilize referrals as a primary source for identifying candidates. This underutilization comes from an unfounded fear that referrals cannot produce diversity candidates, or that targeted referral programs constitute discrimination

  4. No rewards – A lack of significant rewards for recruiting diverse candidates sends a clear message that diversity recruiting isn’t a priority, and therefore managers and recruiters fail to focus on it

  5. No innovation in tools and strategies – DRP’s traditionally benchmark against each other and as a result, the tools and strategies they utilize vary very little.  In a rapidly changing world where job hunting has changed dramatically the tools and strategies that are used must be constantly updated to remain effective 

  6. Weak recruiters – The people that run and staff them, no matter how well-intentioned, are all too often not experienced or trained "executive search type" recruiters

  7. Little market research – DRP administrators often fail to make use of the latest market research and sales techniques to diagnose and improve upon their existing diversity recruiting systems.  In addition, they fail to do the minimum amount of necessary market research to identify the specific "decision criteria" used by diverse candidates to select a new job opportunity

  8. Weak metrics – Most programs lack periodic performance metrics (numerical measures) that are needed for continuous process improvement.  Gathering and reporting metrics also sends a message to managers that diversity recruiting is important

  9. Focus on active candidates – Most programs have as their primary focus attracting "active" candidates rather than "poaching" currently employed diverse people from other firms. These “passive” candidates are not currently looking for a job but that do meet and in many cases exceed a firm’s job requirements

  10. Not enough emphasis on orientation and retention – No matter how effective a DRP is at attracting and hiring candidates, it is impossible to achieve the overall objectives of a world-class program without giving serious consideration to the orientation and retention of diverse candidates 


In order to achieve a world-class diversity program, it is critical to transform the failures of traditional DRP’s, as highlighted above, into organizational strengths and core competencies. Just like the creation and implementation of any other strategy that is designed to increase the competitiveness of a firm, this transformation involves both internal and external aspects, as well as immediate and longer-term activities.  In this section we outline five action steps for jump-starting your DRP to achieve immediate improvements. Later we recommend five longer-term actions to achieve a more consistency in program results.   


Step 1) – Articulating clear goals for the DRP

DRP’s for years have suffered from a lack of clearly specified goals and objectives.  Because of this, DRP’s have not been aligned with most organization’s overall plans for attaining recruiting excellence.  Clarifying the goals for the DRP and communicating them throughout the entire organization is an important step in achieving both internal and external objectives.   

Internally, recruiters, managers and all levels of employees need to be made aware of the importance and function of the DRP to the organization.  This helps to secure buy-in from key internal players, and lends validity and support to the DRP. This support is necessary when making resource allocation decisions and setting broader strategic objectives for the company.  By articulating clear goals, much of the skepticism and lack of respect that currently surround DRP’s (due to secrecy) can be dissolved.   

Making goals explicit also has important benefits for the organization externally. If all organizational members fully understand the role and priorities of the DRP, then they can better assist the organization in their efforts to identify key diversity candidates, take advantage of referral opportunities, and ultimately help in selling and closing the deal with prospective candidates. The bottom line is that a DRP that is fully understood and supported by all organizational members can better achieve its goals for the organization.  

Specifically, organizations need to:

  • Clarify and outline the strategic goals and objectives of the overall recruiting program

  • Design and carry-out the DRP to mirror and support the strategic corporate goals 

Step 2) – Building the business case

Many diversity programs are well supported by top management but often for the wrong reasons. Some do it to avoid legal issues (we might be sued) while others do it in order to be "politically correct".  Executives give speeches, announce diversity targets and some executives even have the top diversity manager report directly to them in the hope that it will send a message that diversity recruiting is important.  While all of these reasons have value, if you really want your diversity programs to be successful you have to go beyond these traditional arguments and make the economic case to managers for having a diverse workforce. 

The most powerful and effective arguments that can be made for excellence in diversity recruiting relate to the business and dollar impact that diversity recruiting can have on the bottom line of the organization. Does having a workforce with diverse backgrounds, experiences and ideas have impact on the firm's profitability? The answer is a resounding yes! The following list contains the prime factors that can be used to demonstrate the dollar impact of having a diverse workforce. By looking at the many business impacts of diversity, the potential financial impacts on a firm become clearer. This impact will continue to increase as the previously "minority" population becomes a "majority" due to population shifts. At that time, excellence in diversity recruiting no longer becomes an option.  We would argue that this time has already been reached and that excellence in diversity recruiting is a business necessity!  

How diversity can positively impact a business:

  • Achieving excellence through access to quality – Diverse thinking enhances evaluation and problem-solving ability, in part due to different frames of reference

  • Product sales – Product sales increase as a workforce reflects the interests and needs of the customer base, which for most organizations these days is globally dispersed

  • Product features – Having diversity on product development teams helps ensure that products have features that are desired and can be easily utilized by more people

  • Advertising and marketing become more effective – having diverse people collaborate on the design of our advertising campaign results in a more effective campaign because the ads can be understood by and reach a culturally broader audience

  • Globalization demands it – As companies become more global it is essential that everyone think and act with a broader understanding of the different ways to solve problems and sell products

  • Employees and stockholders may demand it – Diversity is one of the key elements that attracts and retains top performers.  In a changing world where more diverse people own stock, expectations for a diverse workforce increase.

  • Customer service – Employees from diverse backgrounds better understand and provide service to our diverse customers 

Step 3 Rely heavily on referrals

DRP's almost universally underutilize referrals as a primary source for identifying candidates. This underutilization often stems from an unfounded perception that referrals cannot produce diversity candidates. Many HR professionals have traditionally assumed (falsely so) that referral programs have a negative adverse impact on diversity and as a result, they have minimized the usage of referrals. The facts don't support that conclusion (in fact referral programs are highly recommended by the EEOC).  

These misconceptions and practices are unfortunate because many firms have found that the best recruiting source is almost always referrals.  Unfortunately, many referral programs are also limited in scope and rely solely on employee driven actions.  However, referrals can be a powerful tool for DRP’s, when managed effectively by building your internal brand as a "great place to work" through frequent internal communications in order to increase or re-energize your employee referrals.  If you expand the definition of “who” can refer candidates you'll get dramatically improved results.  

Referral programs differ widely, depending on the level of search (entry-level vs. mid/late career, for example).  Across these different levels, some of the best referral tools include:

  • Standard employee referral programs – Employees play an important role in identifying diversity candidates, as they are constantly out and about in the industry.  Diversity referrals can be improved if all communications relating to the referral program highlight the importance the firm places on diversity referrals.  Additional improvement can occur through offering increased incentives for any diversity referrals, by giving managers diversity referral targets, and by specifically targeting departments that currently have high diversity populations.

  • Diverse employees – Diverse employees usually know other diverse individuals, so it’s important to specifically ask these individuals for help.  Diverse employees can also help identify organizations and sources with high diversity referral potential.

  • Reference referrals – Ask the references of diversity candidates and hires if they know other excellent diverse individuals.  If non-diverse hires happen to have diverse references they can also be an excellent source.  Be sure to ask all of these references to continually provide you with names.  You should also consider rewarding them for their referrals.

  • Executive search – Recruiters (whether they’re currently working with your firm or not) are excellent at identifying potential candidates.  If you reward them, they will provide you with the names of diverse individuals (whether those candidates are currently looking for a job or not) that you can add to your database.  Finally, you can offer incentives to search firms (that are under contract) for successful diversity hires.

  • Former employees – Keep in touch with former employees and let them know about the high priority that you place on diversity.  Reward them for both providing names and for actual hires.  In addition, don’t forget to track and try to re-recruit any diverse individuals who have left your firm.

  • Customer referrals – Encourage or reward customers for referrals.  This can also be an effective tool for directly recruiting diverse customers you have.

  • Consultant/ vendor/ contractor referrals – Anyone who works with your firm and that knows your needs can be a referral source.

  • Community, religious and neighborhood leaders – Ask for their help and where appropriate, reward them or their organizations for their assistance in identifying candidates. 

Step 4  – Offer incentives, recognition and rewards

Another critical weakness that impacts diversity recruiting is a lack of rewards.  Few companies offer specific rewards for identifying or hiring diverse people. If a firm suffers from a lack of clearly specified organizational goals for diversity recruiting programs, as discussed in Step 1 above, then a similar failure to reward specifically for diversity recruiting comes as no surprise! However, this lack of significant rewards for recruiting diverse candidates means that managers and recruiters fail to focus on it.   

Some of the most effective rewards span the management, recruiting and employee ranks, and include: 

  • Recruiters must be rewarded for great diversity recruiting. For some curious reason firms have refused to give recruiters extra incentives for identifying diversity candidates or for successfully recruiting diverse individuals.  If you follow the old adage "what you measure takes away all doubt about what you want done" and what you want done gets done faster when it’s rewarded, then measuring and rewarding recruiters for diversity hires becomes essential for program success. Some might argue that rewarding diversity recruiting has an adverse impact (reverse discrimination on the non-diverse population). Of course there is always the possibility that you "might be sued" but in reality that probability is essentially zero while the benefits of great diversity recruiting can mean millions of dollars in revenues.

  • Managers must be rewarded for great diversity recruiting – A significant portion of all individual hiring managers pay (5 to 10 percent) should be based on diversity recruiting and retention results. In addition, senior management should have their pay based on producing results. Finally, the director of recruiting and the VP of HR both need a large portion of their pay tied to diversity recruiting success

  • Give employees a small reward for identifying the names of diversity candidates. Just "finding the names" of diversity prospects is worth some small reward, so don't forget to incent people just for adding names to your diversity prospect database. 

Step 5 – Implement innovative diversity recruiting tools and strategies

Often the heads of diversity programs are not experienced recruiters. As a result they tend to use very traditional tools.  Because the world of recruiting and the way that people conduct job searches has changed dramatically in the last few years, it is important to constantly explore new approaches and strategies.  Many diversity programs have developed a bad habit of copying each other. This may be a safe strategy, but it also means that any particular company's approach is unlikely to vary much from its competitors.  In recruiting, though, we know that the tools are most effective when you're the only one using them.  There is a significant advantage to innovating.   

Ways to innovate your recruiting strategies and tools include:

  • Differentiate yourself – In order to be successful you must avoid the cookie cutter approach.  Because inexperienced recruiters run many diversity programs, they are forced to develop and improve their programs by benchmarking (copying) other recruiting programs.  The result is often a bland "inside the box" approach that is not only marginally effective but also fails to give your individual firm any competitive advantage. The key to success in recruiting is to differentiate, not copy, so develop unique and distinctive programs, slogans and approaches.

  • Utilize technology – Currently employed people of all kinds have widespread access to the Internet so identifying diverse candidates on their personal web page at niche Internet sites can be very effective. Unfortunately, most diversity programs over-rely on the more traditional face-to-face recruiting sources like job fairs and on-campus and diversity events. Face-to-face events are expensive and because there are only occur infrequently they can have only marginal impact while Internet recruiting can identify candidates everyday. Specifically, screening videos, profiles of diversity employees, frequently asked questions and a listing of diversity awards are all easily utilized. Finally, visit candidate’s personal web pages and the chat rooms they frequent. 

  • Less emphasis on the legal – Getting managers to buy in to diversity recruiting has been a long battle. Unfortunately most of the arguments have been focused on the threat of a lawsuit rather than logic or economics.  As result, many diversity managers are accustomed to using the law as a "club", which turns off hiring managers. Ironically, perhaps as a result of this long tradition, most diversity recruiters are paranoid about being sued. The net result of this paranoia is a culture of conservative approach to recruiting and an overemphasis on the law, documentation and avoiding any potential lawsuits.  What is needed is a more balanced approach that calculates the risks but also calculates the benefits of great diversity recruiting.  Legal advice should be sought in identifying the realistic probabilities and costs related to being sued.

  • Increase the focus on "closing the sale" – Most recruiting programs (and diversity programs are no different) focus their efforts on finding and screening candidates.  That's fine if you are targeting people that are not high demand, however it's almost impossible to keep top performing diverse professionals hidden. The difficult part of diversity recruiting is not finding or even screening, it’s selling or convincing the candidate. In order to "close" these candidates you have to do your research into their job selection criteria. You must find out what criteria they will use to make their decision and then convince them that your job meets each of their decision criteria.   

In order to be successful, DRP programs must gather data on what diverse candidates expect.  Managers need to be educated and trained on how to close diversity candidates. Managers should also be given "side-by-side" offer comparison sheets which allow them to see how our offer stacks up against other offers a diverse candidate is likely to get. Finally, whenever a diverse candidate accepts or rejects our offer we need to do a post-mortem to understand what they liked and what they didn't.  It is absolutely essential to actively follow-through on recruiting efforts and follow-up with candidates, once offers and/or hires have been made.

  • Brand building – Unfortunately many diversity recruiting managers (again because of their lack of training and experience in technical recruiting) don't understand the need to build the company's brand (image) as a great place to work for diverse people.  Building a positive external brand can positively impact both the quantity and quality of diverse and non-diverse applicants alike by increasing the companies name recognition, visibility and image. Since many diversity communities are tightly knit, word-of-mouth (a.k.a. viral marketing) is a relatively cheap and effective way of letting prospective applicants know what we have to offer.   

DRP's can build their brand by getting on great place to work lists. The "lists" with the most impact include both of Fortune's lists (diversity and "best place to" work) as well as the list in Working Woman magazine. The second element in diversity branding involves having your "people management" and diversity practices " talked about" in business and professional publications that your target audience reads. The third element of branding involves employee referrals.  Having thousands of employees acting as evangelists telling their friends and acquaintances on a daily basis about your firm's great diversity and people practices is one of the most effective marketing tools in recruiting 

Longer term action steps (6-10) 

Step 6 – Hire and train world-class recruiters

To develop an excellent recruiting capability in your firm, it’s necessary to counter two myths head-on.  First, not everyone can be an effective recruiter. Second, coming from a diverse background is not enough to make you a great diversity recruiter.  Excellent recruiters are aggressive individuals with strong "sales" skills. Our recommendation is to hire experienced recruiting professionals that currently possess these traits rather than trying to develop them. Some have had success in taking diverse individuals and training them to be recruiters but unless they are really aggressive individuals, don't expect immediate results.   

Let's face facts.  Recruiting diverse individuals does require an understanding of diversity but it turns out that the essential skills for successful diversity recruiting go beyond understanding diversity. Most people in diversity recruiting functions are diverse but they're often not really professional recruiters. Although results vary, in general, recruiters that are diverse produce no better diversity recruiting results than non-diverse recruiters that are ranked as top performers. In fact, inexperienced diverse recruiters produce significantly weaker results than experienced recruiters that understand diversity but are not themselves diverse.  Unfortunately, getting both is difficult and expensive. First of all, the combination is rare, and second, those that have it are in high demand. In some cases, heads of diversity recruiting see diversity recruiting as an opportunity to bring more diverse people into the firm.  While that might be a desirable goal overall, it can produce mediocre results in diversity recruiting.  If you expect dynamic results this is not an area where you can afford to have people "learn on the job".

The skills required to recruit excellent diverse individuals are the same skills required to recruit any excellent individual.  These skills include a "find a way" attitude, knowledge of effective recruiting techniques, experience using marketing research tools and sales ability. What results in successful diversity recruiting is the ability of these excellent recruiters to apply their experience and expertise to the specific case of diverse individuals, just as they would to any other high-potential candidate that has been identified.  

There are specific approaches you can take to attract and retain headhunter type recruiters:

  • The most aggressive and effective approach for building a recruiting team is to identify and hire the best diversity in your industry.  Ask your managers to identify the excellent diversity recruiters that contact them.  Ask your own recruiters for the names of excellent diversity recruiters they know.  Poach the best recruiters from search firms.  And last, ask your diverse employees of the names of all effective recruiters they have known.

  • No one knows how to sell people better than salespeople so be sure and involve your sales force in your diversity recruiting efforts.  These are aggressive outgoing people that talk to hundreds of people every week.  Consider converting some of your best salespeople into recruiters because if they are trained and incented correctly, they make excellent recruiters.  Also ask your sales force to help train your recruiters in the latest sales techniques.  Because salespeople are constantly meeting hundreds of people each week, it’s smart to encourage them to actively participate in the employee referral program.

  • There's little argument that the best recruiters in the world come out of executive search.  They are aggressive and results oriented.  Unfortunately, there are few diverse people in executive search and even fewer of those make it into the corporate diversity arena because of the pay differential. If you want the very best, be prepared to poach from executive search firms and to pay top dollar. 

Step 7 – Extensive market research is needed

DRP’s often fail to utilize the latest market research and sales techniques and apply them to diversity recruiting.  Market research can contribute to DRP’s in two important ways – identifying candidate demographics and identifying their job selection decision criteria. A significant portion of recruiting is really about identifying what candidates need and then "selling them" on the notion that your company will satisfy those needs.  As a result, it is important to start with a basic understanding of "who" you are trying to sell.  Market research helps you understand the basic demographics of your target candidates.  Knowing the demographics makes it possible to easily "find" diversity candidates.  In addition, market research allows you to identify what these diverse candidates expect in a job through the use of surveys and focus groups.  We estimate that as much as half of the diversity candidates that are lost are as a result of poor market research.  

The steps that diversity recruiting managers need to take include:

  • Identify diverse individuals within your organization and find out "how can I find you again". This is a process of developing a behavioral profile of your current diverse employees based on the premise that it can be used to find other diverse people within that job function and our industry.

  • Conduct market research to identify the common demographic characteristics of the diverse population you are targeting (drawn from your current diverse top performers and your targeted candidates).  It's important to know precisely what they read, what they watch and where they go in order to design recruiting programs that can effectively reach them. Specifically look at conferences they attend, organizations they join, web sites they visit and chat rooms they frequent. This generally requires hiring an outside firm or working in collaboration with your advertising department (which may already have this data).

  • Identify the specific "decision criteria" used by diverse candidates when they choose an industry and a company to select a new job. Great recruiting can only occur based on a foundation of excellent market research.  Recruiting is similar to sales.  You're trying to sell a product (in this case a job) to someone. Great market research that gathers demographic, focus group and survey information can provide information you need to identify key decision criteria and provide the necessary information to close the deal.

  • Identify "networks" within a function or your industry.  Start by identifying any key "opinion leaders" or well-connected individuals that can serve as advisers or even referral sources for identifying diverse candidates. 

Step 8 – Improve program measurement and metrics

You can't improve what you don't measure and most DRP’s are weak on measurement.  One fundamental reason why diversity fails is a lack of measurement (and the distribution of those metrics). In addition, keeping program measures a "secret" allows mediocre results to be maintained over a long period of time. Yes it's easy for managers to give excuses about why diversity recruiting "can't work" but metrics can dramatically show that others are succeeding.  It is also important to involve the finance department early on in metric development to ensure that the program measures are aligned with standard business measures.  This helps to improve program credibility among the always-cynical finance group and other managers who have to deal with more precise or tangible measures on a regular basis, i.e. the rest of the business world outside HR. 

After gathering the metrics it is equally important that they be distributed (in a forced rank format) to all managers and relevant employees. This distribution serves both to educate and to evaluate them in front of their peers. This report recognizes managers with excellent results, and shows other managers what is possible within the organization. Finally, it keeps bad managers from hiding. The powerful impact of distributed metrics on diversity recruiting cannot be emphasized enough! 

Most programs lack periodic performance metrics (numerical measures) for continuous improvement. Effective diversity recruiting programs need to measure at the very least:

  • Which sources produce the best candidates

  • Why offers are rejected

  • Why diverse workers quit

  • The performance or quality of the hires

  • Which managers have an excellent reputation for diversity recruiting results

  • Diversity retention rates

  • Diversity recruiting results by manager and business unit 

Step 9 – Work on “poaching” currently employed individuals

Most programs (diversity or not diversity) focus primarily on attracting "active" candidates (An active candidate is someone that is currently unemployed or is actively looking for a job). The initial problem with active candidates is that at any one time less than 20 percent of the workforce is actively looking for a job.  This means if you focus on active candidates you are ignoring 80 percent of the population. 

Another reason why diversity recruiting programs often focus on active candidates is because many diversity recruiting managers and many diversity recruiters are not experienced or trained in the difficult task of "poaching" away the best candidates from other companies. Their lack of experience causes them to take the easy way out.  Because finding active candidate is relatively easy (since most of them find you) recruiters get in the habit of using "shallow" and simplistic recruiting tools and strategies.   

A third reason to avoid these active candidates is that currently employed professionals are much more likely to be diverse and better performers (than an equivalently sized pool of unemployed candidates would be) because diverse professionals and top performers are in such high demand. The quality of these "unemployed" candidates can be so low that they seldom make it through the final selection process meaning that the search must begin again- which is a considerable waste of organizational time, money and energies. 

Because of all these factors, it is important for diversity programs to focus on "poaching away" currently employed talent.  Some of the best approaches for identifying and recruiting passive (employed professionals) candidates include:

  • Know the competition.  In the same sense that high-performing organizations know other companies, know their competition, and know their cluster for tracking key innovations and technology developments, DRP managers need to know what’s going on with the people in their own organization and other organizations. 

  • Identify diverse individuals that write articles, give speeches or win awards.  Build a relationship with them over time and identify their "job switching" criteria.  Keep in touch with them so that the minute they become frustrated in their current job you can make them an offer.

  • Identify diverse individuals at professional meetings, trade fairs and at charity and social events. Build a relationship with them and make them a "friend" of your company.  Periodically send them electronic newsletters, offer them product discounts or invite them to training events at your company in order to build a relationship that may someday lead to a hire.

  • Attending the events sponsored by diversity groups can be effective but the competition is high and often attendance includes a large number of people that are active job seekers.  Consider focusing on the organization’s leadership and ask them to be referral sources for currently employed professionals.

  • Consider sponsoring contests or awards for professional organizations and use the information and the application to identify potential candidates. 

These steps, in combination with a successful implementation of Step 6 above, will yield powerful long-term and consistent results for identifying and then securing “star” diverse recruits. There is no doubt that the only thing better than knowing you’ve just successfully recruited a “star” diverse recruit is knowing that you’ve just successfully wooed and stolen that “star” diverse recruit from your fiercest competitor! 

Step 10 – Devote Equal Attention to Orientation and Retention

Finding diverse employees is important but keeping them is equally as important. Great recruiting can go out the window immediately after a candidate has been hired, as a result of inadequate employee orientation.  Because many people ask their friends during their first week on a new job "what is it like there" an effective orientation program can be an important marketing and recruiting tool to attract future hires.  Remember if your current new hires tell their friends that your firm "stinks", it will be almost impossible to recover from that bad reputation within the often closely-knit diversity community. Unless managers are measured and rewarded for retaining diverse workers you are liable to lose your very best in this competitive market.   

The key points to remember here are:

  • Orientation is important – Diverse candidates may need specialized help in understanding the corporate culture in order to get off to a fast start.  Helping diverse individuals get a mentor, hooking them up with affinity groups (internal clubs or organizations made up of people with similar interests) and by continually asking them "how they're doing" can all go a long way toward improving their success rate. 

  • Retention is important – It is essential to evaluate and reward managers based on their success in retaining diverse workers. Diverse employee turnover rates need to be measured and reported independently of all other turnover. Finally, because not all managers or employees understand the unique needs of diverse employees, it's important to continually educate managers and employees about diversity issues.  It is equally important to periodically survey individual diverse employees about what frustrates them.


As a result of the war for talent that has flourished over the last half a decade, recruiting and retention have been transformed from an HR effort into a major, mainstream strategic function. It is clear that achieving excellence in diversity recruiting requires the same kind of organizational attention as any other major strategic effort. What is needed is focus, persistence, setting tough goals and adhering to tough evaluation standards.  Strong leadership and management support are necessary so that your diversity recruiting program doesn’t become routinized and stale.  The interests and demands of diversity candidates are constantly changing and diversity recruiting programs need to be responsive to those changes in order to be dynamic. We feel that the time has come to update the tools and strategies and to reinvigorate diversity recruiting. By borrowing the tools and strategies that are proven so effective in high-tech during the last few years and adapting them to diversity recruiting you can dramatically improve the results you get.

Guest Contributor Biography:

Dr. Sally Baack is an Assistant Professor of Management at San Francisco State University. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley and the Georg-August Universitaet, in Goettingen, Germany, and received her Ph.D. in Strategic Management from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Her work with organizations has been focused primarily on leveraging human resources for optimal problem-solving and strategic change efforts.  She has a strong background in international and cross-cultural issues, and is particularly interested in solving organizational problems that arise due to differences in individual’s diverse backgrounds. Her practical and academic interests revolve around helping organizations identify and solve cutting-edge strategic problems. She has presented her research at premier academic associations, both in the US and internationally. She has taught undergraduate, MBA and Executive MBA students for the past eight years in the areas of Strategic Management; Business Policy and Decision-making; Organizational Behavior and Change; International Business Negotiations; and Managing Conflict and Problem Solving. She can be reached at [email protected].

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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