Naomi Bloom recently shared her thoughts on why so many companies fail to promote women and minorities into key HR leadership posts. This week, I wanted to share ideas on this topic from other successful human resources professionals who have shaped my thinking as a talent advisor.
Heather Bussing is a California-based attorney. She has practiced employment and business law for almost 30 years. I asked Ms. Bussing why employers are so slow to hire women and minority leaders. She writes,
It’s only been a few generations since women and minorities were the property of white men. Women got the right to vote in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed. Black and Native American men were granted voting rights earlier but are still fighting to exercise them.
There’s more than enough opportunity to go around. One person’s success is not contingent on another’s failure. It is not a war, competition, or a coup. There is plenty for everyone to do, make, and achieve. Equality is coming, but it is a slow burn. As we teach our children differently, and they teach theirs, eventually things will change.
I like the optimism, but I wonder — will things change? Susan LaMotte is seasoned HR veteran who founded exaqueo, a Washington DC-based firm that builds cultures, employer brands and human capital strategies using data and insight. Susan writes,
One major challenge as I see it is with the decision makers. We’ve long known that hiring is rife with unconscious bias. We hire people who are like us. So when you have older, white males who occupy many of the decision-making roles, it’s not hard to wonder why there are so many white men in those positions.
I do worry that many influential leaders are stuck in an unconscious psychological trap. How do you break the mold and hire someone new if you’re not aware of your own behaviors?
Charlie Judy is a Chicago-based HR executive who has some thoughts on how to elevate the role of women and minorities in corporate American.
As long as white males occupy the preponderance of the C-Suite, a more deliberate and methodical process for breaking this cycle is necessary. Don’t leave the hiring decision up to one or two people. Make sure you have a diversely represented selection committee and make sure everyone on that committee has a real voice. Consider having the selection committee justify executive-level recommended candidates to the Board of Directors, too.
And I don’t think there is anything wrong with requiring the recruiting team to present at least one “qualified” female or ethnically diverse candidate for every “qualified” executive white male they present. If they can’t do that, then your recruiting team has other issues.
I like that advice because it’s tasking the modern-day talent advisor with expanding her sourcing pool. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what about after the decision is made? How do you set your new executive up for success?
Some smart HR professionals stay in their lane too often, rather than contribute their intellect to other aspects of the business. CEOs are looking for innovation, creativity and intelligence from anywhere they can get it. Don’t limit your contribution.
When it comes to gender, women should be mindful of what the research says. Men who feel minimally qualified for a new role will raise their hand and apply while a woman is more likely to feel they have to be completely qualified before applying. All new HR executives should be willing to raise your hands for new challenges, even if you don’t feel ready for it. You’re probably as ready as the next guy, and if you don’t get the job, at least you’ve signaled you have ambition.
I think that’s wise advice from Ms. Meisginger that is useful for all talent advisors who are trying to break stereotypes and take a proactive, strategic role in an organization’s talent management needs.