Diversity Starts With Recruiting

In January 2011, professional services and investment management company Jones Lang LaSalle’s HR team realigned the recruiting function to focus on key priorities (Editor’s note: The author works for Jones Lang LaSalle). This created the opportunity for talent acquisition and diversity to come together on a number of growing issues.

The situation showed diminishing diversity at the officer level, and there was a concern for the future talent pipeline, especially in the real estate industry. Further, there was increasing client demand to provide people and services that could relate to clients’ experiences and expertise. There was an equally strong internal case to build a more diverse talent base, especially at the leadership and director level. Success required a strong foundation and a mindful process, driven by the chief diversity officer and talent acquisition leaders.

The partnership between diversity and talent acquisition had two main goals:

1. Source and interview diverse candidates for all officer-level roles. Focus on candidate slates, defined as individuals the organization intended to interview for an open position. These slates would be monitored and serve as a source of recruiting candidates. The focus would be on women and minorities at the director level.

2. Ingrain key diversity best practices into talent acquisition. Get leaders and individual contributors in a rhythm regarding diversity and talent acquisition.

Before January 2011, the organization did not have a large dedicated team of recruiters and relied primarily on external search methods. Further, the company did not consistently track or drive diversity via sourcing efforts.

The first step was to establish a foundation and approach to solicit support, get recruiters, leaders and key stakeholders on board, and start tracking and measuring key metrics. Angela Roseboro, Jones Lang LaSalle’s chief diversity officer, recognized the need to mobilize a growing team of recruiters who could serve as ambassadors and advocates. It wasn’t enough to promote the importance of diversity; she needed them to make the change on their own, to practice and commit to what they preached, and create accountability to drive diversity.

The initial goal was to achieve a slate of candidates, a minimum of which were 30 percent diverse. On a biweekly basis, recruiters were asked what their slate was for all open officer-level roles, and what key challenges, opportunities or successes occurred while filling the role. Roseboro and talent acquisition leaders also reviewed the metrics on a biweekly basis and discussed what resources or partnerships could be used to drive goals. The Americas Executive Committee, the CEO’s direct reports and leadership team, also were updated on a quarterly basis.

Roseboro said efforts to increase diversity at the officer level would not have succeeded without a strong partnership. “Measurement of our slate diversity was a natural next step to an already strong relationship between our teams. Our goal was to provide hiring managers with a balanced slate of candidates; ensuring we were considering women and minorities was a priority. From there, we could look to hard data that could pinpoint our hiring strengths and gaps. Our recruiters were accountable for the slate, but the hiring managers were ultimately responsible for how they moved the needle and impacted change.”

Talent acquisition’s position did not differ from the diversity team’s; both felt pressure to influence slates through smarter sourcing. Adding to this pressure was the small size of the two-member diversity team, which became the head and heart along with the talent acquisition team. The recruiting team became the arms and legs. They needed additional resources to support and enforce shared accountability. After the teams pulled and reviewed slate statistics for director-level roles, the 25 percent or less return rate demonstrated a major lack of diverse representation.

The teams got to work shortly after the centralization of talent acquisition in 2011. At the outset, efforts became mutually beneficial: embedding diversity in all processes to get the best long-term results. They started by training a handful of top talent — recruiters and HR business partners who heavily recruited for their client groups — in the best sourcing methods, requiring them to become subject matter experts through a nationally recognized certified diversity recruiter designation.

They also established a protocol to review slates biweekly to track and measure live data on which they could hold managers accountable. Two years later, the team still meets and reviews opportunities, slate composition and action items. The diversity and inclusion team inserted itself into business teams where slates were not diverse, and on several occasions paused hiring to implement a strategy to attract diverse candidates.

The diversity and inclusion and talent acquisition teams provided hiring managers with resources to source talent and equipped them with managers who would help source talent through social networking, LinkedIn and other partnerships such as National Association of African Americans in Human Resources and National Society of Hispanic MBAs. Ultimately, they homed in on community involvement and sponsorship, and deepened their level of involvement.

“We knew there’d be speed bumps before we found the smooth road to an effective slate process,” Roseboro said. “The quarterly reviews with leadership weren’t effective or frequent enough to hold managers accountable in the short term and drive change in the long term. We needed to identify where we lacked support, then have leadership’s commitment to enforce ‘accountability’ as the solution to leaders and the HR team.”

Today, hiring managers seeking director-level talent expect recruiters to present a diverse slate. There is a commitment to pause recruiting on roles until that 30 percent threshold is met. Slates initially were paused by talent acquisition, but now hiring managers often initiate the practice.

Everyone Plays a Role
With strategies to follow, the diversity and inclusion team, talent acquisition and top leadership were all marching toward the same objective to change the slate. The next step was to define roles and responsibilities to execute them.

Recruiters represent the first line of offense and are expected to present slate diversity in their performance reviews. Jones Lang LaSalle’s HR leadership recognizes their successes and coaches them when results fall short. By presenting a slate that demonstrated they were the first step to move the needle, slate representation becomes a source of pride. C-suite progress on diversity is tracked via a scorecard, including recruitment metrics and turnover, ultimately feeding into how performance is recognized and rewarded during performance reviews.

The organization also established a companywide Prism Award as a part of its national recognition program to award all efforts toward and dedication to the firm’s values.

“It is important for us to reward colleagues who demonstrate our core values — one of which is diversity,” said Laura Adams, executive vice president of human resources for Jones Lang LaSalle. “Nominees for and winners of the firm’s Prism Award have passion for helping attract, engage and retain diverse talent, ultimately diving the firm’s success and helping us win — both for our clients and for our own firm.”

In the last six months of 2012, talent acquisition averaged more than 60 percent slate diversity on director-level searches. Beyond the numbers, the company more vocally commends talent that recruiters bring to the table, which has resulted in a decrease in external searches performed and yielded more than $500,000 in recruitment-related costs savings.

Still, Jones Lang LaSalle’s D&I recruitment is a work in progress with room for improvement. Frequent slate reviews are still required to avoid slipping back into old, perhaps easier recruitment and sourcing behaviors. When the diversity and talent acquisition teams incorrectly thought their immediate impact to be long-term, slate diversity dropped in a few months, proving the initiative required regular maintenance, oversight and constant vigilance.

Both sides realized achieving solid slates was not the destination, but an evolution of where they intended to go. It required them to focus on three things:

• Learn and refine regularly. Assess what works, what does not and why.

• Share. Keep diversity and inclusion part of the conversation among HR’s talent management team, recruiters and most importantly, leadership. This is not an annual process, but an ever-evolving continuum that needs attention and care.

• Ritualize. Create consistency through regular, rhythmic processes and a conscientious eye. Diversity cannot be something additional or an afterthought.

Jones Lang LaSalle recognizes that slate representation will continue to challenge the firm. Talent acquisition is continuously working to shift hiring managers’ thought processes away from a punch list to more of a team structure.

By adopting this mindset, the impact of diversity and inclusion sourcing will trickle out to the overall firm, fostering a more culturally inclusive workforce that can generate more innovation from its talent.

Team leaders already have set their sights on ways to support, communicate and engage with more junior-level professionals. To foster an inclusive and communicative workforce, all employees need direct access to managers and to one another to drive conversation and achieve their personal and professional goals.

In the last year, the company created four distinct employee resource groups to support its female, African-American, Latino and LGBT talent. The groups, well-received, represented and supported by employees of all levels, have charters and recruitment-related goals that align with the slates.

Leadership also partnered with direct people managers in the firm’s business lines to discuss actions related to recruitment. In the past year, more than 800 managers took effectiveness training, which included diversity and inclusion throughout the five module program. By the end of this year the diversity team will begin to brand behaviors and actions that result in positive business and people practices. One example of this is hiring the right personal fit for the firm and culture, rather than for tactical skills or capabilities.

By joining forces, diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition and ERGs will create goals to foster relationships and influence pipelines. Joining forces also increases the number of mentor and coaching relationships, advocates for prospective employees and serves as a resource for support, as well as attendance at industry and recruitment events. These efforts link back to the importance not only of recruiting diverse talent, but of retaining it.

Corey Turner is senior vice president of human resources for Jones Lang LaSalle Americas. He can be reached at editor@diversity-executive.com.