As global practice leader for recruitment process outsourcing at ManpowerGroup Solutions, Jim McCoy strives to help organizations recruit and retain a diverse workforce. McCoy, who identifies as LGBT, knows from experience how embracing diversity in the workplace can lead to better business results.
“Diversity should be the means, not the end,” McCoy said. “Embrace diversity not just for the sake of being diverse, but for how it drives innovation, improves your culture and performance.”
Below are edited excerpts from McCoy’s interview with Diversity Executive.
Why is diversity important to the success of an organization?
Organizations that embrace diversity tend to outperform their peers on most measures of business performance. In fact, research such as the latest report from McKinsey, clearly shows that more diverse companies outperform their less diverse competitors — simply put, diversity makes financial and business sense. Diverse organizations benefit from the mosaic of different thoughts, experiences and ideas, which lead to innovation, progress and increased agility. They also have a keen appreciation for the needs of their clients as they better reflect the communities they serve. Moreover, by embracing diversity, organizations create a safe haven for employees, which generally result in greater employee loyalty, engagement and discretionary effort.
Developing a successful diversity strategy isn’t just about filling key talent gaps; it’s about hiring qualified people across all demographics, who can bring new ideas to the organization.
What are the areas of diversity and inclusion in which companies are most lacking?
Many companies have invested in improving gender, ethnic and LGBT diversity through recruiting efforts, investments in business resource groups and in diversifying their executive ranks. The new frontier for diversity and inclusion for many companies is in providing meaningful employment for returning veterans and their spouses, as well as individuals with physical disabilities.
How can organizations better recruit for workplace diversity?
Organizations that specifically target one “minority group” over another run the risk of reverse discrimination — diversity should be about maximizing all backgrounds and perspectives. In fact, the most effective strategies promoting workforce diversity employ strategies to promote organizations’ employment value proposition to multiple audiences. Some include posting to a broad range of job boards and targeting channels that engage diverse candidates, developing relationships with national associations, attending events that target diverse job seekers, and encouraging community engagement and networking. Above all, company messaging needs to be authentic — real employees, not stock models, and real stories of people succeeding in an organization from all walks of life resonate best with candidates and assure greater employee engagement.
What are some strategies companies can implement to better retain a diverse workforce?
The first step is to define what diversity means to an organization and recognize that having a diverse workforce often means diverse needs. Many organizations have become more progressive in the way they look at flexible work arrangements. My own organization accommodates veterans’ spouses who need more flexibility to move with their significant others. We also look to create a flexible workday to enable all working parents to be available for their families. Last, but not least, inclusivity requires purposeful promotion and an ongoing culture shift led from the top. I have been committed to developing a diverse leadership team, which reflects the clients we serve and the colleagues we want to embrace and retain.
What effect does workplace culture have on sourcing and retaining diverse employees?
Individuals looking for role models most easily relate to people with similar backgrounds or experiences. As a result, organizations with diverse leadership tend to be more successful at sourcing and retaining diverse employees. Business resource groups provide great support to diverse employees and engagement with diverse community groups [and] further cement an organization’s commitment to diversity strategy.