There have been numerous research studies that support the proverb “birds of a feather flock together.” People tend to marry, be friends with or associate with those who share similar experiences, values, personalities, and demography. Employers tend to recruit and hire people who have comparable backgrounds, ideals, ethnicity, race, educational and socioeconomic levels, and other attributes that are dominant among their workforces.
When I was General Manager at Galavision I hired a young Puerto Rican female who worked for Wall Street as a successful trader to co-lead Advertising Sales for the TV network. She had no ad sales experience. Her resume was forwarded by a hiring manager from a sister network who did not even bother to interview her because she did not fit the profile that he was looking for rather than checking out her transferable skills. If she could succeed as a female trader, she could succeed at selling advertising, I thought. This young woman became our top producer and was later hired to lead Sports Advertising Sales for the sister network.
My executive assistant at Galavision was smart, driven and a fast learner. She started as an Account Executive and quickly rose to become the other Advertising Sales co-lead.
The tendency of “hiring our own” or candidates that fit perfectly into a particular role happens at Latino and non-Latino owned corporations, small businesses, for profit or not-for-profit boards. Familismo, which is at the core of Latin culture, makes us feel obligated to put family, close friends, and even Latino members of our community first when we are looking to hire.
We should be intentional about implementing diverse recruiting and hiring practices in order to succeed. In fact, these principles should be applied when building professional as well as personal networks.
Here are some recommendations to help you intentionally and systematically hire diverse talent:
- Look inside your organization for candidates whom you could relocate, promote, or pivot and train to fill a position.
- Hire based on skills, competencies, and merit, free from biases related to age, race, gender, and other personal characteristics. Read about a candidate’s professional background and skills BEFORE you look at their name to eliminate unconscious bias.
- Form a strategic alliance with an organization that provides access to a talent pool with people of diverse backgrounds that differ from your traditional channels or sources.
- Consider candidates who are looking to pivot from another business unit within your company or another industry but have transferable skills or can quickly learn new ones.
- If you are a Latino-owned business, hire non-Latino as well as Latino employees to represent your current or expanded customer base.
- There are many qualified workers who have taken themselves out of the workforce because they need more flexible schedules. Think about changing the scope of the role from full time to part time or job sharing.
- Involve people of other backgrounds and perspectives in the hiring process.
Diversity drives growth, creativity, innovation, and profitability.
Hiring a diverse team is just the beginning. Inclusion, Equity and Belonging are just as important. If an organization does not take meaningful steps in creating an environment where all employees feel included, heard, fairly treated, and have equal access to opportunities to learn and advance, diverse hiring practices are meaningless.