Maintaining a Lasting Diversity Recruiting Strategy

 Back in February, our President Mike Walsh wrote a blog about the importance of having a diversity recruiting strategy. This article noted the challenges to setting one in motion and possible solutions. What it didn’t cover however, was how to make sure that your efforts stay in place when the economy takes a downward turn.  

A recent article by Alexandra Kalev called How “Neutral” Layoffs Disproportionately Affect Women and Minorities, provides some valuable points I think are important to share.

Diversity is Often Compromised By Downsizing

During times of adversity, companies tend to do layoffs by the typical method of last hired – first fired, which often they don’t realize is in direct opposition to the gains they made through their diversity recruiting efforts. Alexandra’s article noted that, “when companies take a “last hired, first fired” approach to layoffs, they lose nearly 19% of white women in management and 14% of Asian men.” That’s an incredible amount of loss!

Performance Should Be Evaluated

Another great point of Alexandra’s was that the elimination of positions without regard to performance results in a major drop in diversity. In fact, “when organizations cut positions rather than evaluate individual workers, they end up with an immediate 9%–22% drop in the proportion of white and Hispanic women and black, Hispanic, and Asian men on their management teams.”

The next time your company needs to go through lay-offs, consider using a process that focuses on talent, potential, and hard work rather than titles alone. This method will ensure that you keep your top talent and maintain your diverse workplace. Alexandra made an incredibly powerful statement that echoes this, “companies that lay off the managers with the poorest performance see no reductions in diversity.”

Wipe Out Tenure 

In a world where people (in particular, Millenials) are switching jobs more frequently, companies need to adjust to the fact that tenure is not as relevant as it used to be. A healthy sense of urgency to stay up-to-date is important.

For instance, in our industry, new certifications for marketing and social networks are created every day and one of our jobs is to roll with the proverbial punches to deliver the best strategy, service and insight. Those staff members who feel that tenure matters more than continuous learning may disappoint you. This argument is especially important when it comes to maintaining diversity in your company because according to Alexandra, when the need for layoffs comes around, it hits departments like HR, legal, PR at the junior and mid-level, which are typically positions held by women and minorities.

Don’t let your company throw out their best performers simply because they happen to be in newly created or less prevalent positions, instead, consider promoting them.

Study Your Workforce

One sure fire strategy to maintaining your diverse workforce is to study it. Keeping detailed records of each department will allow you to look at the big picture when you consider making layoffs. Alexandra’s article suggests that some companies do what is known as adverse impact studies and analysis to determine the effect of layoffs within a certain department prior to making a definitive decision. By doing so, you will be informed, which is always the best way to make any major decision.


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