NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, claims that employers can’t effectively meet customer needs without a diverse workforce. Carrie Hunter, Dell’s university relations lead for North America, agrees, saying diversity provides the most valuable customer solutions and products. Forbes Insights concludes its 19 page “Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workplace” report on global diversity and inclusion with the statement that “A Diverse and Inclusive Workforce is Critical for Success.” And there are plenty of federal acts related to diversity in organizations, including Affirmative Action in Employment, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. So why doesn’t every company practice diversity recruiting?

Diversity Is Difficult to Achieve

In “Diversity in Organizations,” Myrtle P. Bell explains that diversity and diversity recruiting requires a supportive climate because without it, the benefits diminish and negative consequences can result. She reports that in spite of the many documented benefits of diversity to individuals, corporations, and society, inequality, discrimination, and exclusion persist in the workplace, much of it with historical foundations. Diversity is difficult to achieve because the things that prevent it are complicated and not always easily recognizable. For example, white men are much more likely to be in leadership positions like manager, executive, or board member, and their commitment to diversity is crucial because diversity research shows that diversity initiatives are more successful when top management commits to them. But they probably do not have the same education and career experiences that minorities have and may not understand how to recruit and support diverse candidates, which is crucial to true diversity

Diversity Takes Commitment

Diversity recruiting can’t exist in a vacuum. It must be part of an organized diversity program for the best results. Diversity recruiting is the first step in achieving true diversity, but if there is no support or plan for successful integration of diverse candidates, they will not stay and become an integral part of the organization. One of the key findings in Forbes Insights report was that the responsibility for the success of diversity initiatives lies with senior management, and their commitment, accountability, and oversight is required to achieve true diversity. Forbes Insights surveyed more than 300 executives responsible for diversity and inclusion programs and found that 65 percent of them had official programs in place specifically to recruit, develop, and retain a diverse workforce. More than 50 percent of them practice diversity recruiting through university and graduate school diversity programs, and many are very active at diversity-focused job fairs and diversity-focused job web sites, and have diversity-focused employment portals on their company websites.

There Are Many Kinds of Diversity

Diversity recruiting is much more than merely hiring more women or people of color. In a global economy, a diverse workforce is required to compete, manage growth, build a sound infrastructure, and maintain a healthy bottom line. L’Oréal USA’s president and CEO Frédéric Rozé agrees, and notes in Forbes Insights that diversity recruiting is key to achieving the diverse workforce required to expand into emerging markets.

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Diversity recruiting and programs focused on gender diversity are the most common, with Forbes Insights reporting 81 percent of their survey respondents indicated they have them. Diversity programs focused on ethnicity, age, and race are also common. However, diversity recruiting also includes disability, nationality, sexual orientation, and veteran status.

Top companies such as AT&T, Intel, L’Oréal, Deutsche Bank, and Mattel that participated in Forbes Insights survey and report concluded that a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to business success. But retaining diverse employees may be more difficult than diversity recruiting. Diversity hiring must be supported by a diversity recruiting strategy, workplace diversity training, and most important, a commitment to diversity from the top.

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