Diversity in Recruiting: Opinions and Facts

Bernard Baruch once affirmed. “Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.” It’s natural when you read a column on “diversity” to judge it by your own frame of reference and beliefs, your understanding, values, and stereotypes. This month we’ll look at a cross section of opinions and then quote some facts.First, what do some well-known people have to say about diversity? Mark Twain: “All I care to know is that a man is a human being. That is enough for me.” Helen Keller: “The highest result of education is tolerance.” Oscar Hammerstein: “If you really believe in the brotherhood of man and want to come into the fold, you’ve got to let everyone else in, too.” Walt Whitman: “Whoever degrades another, degrades me.” William Penn: “If it be an evil to judge rashly or untruly any single man, how much greater a sin it is to condemn a whole people.“Voltaire was pretty direct with “Prejudice is the child of ignorance“; Samuel Johnson was more candid, “To be prejudiced is always to be weak.” Henry David Thoreau offered, “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.” Friedrich Van Otto preached: “At the heart of racism is the religious assertion that God made a creative mistake when He brought some people into being.“Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed to the world, “Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another seeks to destroy all religions.“John F. Kennedy left no doubt where he stood. Read three of his memorable and poignant statements: “The rights of all men are threatened when the rights of any man are threatened.” – “Let us not be blind to our differences. But let us direct attention to our common interests and help make the world safe for diversity.” – “There are no ‘white’ or ‘colored’ signs on the graveyards of battle.“Max Lerner’s admonition is the last quote and one that serves as a practical, daily guide for living, “In the end, as any successful teacher will tell you, you can only teach the things that you are. If we practice racism, then it is racism that we teach.“The world is changing probably too quickly for a lot of us – but changing just the same. A recent sampling of facts proves this. These facts and statistics appeared in media articles, news commentaries, research studies, and “Factoids” published on DiversityInc.com.Last month we focused on GLBT issues, so let’s begin there. When more than 2,000 Americans were asked which groups of people were most vulnerable to harassment or denial of promotions in the workplace, 73 percent of the respondents said GLBT workers experienced this kind of discrimination (Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs survey).According to a nationwide survey by Novations/J. Howard & Associates, a Boston-based diversity consulting company, 25% of employed Americans heard someone in their workplace ridiculed last year because of their sexual orientation. The most frequent complaint, made by 33.7% of the 685 respondents in the telephone survey, was sexually inappropriate comments. The questions posed were, “Did you hear one or more colleagues at work do any of the following during 2002?” The “yes” answers in percentages:

  • Make a sexually inappropriate comment: 33.7%
  • Use a racial slur: 29.5%
  • Use an ethnic slur: 29.3%
  • Ridicule someone based on their sexual orientation: 24.4%
  • Ridicule someone based on their age: 22.9%
  • Ridicule someone because they are disabled: 7.2%

How many of the Fortune 500 Companies have polices that address sexual orientation? The Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. reports that 296 of these companies have sexual orientation policies and that 172 companies offer domestic-partnership benefits.What is the current and future buying power of various diversity groups in the United States? Buying power for the GLBT market in 2002 was estimated at $451 billion and projected to reach $608 billion by 2007. The combined buying power of African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans in 2007 should more than triple its 1990 level of $453 billion, totaling almost $1.4 trillion (Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia).Gallup polls in 2001 and 2002 found that 66% of African Americans believe that race relations will always be a problem in this country. The 2002 poll indicated that many African Americans are not satisfied with their jobs and personal safety.The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, reports that about 26 of every 100 African American men and 20 of every 100 Latino men with graduate degrees will attempt to start a new business. Many believe that this is a direct result, whether perceived or real, of the dearth of opportunity for senior level positions in corporate America. Research from the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce suggests that minority businesses have little access to capital and few chances of bidding for and winning significant contracts from large firms. According to the Bureau of Census, minority businesses are growing six times faster than non-minority firms despite these challenges.Women hold 2,140 of the 13,673 officer positions in the Fortune 500 according to Catalyst’s 2002 Census. Four hundred and twenty-nine of the Fortune 500 companies have at least one woman corporate officer.Asian Indians are the fastest-growing segment among all Asian groups in the United States, now totaling nearly 2 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, the Asian-Indian population currently is the sixth-largest ethnic community and third-largest immigrant community – behind Mexicans and Chinese – in the United States.Eleven percent of U.S. residents age 5 and older, or about 28 million people, speak Spanish at home. Thirteen percent of Americans identify as black or African American, a total of 34.7 million people; the Latino population grew 58 percent over the past decade (2000 U.S. Census). Today women earn 57% of undergraduate degrees, 50% of law degrees, and 44% of business degrees. The U.S. Census reports that the number of people with disabilities in the workplace has risen from 43 million in 1990 to 54 million in 2000. Korn Ferry, one of the nations’ leading executive search firms states that 41% of Fortune 1000 firms have African Americans on their boards.Last December’s issue of Diversity Monitor, published by Hunt-Scanlon, stated, “The executive career site of The Wall Street Journal, “CareerJournal.com, reported that executives who are over age 50 may have an especially difficult time finding employment because many companies are hesitant to hire older workers who may cost more than their younger counterparts.”The world is indeed changing!There are a number of topics that I would like to discuss in future issues of TFL but I need your help. Please let me know what subjects are of the most interest to you. I’ll list the topics here and ask you to prioritize them. Please send me an email (frank@diverseworkplace.com) with your selection of the top ten. Thanks.1. How to deal with cultural differences when interviewing candidates.2. What does the business case for diversity really mean?3. Working with older candidates. Aging in the workplace.4. Placing candidates with disabilities.5. The new trend of recruiting firms offering (and charging for) coaching services for candidates placed.6. What do companies look for in a recruiting firm? How do companies evaluate recruiting firms?”7. The recruiting firm’s place in job search networking.8. Teaching candidates to ace the interview.9. Where are the jobs for diversity candidates? What industries are most interested in hiring diversity candidates? What companies view diversity recruiting as a priority?10. When do companies want to use candidate research? Why do companies want to use research? Where research sells? What disciplines are the best prospects for candidate research?11. Marketing tools for recruiting firms.12. Developing new specialty areas.13. Networking and partnering with diversity organizations.14. How to build a database of prospective diversity candidates.15. Identifying and using diversity candidate resources on the Internet.16. Diversity online: beyond direct sourcing.17. Case studies of diversity searches.18. Finding passive diversity candidates on the Internet.19. Helping your clients to plan and implement a diversity recruiting strategy.20. Building networks with diversity candidates.21. Using the client’s culture to find and place the best and brightest diversity candidates.

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Frank X. McCarthy is Partner in Charge of Diversity Practice with The Corporate Source Group. He was a Catholic priest from 1956-70, working in parish and school assignments, serving as a paratrooper chaplain with the 101st Airborne, and as pastor and director of an African American community project in Paterson, NJ. He founded Xavier Associates and conducted diversity searches for over 25 years. Frank is a well-known and widely respected author and speaker on workplace diversity, recruiting, and candidate research. He can be reached: frank@diverseworkplace.com


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