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How To Bring Diversity To Your Business

Diversity is the right thing to do — and diversity is good for business.
Photo: | Shutterstock

“When you have diversity in the room, diversity of thought, diversity of skill set, you're going to get much better performance," said Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, in a virtual dialogue produced by the Collin County Business Alliance to explore how to diversify the talent pipeline and help minority-owned businesses thrive in Collin County. 

Companies with greater ethnic and cultural diversity in their executive ranks are 36% more likely to outperform their less diverse competitors, according to a report from McKinsey & Company. Corporations with executive teams with more than 30% women are as much as 48% more likely to outperform those with fewer or no women.

"While we’re absolutely similar in our common humanity, we have a lot of rich diversity when it comes to our backgrounds and cultures," said Sanjiv Yajnik, President of Plano-based Capital One Financial Services and board chair of the Collin County Business Alliance. "I’ve found that when you bring the two together — our common humanity and our rich diversity — you can drive bold innovation that you could not otherwise create, which leads to excellence in our products and amazing outcomes for our customers.”


If you want to diversify your recruitment, diversify your recruiters.

“The recruiting organization within a company is really the first place that a candidate learns about the culture and the values of that company," said Marissa Horne, Vice President of Financial Services Technology and Data at Capital One, participating in the CCBA panel. “So it is really important that recruiters are able to speak to the values that are important to the organization because that's going to give the candidate the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not they really want to join your company."

“You want to look like the people you're trying to attract," added Hattie Hill, President and CEO of the T.D. Jakes Foundation. "People want to see themselves."


Businesses large and small are under enormous pressure to fill every vacancy at an ASAP pace. But if you're serious about finding diverse candidates for your business, take your sweet time.

"Sometimes you're looking to hire as fast as you can, and it's all about speed," said Horne. "But I would charge each of us to take the time to consider a diverse slate of candidates because that's going to help ensure you’re considering the right markets."


If job seekers want to know if a business is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the company must go beyond spelling it out on the corporate website.

“We’re seeing a shift for people not necessarily looking for that job with the most pay but for that job that’s the best fit, where they have the best community, and where they can feel like they're at home and supported," said Jamie Ghezzi, Talent Management Director at Ericsson in Plano.

And the interview process is the hiring team's no-time-like-the-present opportunity to answer questions about diversity -- and ask them as well.

“Many organizations will ask candidates about DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] during the interview to ensure that candidate also understands the commitment that the organization has," said Mandy Price, co-founder and CEO of Dallas-based Kanarys.

It's about putting your cards on the table. 

“They’re shopping your organization just like you’re shopping employees," added Hill.


Jamie Ghezzi described Ericsson's use of AI-infused software in diversity training.

“Using AI technology, we’re able to put them in a platform where they are role-playing and doing actual conversations and seeing reactions and having that experience of being able to deliver feedback and being in those situations that they may be uncomfortable with," she said. 

Ericsson examines workplace communication with the help of platforms like Textio, giving them the ability to analyze fraught words and phrases that pop up in meetings, interviews, job listings, performance reviews, and social media posts. "It helps us to make sure that any time we're doing a job recruitment or job description we're using language that is universal and unbiased that can appeal to different, diverse populations," said Ghezzi.

Mandy Price agreed on the data-driven approach to analyzing workforce diversity and inclusion, citing Kanarys' work with Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group. "They have committed to several meaningful measures like standardizing their talent acquisition process with standardized interview questions and scorecards to help eliminate bias from the interview process," she said.


“In the technology space, to help drive talent of the future, it's really important that businesses partner with ISDs and universities, especially here in North Texas,” said Horne.

She cited Capital One's role as an industry partner with the Dallas Independent School District's P-TECH program (short for Pathways in Technology Early College High School). Dozens of North Texas companies collaborate with the district to expose students to the business world through mentoring, internships, career panels, and good old-fashioned field trips.

“I think it's on us as a major company to partner with schools," said Horne. "We really want to make sure that the pipeline is as strong as possible."


"Companies that focus solely on diversity become a revolving door of talent as a deep sense of belonging for these diverse groups is not cultivated," said Price.

So if your business makes a real dent in diversifying the talent pipeline, don't just call it a day.

"It's not a one-time training that a company can go through but an open invitation to continuously examine the intrinsic biases found in these policies, including looking at how we hire and promote," she said. "Changing company culture requires long-term investment and commitment."

“Creating a culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging is incredibly important because it gives every employee the opportunity to reach their full potential," said Yajnik. "When employees feel that they belong, they can thrive and find meaning, purpose and connection in their work."

And when we make that connection, everyone profits.

“It’s a win-win situation when you do the right thing by people," said Contreras-Sweet.