Discovering and expanding diversity with authenticity

Publication Date28 May 2020
AuthorRobyn Brennaman
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Employee behaviour
Strategic Commentary
Discovering and expanding diversity with
Robyn Brennaman
The business case has long since
closed about the critical importance
and value of diversity in the
workplace. One would be hard-
pressed to find a single C-suite
executive or human resources (HR)
professional who does not
acknowledge that a homogenous(i.e.
white and/or male) workforce
impedes innovation, productivityand
the ability to attract and retain the
talent that can fuel a company’s
Even those who were late to accept
this reality recognize that a high-
minded mission statement or well-
crafted “Diversity & Inclusion”page
on their websites is no longer enough
to demonstrate a real commitmentto
diversity. To build a 21st century
workforce that reflects the panorama
of backgrounds, experiencesand
perspectives found in society and in
their clients and customers
companies need to act with intention,
thoughtfulness and authenticity. They
must recognize and overcome the
inherent or unconscious biasesthat
can infect even the mostwell-
intentioned hiring process.
Diversity below the surface
But as much as these biases can
strangle sincere diversity efforts,so
too can a narrow conceptionof what
diversity means. For too many,
building a diverse workforcedoes not
extend beyond recruiting and hiring
more women, people of color and
LGBTQ individuals. We should
applaud such efforts, of course,
especially at the executive and
management levels.
True diversity, however, is morethan
gender, skin color and sexual
orientation. It involves those who may
look the same but whose upbringings
and life experiences are dramatically
different. It includes searchingfor
those who may have nontraditional
career trajectories or educational
paths. It means hiring practices
designed to explore nuances, points
of view and traits that a resume does
not reflect. And it requires that the
people charged with hiring a diverse
workforce demonstrate thatthey value
and respect candidates.
Educational and socioeconomic
Eliminating bias is one of the most
challenging aspects of diversity
efforts. For many, this means
reviewing “blind” resumes that
remove names or other references
that would reveal a candidate’s race
or gender. While that may reduce
bias, it may not expand the pool of
candidates or shield a candidate from
other unfair or outdated prejudices
and presumptions.
Educational pedigree for betteror
worse remains an inflection point for
many companies when considering
candidates. But those who summarily
reject candidates because of where
they went to school, operate on a
Robyn Brennaman is based at
Jobplex, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
DOI 10.1108/SHR-06-2020-183 VOL. 19 NO. 3 2020, pp. 141-142, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1475-4398 jSTRATEGIC HR REVIEW jPAGE 141

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