Recruiting Diverse Entry-Level Talent: Interview with Kathryn Christie #SHRM18



To get another perspective on diversity recruitment, I interviewed Kathryn Christie, the Director of Talent at Self Management Group. She has a passion for uncovering how to develop and retain high-performing employees to drive individual and organizational excellence. At the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition she will be presenting “Recruiting Diversity: Let’s Get Tangible.” Here we share her insight about recruiting diverse entry-level talent.

How can recruiters move away from relying on biases to evaluate candidates?

Kathryn Christie: The first piece is really just being comfortable with the fact that we all have bias and it’s how we get through the day. We would be completely frozen in making any decisions or getting ourselves through any simple tasks if we didn’t have bias that created shortcuts for us to do what we need to do. It’s not a bad thing inherently. A really big piece for people is to be aware and to understand that it’s OK. It’s just a matter of opening our eyes to them. One of my biggest recommendations is to really increase that self-awareness. Take the Implicit Association Test or some sort of bias assessment. There are tons out there that give you a barometer on where you are, based on your exposure in life up until now.

From there, get more intentional in noticing your biases during the day, as you go through resumes. You’ll start noticing them more and that really gives you the chance to stop yourself and say, “Wait a minute, am I making a generalization or thinking something about this candidate that they actually haven’t told me yet?” 

Try to slow yourself down in recruiting. I used to be a recruiter so I know it’s very, very busy, but when it comes to bias and recruiting diversity, it’s really about slowing down and being aware of how we’re doing things.

We’re seeing a trend of unconscious bias training but this comes down to behavior and attitude change. How can recruiters become truly more culturally competent?

Christie: Cultural competence is something we can work on every day, but we don’t always have the time to do that. Two key pieces are knowledge and exposure. Increase your knowledge on different cultures on how people, for example, may approach answering interview questions based on their culture.

A great example is people who are veterans and coming out of the military. They’re trained with a strong team orientation, so they’ll answer questions often with “we” instead of saying “I did this.” Sometimes they’ll get moved to the bottom of the pile because they didn’t show a hiring manager exactly what they did. But it’s the hiring manager’s responsibility to ask them and make sure that they’re getting the information they need.  The other piece is exposure. Get out there and volunteer, for example. Put yourself in some different circles to try and just expose yourself to some different cultural approaches. 

What kinds of mistakes or misguided approaches have you seen to diversity recruiting?

Christie: You’d be probably hard pressed to find an organization who doesn’t have diversity as a strategic goal. But when it comes down to recruitment it gets lost in three different spaces. First, when we’re trying to generate a pipeline, there is a lack of intentionality to get diverse quality candidates. And they won’t get hired if they’re not even in the pool. So sourcing is a really big issue.

The next piece is barriers that are embedded within the process that people don’t even know about. That is, job titles, job descriptions, and some processes are barriers. For example, some applicant tracking systems don’t allow candidates to put in gaps. They may stop the application because they took a leave of absence or they were off work for a certain amount of time and they don’t want to share that information. Little things like that are deeply embedded and actually knock people out of the process who might be great quality candidates from a diverse background.

The last piece is metrics. Diversity is tough one because we have legislation that we need to comply with. But aside from that, there aren’t easy objective criteria that we can use as metrics. So think about metrics to make sure people are actually doing this well on a regular basis and keep them accountable. Employers need to match their market. Look at the census data, see what your markets look like and make sure that your staff in that area match.



What metrics do you typically recommend for measuring inclusion?

Christie: Have employee resource groups available, have mentorship programs available and have access to support. And then on top of the support, it’s the engagement. So touch points with employees more than every six months or more than once a year. I always highly recommend doing stay interviews. Ask employees after their first three months to nine months why they’re still here. Don’t wait until they leave. Ask them, How do you feel, how are things going? What may cause you to leave, what’s keeping you here? Slice all that data up based on what group of people might be a part of, if there are any employee resource group, if they’ve self-identified as part of a diverse group. Then keep track of that data so that you can intervene before people leave. Know what your red flags are. That’s the most beautiful thing of talent management—we have all this access to this data and can use it to be proactive.

What are some of the most impactful talent acquisition strategies to recruit and retain diversity?

Christie: For entry level positions there’s often a lot of flow of candidates coming through. But if we just sort of “post and pray”, we’re not going to get that high quality diverse flow that we need. So create strategies that you can actually replicate very easily.

Also, get hooked in with different groups on campus and actually create a relationship with them where there’s some sort of reciprocity. Back in the day I had to recruit more women into trades like mechanics and other positions. I went to college programs for women in trades and said I wanted their top five in every graduating class. You have to create those relationships. And you have to narrow it down and pick your targets, become an expert and then move to the next.

For years, HR has relied on the business case to tell the impact of diversity. What else do you bring to senior leadership?

The bottom line is the hook. You get their attention by showing them the gains in productivity, profits, engagements, all that good stuff that they are looking for and they are measured on. But then it’s what happens next is where a lot of organizations falter. They get the buy-in and are told, OK, go do it. And they never come back. So you have to come back and say, “by the way we showed you the case and these are the actual results. This is what happens in the industry we’re seeing, but this is what happened here in the last eight months and this is what happened in the last year and this is what we spent, but this is what we gained.”

By showing that ROI is where you keep the conversation going and the resources coming. You need to show them again and keep committing them. In addition to the ROI, show productivity data too.


Originally posted on College





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