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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Diversity series: Recruiting Diversity Begins with Senior Leadership and Members of the BOD



By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Earlier this month, Apple released its employee diversity numbers and like many organizations in Silicon Valley and technology, the number of women and minorities employed was extremely low. There’s been a huge movement to hire women in STEM. Last month Google launched Women Techmakers, a program focused on providing women an opportunity to learn how to code. The program’s response was overwhelming so much that it is no longer accepting applications at this current time.

While I’m excited about the focus on diversity in hiring in organizations, a company can’t begin to take a truly focused diverse mindset until it changes two things.

Companies must hire more women and minorities in senior leadership positions. At current there are less than 5 percent women in senior leadership and CEO roles in the Fortune 500. If you take a look at those on the board of directors of these organizations who are making long term business decisions for not just a division or location, but the entire company that number is less.

For a company to truly be diverse with their recruiting efforts, they must begin hiring and recruiting senior leaders and members to the board of directors that are women and minorities. Otherwise, companies like Apple, HP and Google will continue to falter in their efforts. In order to begin lasting and meaningful change, they must change their efforts in senior positions and immediately. Women only hold 16.9 percent of board seats, 10 percent of boards don’t even have women on them and those numbers are barely changing.

Most board of director positions requires that you are first a CEO, which automatically disqualifies 95% of the women in the workforce. In order to fix this gap in women being appointed to the board of a company it’s necessary to get rid of this requirement. If companies feel like someone won’t be successful as a board member because they don’t have previous CEO experience it’s perfectly acceptable for mentorship programs, trial periods, and even training programs on how to be a public company director. The CEO isn’t necessarily the most powerful position in a company either. Positions like CIO, GM, or CFO have quite a bit experience in leading an important branch of a company.

Companies who want to expand diversity and start hiring women to their boards need to understand the value of diversification, especially when women primarily dominate the market in a lot of industries. Smarter hiring when it comes to those who affect the overall outlook of a company will help companies grow stronger bonds with the female demographic.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

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