As I wrote in Coaching Your Way to Success, organizations spend billions of dollars on talent management and diversity, but nothing seems to be working. Training, leadership development and mentoring programs are where most of the money goes but these strategies continue to fall short of desired results. If your organization is struggling with attaining a diverse pipeline, I have a question for you:
What is stopping you from elevating diverse talent into key leadership positions?
Lack of diversity remains a substantial talent management issue. In most cases, talent spend is allocated to training; not game changing staff moves because there are way too many reservations. Some are real and others are illusions. I am going to focus on the illusion part of this equation, and am sharing the top three that I have encountered and research-backed thoughts on how to escape them:
1) I don’t have any diverse talent to consider in my organization. If this is the case in your organization, first take a look at your talent acquisition process. What kind of packages are you offering? Are you fulfilling the promises you made in the interview process? Next, evaluate the talent you do have (there has to be some). Are your perceptions impacted by illusions #2 and #3? Read on.
2) The talent is not ready yet. Nobody is ever 100% ready, and organizations tend to acknowledge this. The issue is that, according to research, organizations are more likely take a chance on men than they are on women. Men tend to be evaluated on potential and, women, on performance. Our perspectives are biased.
If you can take a step back and recognize that bias, the good news is that even if your talent is not 100% ready, there are a number of things you can do proactively invest in their success including: leadership coaching, championing and other day-to-day actions that promote equity and inclusion. You would be surprised what smart people can do if you give them a chance and invest in them.
3) The talent does not seem interested. Research shows that that the mere presence diversity on teams may hamper cohesion. People are more comfortable working (and interacting) with others that are similar to them. Are you only considering people that are just like you for key leadership roles? Similarity bias is something to keep an eye on because it’s a common unconscious bias.
Before you make the “uninterested” conclusion, consider your criteria. What indicates if someone is interested? Is it the same across the board? The only way you will know if someone is interested is if you ask. Also, if the job does not appear desirable, interest will be a universal issue.
There are many more illusions out there but these are the top three that I repeatedly hear. You never know what an employee wants if you don’t have a conversation with them. Once you get in the habit of having genuine conversations, you will minimize your illusions. Employees will never get the experiences they need if they are not given the chance, a chance that may be game changing for your organization.
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