Human Resources mentor Rudy Karsan responds to the following question from an inc.com user:

"Many growing companies would like to develop a more diverse workforce, but run into difficulties in both sourcing and recruiting minority talent. What advice do you have for companies that are interested in hiring more minorities? What are the key obstacles most companies run into and what are the best solutions? Have you discovered any best practices for developing a diverse workforce?"

Rudy Karsan responds:
As with most large and complex questions, there isn't a single silver bullet answer. The basic question that most organizations have to ask themselves is, "What is our definition of a diverse workforce?" Today, our country's population indicates that almost 40% of our population is diverse -- and if one includes females as part of this definition, then diversity in our population rises to 65%-75%. The definition of what is meant by "diverse" -- whether it be based on race, sexual orientation, or another specific minority group definition -- will depend on the processes that a given organization wishes to carry out. The most successful plans that I have seen approach the problem over a period of years, rather than weeks and months. The policies that seem to have worked the best involve the following steps:

  1. "Diversity" -- Define this term for your organization so that you can identify the groups you wish to attract.
  2. Break down the recruiting processes between entry-level positions and positions that require more specific, advanced experience.
  3. Develop action plans that address the two definitions listed above. Some of the best practices that I have seen are dedicated, long-term recruiting efforts at some of the better-known, diverse colleges.
  4. Identify affinity groups that have very diverse populations. Once those affinity groups are identified, approach them for ads in their newsletters and spots on their Web sites.
  5. Have a very compelling story to tell about the importance of diversity within your organization -- and repeat it over and over again, both internally and throughout the recruiting process.
  6. Consider hiring people from outside the United States. This will require the organization to sponsor immigrants.
  7. Identify which of your customers are diverse, and approach them directly.
  8. Identify which stakeholders within your organization are diverse, and approach this group as well.

Each of these action items requires a lot of careful thought and definition. The process itself is not difficult once it is inculcated into the culture of your organization. It tends to build on itself and gather its own momentum. This momentum results in a larger number of applicants from the particular groups that you wish to attract.

Like all other processes, better planning and identification of the key issues up front will lead to better results.

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See Human Resources mentor Robert Hoffman's answer to the same question.