Shellye Archambeau: "3 Reasons Why Diversity is so Valuable in an Organization"
This is a guest blog post authored by Shellye Archambeau, the former CEO of MetricStream.
We are facing a talent shortage. According to Gartner, Inc.'s latest Emerging Risks Survey, talent shortage jumped from third to first place as the emerging risk for organizations worldwide going into 2019. A recent Conference Board report identified CEO's biggest worry in 2019 as the talent shortage. The last report from the Korn ferry Instutute confirmed that were are embarking on a significant workforce shortage.They predict that by 2025 the United States will have a workforce shortage of over two million representing approximately $210 billion in unrealized output and a by 2030 a staggering global workforce shortage of approximately 8.2 million and $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue. So, what does this have to do with diversity? Everything, but I’ll just focus on three key elements: attracting talent, retaining talent and getting the most impact from the talent you have.
1. Attracting New Talent
Non-Hispanic Whites comprise roughly 63% of the US population, and roughly 50% of them are female, meaning just 31% are white males. So, if your organization’s key roles and leadership are pulling primarily from the white male population, you are ignoring almost 70% of the population. Employee referral programs has consistently been one of the top three ways to recruit talent. Having a diverse workforce will exponentially increase an organizational pool of talent. For example, there are 300,000 diverse students at the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and graduating approximately 50,000 students every year. Having a diverse leadership team would connect organization to this pipeline. Is it a wonder there is a perceived talent shortage? The pool being targeted is too small. It is almost ironic that “Diverse Talent” refers to the majority of the population, non-Hispanic whites and females.
Companies need to widen the pool of talent they recruit from to create the necessary pipeline of talent to support their long-term needs. This widening won’t happen by accident. It needs to be a focused and concerted effort.
2. Retaining Talent
A key contributor to the talent shortage is talent leakage. If employees don’t feel embraced, supported and challenged, they don’t stay. While this is true for everyone, it is especially important for diverse employees who, by definition, are not well represented in the culture. Additionally, what has been uncovered is a large percentage of the diverse hires are the first people in their family to work for a corporation. Resulting in limited understanding or access to someone to provide guidance on how to navigate in that environment or what the conventional corporate social behavior or etiquette expectations. This is when understanding the difference between diversity and inclusion is paramount. Diversity deals with the characteristics inherent to each employee, such as race, gender, age, and sexual orientation. Inclusion tackles the lived experiences employees bring to their day-to-day work and how those experiences are accepted, valued, and welcomed.
In order to retain diverse employees and ensure they become part of the pipeline for key roles and senior positions, intentional efforts are needed to address the inclusion aspects of their work experiences.
3. Getting the Most from the Talent You Have
When companies face a talent shortage, it is even more critical to ensure they are getting the best contributions from their employees.The good news is that many of the practices and policies needed to retain employees also help them contribute at their full potential.
Employees want to feel not just inspired, but connected, appreciated and empowered. Connected means having relationships with management and other members of the team. They want to feel that others care about them.
Appreciation is not just periodic comments about an employee’s work product. Appreciation is personal. Employees want to know that they matter, and that others not only recognize and understand their efforts and talents; but are willing to give them feedback and support their growth.
Empowerment is beyond being given authority. It is also feeling trusted to act appropriately in decision making, prioritizing, managing, etc… The combination of authority and trust builds strength and confidence in employees. As businesses we will continue to struggle with a talent shortage until we learn how to embrace diversity as a founding principle to how we build organizations.
Under Shellye Archambeau's many years of leadership, MetricStream has grown from a newly-formed company in 2004 into a recognized global market leader with nearly 1,500 employees globally, as of 2018. The company has been recognized for growth, product innovation, and customer success, and has been consistently named a leader in GRC by leading independent analyst firms. Named one of the “Most Influential African-Americans in Technology” by Business Insider, Archambeau knows what it’s like to be a woman of color in a traditionally non-diverse industry. And while diversity within an organization isn’t something that happens overnight, Archambeau also views it as an essential element for strong, innovative, and creative global companies—and something that needs to be led by those at the top. She previously held senior positions with IBM during a 15-year-long career there, and was the first African American female to be sent on international assignment by IBM. She talks to audiences about the power of diversity and its benefits to workplaces, and provides a road-map for building a community that celebrates all backgrounds and perspectives.