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By Todd Dewett | Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hiring for Diversity

Diversity in the Workplace

This week I’ll address diversity in the workplace from a different perspective than the one you may be used to. In the first tip, I’ll take aim at the competency model, an unexpected barrier to building diversity.

Competency models are lists of skills and traits thought to be associated with successful people in a given environment. They’re tools used to assess and evaluate people. Companies use them for everything from interviewing and hiring, to leadership development and performance reviews.

They’re very useful—but here’s the problem: We over use them to the point that we stop thinking about the unique ways that people might add value; instead we just compare them to a generic list. As a result, we tend to hire and promote people who look and feel quite similar to the employees we already have. That’s not hiring for diversity.

In the second tip, I’ll explore a complementary idea: why we need to proactively hire people who don’t fit our typical model. Our systems are generally geared to identify and hire “safe” and predictable people, but innovation and change require fresh thinking. That’s why you want to find just a few originals—people with great credentials who don’t look and feel like everyone else.

Maybe they come from a different industry, or have a very different academic background. Maybe they’re younger than most people typically hired for this role, or let’s say their look is even a little eccentric. Good! You’ll need to work hard to ensure the system accepts them, but it’s worth the effort. They’ll inject the type of new energy and perspective needed to boost real change and improvement.

Diversity is an important goal, so we can’t let rigid tools and processes defeat our efforts. Check out this week’s tips to find out how to overcome them.

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