Talent Management: Diversity only for the big Folks?

Think about all the practical approaches for doing TM that you have heard about. Would any of them work for most organizations? That is organizations with 100 or less employees. I can’t easily think of one either (unless it is the mantra of doing succession planning for the business owners?).

Let’s explore one item in particular: diversity.

The consensus notion of diversity is that the organization’s workforce replicates the diversity of its customer base or even the general population that it operates in.

For large organizations, they can (with surprising difficulty) make strategies to modify the demographic profile of its workforce over time to better reflect its external reference (customers/community population). Typically this could mean moving in targeted areas such as female representation in senior roles, aboriginals, people with disabilities, people of colour(???), and so on. Anyone who has observed larger organizations undertake this kind of effort can appreciate how difficult it is to achieve, especially if any of the targeted groups disproportionately lack critical competencies (e.g., technical training).

So if large organizations have difficulties with achieving marked sustaining progress, how can smaller organizations with fewer resources and flexibility (the ability to carry someone with marginal core competencies vs. non-targetted groups) be able to achieve progress? I would argue that smaller organizations must pay attention to having the best people they can find if they are to prosper (or even stay in business) regardless of any other desirable attributes such as those enunciated in the diversity is good proposition.

This is where the typical, employee centric notion of TM becomes the barrier to progress.

What is the real goal here?

  • Focus on being first a very successful business?
  • Or, focus on meeting a social goal that satisfies external stakeholders values and can have economic benefits?

These two questions create a form of decision making dilemma and uncertainty and risk (U&R) component.

While smaller organizations desire to make progress on diversity the above dilemma becomes materially real for them. They will quickly deal with this dilemma during recruitment.

Want diversity, but always choose the best candidate – will more often than not move them away from making progress on diversity. Why? Because if this were not true, they would have already made natural diversity progress in previous recruitment efforts.

Want good talent, but give a preference to “close” in competence but possessing a diversity attribute. The gnarly issue here is of course is what is “close”. It always means during recruitment “in reference to the best candidate”. Over time the organization will become in a comparative way less talent competitive.

The dilemma exists only because of the employee centric view of TM (and much of the advocacy around diversity). What if we were to adopt the non-employee centric view of TM advocated in this BLOG?

Then an obvious solution comes to mind – promote diversity wherever we can: within the workforce, with our suppliers, with our customers. In this notion, we don’t limit our pursuit of our diversity goal in the smallest arena only (i.e., our organization).

If readers would like some thoughts on how we might do these – please ask.


About 123stilllearning456

As a management consultant I am passionately interested in talent management and risk/uncertainty issues. In the area of talent management I propose that we seek strategies that look beyond the staffing/employee centric frames of reference. I have been frustrated at the "closing down on possibilities" by these more conventional staffing/employee centric approaches. I have been impressed where people have found systematic solutions to their talent management issues by going beyond the conventional approaches. In the area of risk and uncertainty, I am interested in making this topic relevant to more normal decision making situations. My conceptual foundation is to use the micro-economist's fixed/variable cost theme. I also think it is important to look at these issues for people through their emotional and psychological lens. As a premise I think risk and uncertainty only exist where there is a person who cares about possible events and its consequences. Hence, risk and uncertainty are social based concepts (no sentience, no risk and uncertainty). A major influence on my thinking in this area is Nassim Taleb of "Black Swan" fame. This BLOG provides me with an opportunity to express my thoughts on topics that interest me. As this is an online diary, content is more important to me than polish. I apologize if this distracts from readers' enjoyment and learning. Still I find this a useful way to live up to my namesake, learn more from others and hopefully provoke creative thoughts and ideas in others.
This entry was posted in Decison Making, Risk & Uncertainty, Talent Manangement. Bookmark the permalink.

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