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How do we get Minority Representation in Senior Level Executive Roles? Hmm...

Anthony Lowe January 28, 2020

I have been speaking with Senior Level HR and Recruitment Leaders about the challenges facing their organisations for the last 5 years. In that time, aside from the typical challenges of reaching the best candidates before the competition, having a seamless and timely recruitment process that engages candidates throughout and just coping with the sheer volume of applications they receive - one challenge has repeated itself consistently and now more than ever has become a cornerstone of the currently trending topic that is...Diversity and Inclusion.

The challenge is this - How do we get BAME minority representation into Senior Executive roles?

In a recent conversation with an industry colleague I put forward the following, which was so well received that it was suggested I put together this article. The answer to the above question is certainly not one that can be answered overnight (or answered at all in my experience over the last 5 years). However, many great steps are being taken by our Diversity and Inclusion peers.

Here, in my opinion, are some suggested steps that can be taken in order to lead us in the direction of answering this question once and for all.

A good starting point in my opinion is to identify what the current experience is for the target demographic within your organisation - at entry level and beyond but NOT in senior roles. How did they find the job? What made them apply? What did they think / feel about the business AND the role when they first joined? Do they enjoy working for the organisation? What do they want from the role?

Establishing this begins to build a picture of the current experience for the target demographic within your organisation. From here, you can begin to ask questions to establish that demographic's perspective of senior roles. For example, What do you think a senior executive role involves? What is your perspective of your current colleagues in senior executive roles? (admittedly, here you might get some unsavoury responses - BUT this is the point!) If you don't know the reality of what your employees believe about your organisation, you will not be able to ever make any realistic change.

Interestingly, although many many BAME professionals have senior level aspirations, it is not the case that every single one of us wants to be in this kind of role, for a variety of reasons, including their perception of the previous colleagues in the senior level role in question or even just the role itself.

Although there may be representation of a particular demographic within an organisation, if the business does not know and understand the drivers and motivators of that demographic or even just their thoughts of themselves, the business and the roles on offer, then I feel it is very difficult to present senior level executive opportunities in a way that will encourage your targeted demographic to apply.

This is only the beginning.

From here my suggestion is to speak with the target demographic you currently have in senior roles and understand what their view is on their journey to date. What drove them to apply? How did they feel throughout the recruitment process? How do they feel now they are in the role? These are just some of the types of questions you should be asking the individual to understand their perspective on how it feels to be in the role AND the journey to get there.

From here, do the analysis to understand the profile (make up) of the type of person who represents the desired demographic and is currently in a senior executive role.

At this point you can begin to use the uncovered information when designing your advert for your senior level opportunities, or when deciding your selection criteria or even in the interview stage and hopefully you will begin to find candidates who NOT ONLY have the skills to perform in role but ALSO, have the drivers of what someone from that demographic would need in order to be successful in the role.

 

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