Why These Common Mistakes Prevent Diverse Hires From Staying
By: Sarah Robins
If you’ve ever made a big change in your life, you know it’s not as easy as a one-time decision. Beginning a workout routine for the first time, training your mind to focus more on positive aspects of life, or quitting a bad habit are all daily decisions that we pursue not because they’re easy, but because the long-term outcome is more beneficial than staying in our comfort zone. Changes that come from a true desire to grow are a daily effort until they become ingrained in our natural habits.
When organizations hire for diversity for the first time, that hire often doesn’t work out. Not because there’s a lack of desire, but because organizations fail to realize the daily commitment it will take to embrace and implement this change. While an organization’s intentions are often good when it comes to their diversity efforts, there is a lot that goes into making sure diverse hires have a voice and feel like they are part of the team. It can be scary to be the first, and oftentimes the only person of a different background in an organization. That means it’s critical for organizations to understand and seek to ease the challenges of this transition for your first diverse hires.
To better help Christian organizations and churches through this process, we recently kicked off our new diversity practice that focuses on consulting with organizations on building a culture of belonging, rather than just finding a diverse hire. I sat down with our Director of Special Initiatives and Operations, Chantel McHenry to discuss common mistakes organizations make in their diversity hiring and how to overcome some of the challenges often encountered in this process.
What Prevents Diverse Hires From Sticking?
There are various reasons your first diverse hire might not stick. Your new hire may feel discouraged when they don’t see others like them represented in the organization. This could either mean that your organization might not have made the necessary heart changes required to create an environment that embraces diversity or you could just be early on in your efforts. If the latter is true, be sure you stay in close communication with your new hire. Ask for their input, have frequent check-ins, and let them know your heart and intent to continue your efforts and provide a comfortable environment for all employees. Turnover will happen quickly if your first diverse hires do not feel welcome or valued. This can be detrimental to your efforts. And at Vanderbloemen, we know how expensive a short-lived hire can be.
In order to help your diverse hires feel seen, heard, and supported, find someone to champion them. There has to be someone in the organization who can encourage and fight for them to feel welcomed. This person should walk alongside your new hire and make sure they know they are valued. There can be a different person for each new hire or you can create a position completely focused on diversity efforts, where championing new hires is part of their role.
Furthermore, the entire organization needs to be prepared for the new diverse hires. It is important to be mindful of the things you say and the decisions you make and how that might affect someone else. Everyone in the organization needs to help integrate the new diverse hire and cultivate a belonging environment of diversity. This may involve putting new values or documentation in place to hold your team accountable if you are serious about change and progress.
The Most Common Pitfall Organizations Pursuing Diversity Face
Organizations can have the best intentions of creating a diverse workplace but still fall short of doing so well. One of the most common pitfalls organizations have when looking to become diverse is unconscious bias within the staff. It is important that everyone within the organization take time to understand what biases they have that they are not aware of and how they can work to overcome them. It can be a scary and uncomfortable process, but moving past bias allows us to work toward unity.
A quick and easy way to get this conversation started on your staff is by taking our free Diversity Readiness Tool. This will show you the areas where your organization can improve and open up talking points that you may not have thought of otherwise. Once you start the conversation, it’s important to keep it going. Make sure you have intentional meetings on your diversity efforts or a diversity advocate ensuring any new initiatives align with your organization’s diversity goals.
Getting past unconscious bias is so important because building a strong culture around diversity requires authentic relationships. And real relationships require mutual respect and love that can’t be achieved with unconscious biases. For new hires, especially those who differ from your cultural norm, to succeed, they need to feel a sense of belonging.
What Is The Benefit Of Having An Expert Help With Hiring For Diversity?
Outside consultants can help organizations walk through this process by helping them recognize the work that needs to be done. An outside perspective can help identify the potential problems that those within the organization might not recognize.
If you are looking to diversify your staff, we would love to help. We walk alongside churches and Christian organizations that seek to become more diverse by providing in-person consulting and offering a custom strategic plan with recommendations specific to your goals. Connect with someone on our team if you have questions or want to discuss diversity consulting more in-depth.