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BASF's Diverse Candidate Slate Initiative

BASF's Chief Diversity Officer Pat Rossman shared with DiversityInc the company's diverse candidate slate initiative.

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By Shane Nelson

On May 20, 2016, I delivered a benchmarking debrief to BASF’s diversity council at its North American headquarters in Florham Park, NJ. It was a month removed from the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 event, in which it was announced that BASF ranked No. 24 on the Top 50, moving up four spots from the previous year. There was a lot of momentum and Chief Diversity Officer Pat Rossman wanted it to continue, so she didn’t waste time in scheduling the debrief. It was a very good meeting and I learned about BASF’s diverse candidate slate initiative.

Eighty-seven percent of companies that participated in the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 survey required diverse candidate slates for openings. That is up from 69 percent in 2011. However, the best companies for talent management distinguish themselves from the rest by requiring a high percentage of candidates to be diverse. BASF is one of those companies, and they took another step to raise the bar. I followed up with Rossman to discuss in more detail.

The Need for a Robust Diverse Candidate Slate

On the surface, BASF wants its internal talent composition to reflect the external talent market availability in North America. Rossman explained, “We believe that diverse perspectives, different ways of thinking, help us anticipate and meet market needs in new ways. They help us look at problems differently, and help make BASF more innovative and a stronger partner for our customers.” Rossman considers the leveraging of different backgrounds and perspectives a business advantage.

And that is precisely the catalyst for implementing a diverse candidate slate. Rossman describes the company’s diverse candidate slates as aspirational goals to reflect the diverse mix of the talent market in the region “Our aspirational goal is that half of the people that are interviewed for a role, or at least half, are diverse and reflect some measure of gender diversity, racial, ethnic diversity,” explained Rossman. “We’re also looking for people who bring different market perspectives to our organization.”

That’s a very good start — but, according to Rossman, it’s still not enough: “Our aspirational goals are twofold: 50 percent of the people interviewed for roles are diverse, and 50 percent of the people doing the interviewing are diverse.” Do both sides of the equation matter? BASF agrees that they do. Rossman pointed out, “Both sides matter because we’re also looking to have people who reflect different perspectives listen for the different kinds of potential and competencies and talents that people bring to our organization. We want to make sure that we’re reflecting a perspective that takes all of those differences into account and understand how we can leverage difference as a strong business advantage, and part of building a great place to work.”

The world’s leading chemical company, whose motto is "We Create Chemistry," sought to create chemistry in its recruitment process. By looking at both sides of the equation, the company ensures that it shrinks the aperture that potential diverse candidates might fall through.

The company’s goal is all about hiring the best talent for the role. In order to do so, explained Rossman, “you must look through as many different angles as you can to determine who is the best talent for the role.”

“When you have different perspectives reflected in the interview team, you’re asking a different level of questions, you’re probing different experience levels, and that’s all very, very helpful.”

Rossman outlined another benefit of the initiative. She explained, “What we also find is, we’re also reflecting out to the external market (the candidate community) that we’re looking to build a diverse and inclusive work environment. That is very important to us.”

She agrees that brand awareness is a critical component of BASF’s diversity strategy. “One of the things that we’re trying to do is really establish that BASF is a place where great people can do great work. And so we’re trying to see how we can improve our brand as a great place to work, and one of the ways we’re doing this too is through the interview experience.”

“We’ve actually received some recognition with outstanding candidate experience awards, and that’s the kind of verification we appreciate. If you join BASF or if you work with us as a collaborator, an innovation partner, a customer, a competitor, we want to make sure it’s a positive experience. We’re finding that this new approach for interviewing is very positive across a number of levels.”

Success in Adjusting Job Requirements

BASF initially found that some of its good intentions were not giving it the results it was looking for. In particular, the company found that it was very rigid in its requirements for jobs. Rossman explained, “We were being so deliberate, we had 10 or 12 specific requirements for a job. We found that we were screening out a lot of great talent because we were being so literal and so deliberate.” Rossman continued, “we were finding that while we might have 10 or 12 very specific requirements, the industry best practice was five or six that are much more competency-directed, looking at leadership potential. It was not as detailed as 20 years’ experience in radiant flooring technology, or something like that.”

“We changed the way we posted and described our jobs, so that they showed much more of the higher-level competencies and traits and skills that lead to someone being very successful at BASF. By doing that, we broadened the talent pool from which we select.”

The change was especially needed and very much welcomed in the chemical manufacturing industry. Rossman elaborated, “We draw quite a bit from an engineering population, and engineering is a great example of a type of job that’s really a problem-solving job, people who are innately curious, who love solving problems, who love looking at customer challenges in new ways. But some of the language that we were using to describe those jobs was not reflecting the excitement that they bring.

So our efforts to change the way we positioned some of our roles were truly additive, because it allowed us to reach out to a much broader population and to attract great talent from all backgrounds, and that has been a positive change that has come about through this effort to look more deliberately at all aspects of our hiring process. By being more intentional in how we described our roles at a higher level, and less literal and less focused on finite, very detailed aspects of it, we found that we attracted a broader spectrum of great talent, and that is one of the positive successes of this effort that we are engaged in.”

Helping Hiring Managers

The initiative has also widened the lenses of the company’s hiring managers. Rossman explained that human nature is that as hiring managers we all tend to feel a comfort level with ourselves and therefore tend to write the job description in a way that is very reflective of the incumbent that we have or had. “This is true across industry, that there is a comfort level with the people who are most like us. And this was one of the drivers, the encouraging drivers, of our effort to broaden the pool of talent that we interviewed. We want to help our hiring managers see that there is great talent out there in the North American market that may come from all different backgrounds and experience levels, and as we get to know people, you go deeper than the résumé.”

“So, I think it one of the challenges across industry is when you’re looking through résumés, you tend to look at résumés to say who reminds you most of yourself at an earlier stage in your career or who went to the same school, who comes from the same part of the country. This is human nature; there’s a comfort level. So I think things like what we are doing, in saying that half of the people that you’re interviewing have to bring some element of diversity and difference, half of the people doing the interviewing have to be diverse, are the circuit breakers that help us truly find the best mix of talent, and go beyond our comfort zone and help us ask questions about the fit for a role.”

AT&T Reaches 10-Year Milestone of Celebrating Employee Resource Groups

The annual gathering is significant because it's the "life blood of the culture of our company," said Corey Anthony, senior vice president-human resources and chief diversity officer.

AT&T (No. 3 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) reached a milestone this fall with its 10th annual Employee Resource Group (ERG) conference in Dallas. The company is committed more than ever to expanding its 12 ERGs, which grew in membership in 2018.

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Reaching Your Full Ability with a Disability

Comcast's Fred Maahs talks access to the boardroom.

By Frank Kineavy

Fred Maahs started his corporate career 36 years ago while working his way through college – just two years after a diving accident left him partially paralyzed.

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Overcoming Microaggressions, Crushing Your Goals and Being Successful

Dianne Greene, Division Vice President and General Manager at ADP, talks about how she overcame micro aggressions at another company early on in her career by focusing on what mattered to her and the business most.

Dianne Greene is currently the Division Vice President and General Manager of ADP’s new facility in Norfolk, Va., where she leads the joint delivery of business unit and function operational objectives, service innovation strategies, process standardization and continuous improvement for the entire “OneADP” site as it rapidly grows to over 2,200 associates.

Dianne has 26 years of service leadership experience including the creation, expansion and deployment of domestic and international service organizations.

Over her 12-year career at ADP, Dianne has held several leadership roles of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Strategic Workforce Planning, Vice President of Client Migration Services, Vice President of Enablement, Client Relations Executive and Senior Director of GlobalView Client Service.

Shane Nelson: Why are diversity and inclusion important to you, professionally and personally?

Dianne Green: Diversity and inclusion are both very important to me because, from a professional standpoint, diverse backgrounds and experiences really lead to diverse thought and decision-making practices. If all of us have the same experiences in life, in general, and we follow the same path in terms of our decision making practices, then you’re going to end up with a lot of the same like minds and a lot of the same decisions. In today’s environment, where we have such a fast paced moving market, you need people to be able to have differences of opinions to reach the best solutions, the one most suitable for what you’re trying to achieve. From a professional standpoint, you need to have people with diverse backgrounds and experiences in order to be innovative and bring innovation and future development and creativity into the marketplace and work environment.

From a personal standpoint, I have a lot of friends who look like me. My family, generally, they all look like me. But how wonderful is it to have people who have different backgrounds, different ethnicities and different experiences that we can all learn from and share? And that helps us to develop on a personal level. So, for me, diversity and inclusion span not just the workplace, but also outside of the workplace where we’re having day-to-day interactions with each other.

Shane Nelson: When I first heard you speak at an EY event at Carnegie Hall, you told your story about dealing with microaggressions earlier in your career and having to overcome them. Can you tell us that story and give advice on how to successfully deal with people that want to derail you?

Dianne Green: Absolutely. I think this is something that probably comes up in just about everyone’s career, at some point. And, you know, some of the actions, some of the microaggressions, are more egregious than others. When I think about microaggressions, I always like to define it for people because not everyone knows the term. Microaggressions are those things people will do to nitpick you, sometimes small, or sometimes big, to get you off your path or, as you said, to derail you, distract you, make things difficult for you and to make your environment uncomfortable. It doesn’t come from a good place. It’s not a positive thing; it’s generally wrought with a lot of negativity, and it can sometimes have some malicious intent.

So I’ll share my story about what I consider the most egregious form of microaggressions that I’ve experienced in my entire career. The caveat is this was my approach to this particular one. My approach is not the silver bullet answer nor will it work for every situation, but I’m happy to share what worked for me.

I joined a team of nine white male leaders several years ago in my career. These leaders were all long tenured with deep-rooted relationships. Their wives knew each other, their kids knew each other; they had worked so long together that work life and home life merged to some extent. They had cookouts at each other’s homes in the summertime — and so, you get the picture.

When I accepted the role, I knew that I had equal, or higher, credentials than most of them on that team. What I didn’t know was that they had never worked with someone who looked like me or who had a strong and reputable career coming in. When I tell you their behavior was disturbing…they would mimic my accent when I spoke. I was born in Guyana, raised in Jamaica, and I’m very proud of my heritage. These men would mimic my accent, they would turn their backs in the swivel chair when I spoke, discredit my data in senior presentations and really tried to make it uncomfortable for me.

But, because I knew, and this is one of the things about me that I’m very firm on, I knew that I was enough, I knew that I belonged at that table, just as much as they did. I knew that I also made a very conscious decision to join the company. I also knew, because of those things, that it would never be my responsibility to help them sort through that behavior or their feelings toward me. These men did everything that they could to try to bring me down, to make it uncomfortable, and to make it unsettling for me to lead alongside them.

My response was to turn my focus away from the emotions of the situation and the professional immaturity and poor behavior and, instead, focus on the business goals at hand. I focused on crushing those goals, and I crushed them. I moved on to the next set of goals, crushed those and kept moving. Eventually, they realized that while they’d been distracted and caught up in their “feelings,” I was out there blazing through and making a name for myself and getting a lot of attention. They eventually got their act together and changed. However, I got the strength to blaze through by focusing my attention where it mattered most to me and to the organization.

Now, you know, some people may say, “Well, she just ignored the situation and didn’t address it directly,” and I’d argue that I addressed it very appropriately by making an impact where it mattered most and taking the high road. In other instances, you have to face micro aggression head on and say, “You know what, I see you and I see what you’re doing, let’s have a chat.” And sometimes, calling it out directly also lets them know how their actions are being received.

Shane Nelson: That was awesome. I love how you crushed those goals, crushed some more goals and kept it moving. Brilliant!

Next question. What advice would you give to high potential women, specifically women of color, in advancing their careers?

Dianne Green: I have four things that I think are tried and tested. I have personally tried and tested them myself and so I feel very confident that these are four good ones to at least get started with.

1. Be strategic about your brand. Build it early. I tell our new hires here in Norfolk — you start building your brand on day one, on your first day of hire. So build it early and do good work and be consistent in the delivery of that good work, and never be afraid to recheck, recalibrate and adjust as you advance. Because, in order to remain relevant in our fast changing work environment, to remain relevant with all of these generations, from baby boomers to millennials in the workplace right now, you have to recheck and you have to recalibrate. You have to be very strategic about your brand.

2. Find several mentors. You don’t need to have only one. Sometimes one person can’t be all encompassing and do everything for you in terms of a mentor/mentee relationship. I have two mentors at work: I have a spiritual mentor, and I have a family life mentor. Find people who can support you in a network or provide a supportive network for you. You should also be a mentor to at least one person. It is important, as high potential women of color who are advancing in our careers, that you must always look back. Give a helping hand to someone else. Help another woman or help another person build their career and allow them to learn from you. When you do that willingly, expecting nothing in return, the universe will always reward you in good form.

3. Build solid and lasting relationships inside and outside of your company. Career advancement comes in many different forms and having good relationships is a really great start. Be mindful of the relationships that you’re building.

4. Stay polished. Consider nonverbal cues that you project and consider the image that you want to leave with people, as you go through your day, as you go through your career. Make sure that your image is in alignment with that of your employer. What do I mean by that? I mean don’t show up for work looking like you’re going to or coming from the club. Unless, you know, you actually work at the club. Keep it polished and remember those nonverbal cues as you continue to progress.

Shane Nelson: You recently received a promotion where you were tapped to head up ADP’s new facility in Norfolk, Va. You had to relocate from New Jersey to Virginia. What advice would you give folks who are asked to relocate for work?

Dianne Green: This is a really good question, very near and dear to my heart. I’ve been living in Norfolk now for a whole month and the experience has been exciting. It has also been stressful. It has been a whole bunch of emotions all in one. The first thing I would say is do the examination of the relocation opportunity. Look at it for fit, your own personal fit, your career fit, where you want to go strategically in your career. Look at it in terms of runway — is this an opportunity that has some runway that may possibly set you up for something else? Is it an advancement or not? Is it a lateral move? I think you have to take a good examination of what relocating into the particular opportunity means to you on a personal level.

The next thing that I would say is look at what it means to your family, your closest loved ones, your friends, your support system, your network. If you have to uproot young children (I didn’t, but I had other considerations), what does that mean to those people close to you? I’m leaving family in New Jersey, I’m leaving a solid network and support system of friends and church members and previous employers and coworkers in New Jersey. What does that mean? What kind of disruption does that provide and what are the risks in taking that move?

You also have to examine the relocation package, meaning if you are getting some sort of support from your organization in this move, know and understand all the intricacies of that package. Know your dollars, know your taxes, know everything that you need to understand from a financial standpoint in terms of what this will mean to your finances.

So those are the three things:

1. The opportunity itself in terms of your fit, runway, advancement, promotability, or not.

2. The opportunity in terms of impact, disruption, and risk to your network, your family, friends and your support system.

3. The opportunity in terms of knowing your money. Understand what’s involved. Understand where you’re moving to, are there some inherent benefits maybe in moving from a high tax state to a lower tax state? What are the changes? Differences?

You don’t want to move and be completely surprised. Then, you marry all those things into your decision making to come up with the final outcome. For me, it’s been an amazing opportunity. It’s been the right opportunity, the timing was right, and so it all came together very, very well and so I am extremely happy to be in Norfolk. We’re practically starting a new life. We’re in a place where we really don’t know many people and so it’s like a fresh start at life. I’m very happy with it.

How to Ask For and Leverage Feedback

EY’s Diana Cruz Solash gives advice on how to ask for feedback in away that does not give you a generic response that isn’t helpful.

previously posted on May 23, 2017

EY's Diana Cruz Solash gives advice on how to ask for feedback in away that does not give you a generic response that isn't helpful.

About Diana Cruz Solash:

Diana Solash joined EY in 1994 and is currently a Director in the organization's Global and Americas Diversity & Inclusiveness team and serves as the Americas Ethnicity Strategy Leader. In this capacity, Diana works closely with senior leaders, EY member firm partners and all EY people so that EY values are reflected across the organization.

She helps member firms leverage the diversity that each person brings to the organization — e.g., generations, cultural background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, experiences, and education. Diana has worked in several Talent team functions in building her career at EY, including campus recruiting, experienced recruiting and organizational development. She also co-chaired the Northeast Inclusiveness & Diversity Council and served as the Northeast Community Engagement Champion for Ernst & Young LLP.

Diana has been involved with several community organizations. Currently, she serves as a board member and a past President of the Metro NY Chapter of Ascend, a professional society for Asians in business, a member of the Committee for Economic Development's Women's Economic Contribution Subcommittee, as well as a member of the New York Women's Foundation Corporate Leadership Committee.

Previously, she served as a member of Jumpstart's Advisory Board and she is a past member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' Minority Initiatives Committee. Diana also completed the Coro Leadership New York Program in 2009.

Diana graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Economics and Psychology. She lives in downtown Manhattan with her son, Max, and daughter, Mia.

How to Attract and Hire Diverse Executives

Abbott and Wells Fargo discuss core strategies on attracting and hiring diverse executives, from leveraging brand and culture to sourcing to leadership accountability.

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Abbott and Wells Fargo discuss core strategies on attracting and hiring diverse executives, from leveraging brand and culture to sourcing to leadership accountability. Topics covered include:

• Building and promoting a brand that is relevant to diverse executives

• Holding leaders accountable for results, monthly reporting with hiring metrics

• Training leaders involved in hiring for executive-level roles to better assess multi-cultural candidates

• Candidate development teams for internal candidates

• Developing programs that support diversity and leadership growth

Audio: Getting White Men Engaged With D&I

General Motors’ Global CDO Ken Barrett advises on how to get white men engaged with diversity and inclusion.

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General Motors' Global CDO Ken Barrett advises on how to get white men engaged with diversity and inclusion. He advises white men to not try to tackle all the issues at once. Rather, they should start small, with things such as attending a resource-group meeting or doing something in the community that is important to them.

DiversityInc Gender Parity Analysis

DiversityInc’s analysis on gender parity found that utilization of three critical best practices leads companies to gender parity quicker than non-utilization.

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DiversityInc conducted analysis to measure how utilization of best practices such as executive diversity councils, mentoring and sponsorship impact progress towards gender parity in senior management. It found that these best practices were critical to making progress in gender parity in senior management.

To download a PDF version click the image below.

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