Three strategies that made a Wyndham legal chief a diversity leader.
Paul Cash, general counsel of Wyndham Destination Network (WDN), had an opportunity to try a new approach when it came time to hire for and define a new role.
The existing team at the WDN — a unit of Wyndham Worldwide (No. 27 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity) — was diverse in many aspects but, Cash recalled, more work could be done.
“The goal is to hire the best possible candidate for the job, but we also need to consider diversity of thought,” said Cash, who oversees a team of 40 lawyers around the world and decided to make diversity an active component of the recruiting process at WDN.
“While we were diverse in many dimensions, we said to ourselves, ‘We can do better. Let’s make diversity an active component of the recruiting process,’” he explained.
To do that he initiated a three-pronged approach:
- Résumé Review Revamp. A new process to review résumés was instituted and involved the whole legal team, including Cash, screening every single résumé that came in. “We wanted to make sure that we were all aligned in how we were looking at the résumés and not sort of rigidly discarding a résumé because the person didn’t go to the right law school,” he explained. “We wanted to look for diversity of thought and candidates that more holistically represented good additions to the team.”
- Enlist Diverse Interviewers. It was important to have the right interviewers as well. “We all interview differently,” Cash noted. “We all have a different approach. We thought if we have a diverse group of interviewers that we’ll look at the candidates all differently, we’ll get the best picture and that will produce the best balanced slate of candidates at the end of the day. We’ll also hopefully eliminate, or at least minimize, unconscious bias — the tendency to hire yourself.”
- Diverse Job Sites. Cash decided to look beyond just the typical legal job boards to post the role and found non-traditional places, such as the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s job site.
The approach was successful and Cash now leads not only a diverse team, but a team composed of the best people in their roles.
Cash is passionate about diversity and inclusion, in large part due to his personal connection. “I met my amazing wife, who’s Colombian American, in Germany, of all places, and I’ve heard her stories of when she was a kid, the discrimination that she and her family faced, and that’s certainly given me a new lens through which I can look at diversity.”
He also has two children, each with unique medical needs, including a 17-year-old son with autism. “When I think of my kids — and really all of our kids — my dream is for them to find a workplace, an employer, that will truly accept them, embrace them, develop, advance them, really give them fair opportunity,” he said.
Indeed, his passion for diversity has made an impact on Wyndham. Today, he is described by his colleagues as a dedicated diversity leader because his approach to recruiting and identifying top talent has created a legal department that is one of the most diverse functions within the company, according to Wyndham Worldwide Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Lee.
“When you look at hiring today the workplace is evolving so quickly,” Cash said. “The diversity segment of the workforce is growing; it’s perhaps the fastest growing segment.”