Creating a talent pipeline that doesn’t look like the one you already have

For many companies fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion are considered an extra, something you do on top of the business model you already have.

In others, it’s a competitive point, one that opens the door (and tries to keep it open) for talented folks in customer service, engineering, marketing, design, operations, and more. 

In a very small number of companies / organizations, it is a core part of their DNA from the start, doing the work it takes to not only recruit and keep a wide range of talent, but also put ownership, responsibility, and impact into those hands. 

If you’re not in that last group, but you want to be, you may be asking yourself “where can I get 100% amazing talent that is also diverse and inclusive?”

Having worked on it as a hiring manager myself over the years as well as closely observing others, my experience is that there are two ways to do it. Great companies do both. 

  1. Spend the time doing outreach to specific people and find amazing talent, this takes time and an HR person, hiring manager, and / or recruiter who understands the value of having more voices on their team. 

  2. Cast a wider net, sift through it, find the people other hiring managers and companies won’t bet on. Grow them, pay them, give them responsibility, ownership, power to hire their own skill set and teams. Actively discuss, break down, and address inequities, whether internal or simply ones folks are subject to because of their identity, culture etc. in the process making your own internal culture better, iterative, flexible and open to change.  

Part of the answer to “where can I find amazing talent” in 2019 is that the best, most talented folks are on Twitter, in Facebook + Slack groups, etc. and not looking at job postings on LinkedIn or as their first referral to a potential opportunity. 

Equally as important, and suggested by #2 above, is that sourcing is not going to fix much. If you want 100% A-Players that actually stick around your office and team culture has to be on point. You can’t tolerate supposed 10x impact employees who actually break down team culture over time. You also have to consistently think about the gap between what you say and what you do as a company, because a strong hiring pipeline is built, not accessed on-demand.

It’s not 1:1 but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was close, in terms of every percentage point of how crappy a workplace experience is vs. the quality of the candidate. Especially in competitive fields like design, development, engineering, and marketing where the opportunities are growing at such a rapid rate that you have to be extremely competitive just to get people in the first place. 

If you’re a 100% A-player in almost any industry or discipline in 2019, it’s much easier to find a job than it used to be via your network. Those people don’t find jobs, jobs find them.