Management accountability is a best-practices concept that often disconnects at implementation. Diversity and Inclusion research proves that management is a key component to the success of workforce diversity programs, yet holding managers accountable is challenging. Motivating the behavior needed is much more complex than it appears on the surface. Techniques to ensure management accountability for most areas are not effective when applied to diversity. Further, when applied in isolation, some can produce counterproductive results.
Some common, misguided, accountability techniques include:
• CEO mandates - When CEO mandates are applied to the recruitment of women and diverse employees, they are often overlooked or forgotten. The reality of business today is that the priorities of top management are not synonymous with those of middle managers who directly oversee the majority of the staff. Today’s middle managers are over-worked and under-resourced. Should they receive approval for an additional resource, that hire will be made as quickly as possible from a reliable source used in the past. The result is usually a candidate hired in the manager’s self image.
• Performance Reviews - Diversity and Inclusion is commonly listed as a performance review objective. However, without performance measures, the objective is unproductive because expectations are unclear. The objective can raise questions regarding the credentials of women or diverse new hires and undermines the credibility of the diversity program overall.
• Setting of Numeric Diversity Targets – Simply setting “aspirational” diversity workforce goals is not effective. They can introduce legal risk if they are not acted upon. They can result in backlash from current employees if perceived as quotas or reverse discrimination. All top talent conducts due diligence on potential employers; diverse top talent will not accept positions as “tokens”. This applies to goals to reduce or overcome the under-utilization of women and minorities in poorly conceived Affirmative Action plans required for Federal Contractors and otherwise.
A more effective mechanism to ensure management accountability is to mandate the consideration of a “diverse slate” of candidates. Managers are held accountable for interviewing candidates reflective of the local workforce, and hiring the best candidate interviewed. While this may present some changes in administrative process, they are perceived as small changes. Perception is critical to this concept, because generally, people are uncomfortable with change. This approach is particularly effective, however, because what is perceived as a minor change is actually a significant shift in behavior.
In conclusion, management must be held accountable for a diverse slate of candidates. Elegantly executed, this can be the foundational cornerstone of a shift in corporate culture toward a more inclusive workplace and the associated positive business outcomes.
Strategic Diversity Solutions: Management Accoutability
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