Strategies and Tactics for Supporting Diversity in Hiring
What is performative diversity? Performative diversity is when an organization advocates and affirms a commitment to DEI but takes no practical actions towards achieving it.
Moving past affirmations and into action requires thoughtful, proactive, and concrete steps to foster a workplace that genuinely values a broadly diverse workforce. One of the most critical processes to examine and improve is your hiring practices, policies, and approach. The way your organization approaches hiring the Executive Director sets the tone for DEI in the rest of the organization. It also sends a message about how serious your Board is about equity.
As you begin to navigate your upcoming leadership transition, here is a list of some practices your organization can adopt that builds towards a more equitable, transparent, and human-centric hiring process.
Who are you? How do you interact with the world? When are you at your best as part of a team?
These seemingly simple questions are actually landmines for many, perhaps most, of us when we think about our participation in life, and more specifically the workplace. Employers are not unique in raising the issues of diversity regarding the people we interact with, equity in how people are valued and supported, and meaningful inclusion of people who come from different lived experiences. We pick our friends, and sometimes enemies, based on some of these factors. We create communities where we feel at least the first two of those factors because we can relax in those communities and just be ourselves.
Add in the context of a “DEI Filter” in the hiring process and the nuance underlying those questions can sometimes be completely skipped over because the interviewer thinks they know who you are, how you will interact with the world, and what you will bring to the team based on how you look or their first impression of you and your experience as represented on a resume.
I regularly see discussions around DEI committee membership that openly refer to someone “representing the African American community,” or the “BIPOC community.” I wonder how those people feel about that tokenism. (Because, let’s be clear, if that is how their selection was approached, then they are literally serving as tokens to represent those communities.) How can one person be expected to represent the entirety of the richness, diversity, and lived experience of the African American community? Or any community for that matter?
As we approach the national holiday that celebrates the life and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it seems appropriate to revisit the reason we NEED a National Holiday to reflect on his legacy, and what we, as nonprofit leaders can and should DO with such a holiday.
I’m standing in the cafeteria holding a tray of food.
It’s 1979 and I am a freshman in High School. I look around to see a room divided. The black people are sitting on one side, the white people on the other, the Filipinos, the Mexicans in the middle–and I ask myself the question, “where do I belong?” Little did I know this question would permeate the entire rest of my life.
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