I’ve been asked to be a guest on World at One on Monday on Radio 4. It’s not guaranteed of course, there might be something more important than recruiting on Monday, but all being well I’m going to be talking about diversity. Not in the traditional or legal sense, but in terms of hiring people who are just different, and why this is important, as well as changing recruitment thinking to make sure that you are not hiring the same people because you only source from the same place.
My thinking is that the world in general is for the most part, in a bit of a mess. We are trying to fix a whole host of problems with the same type of people who made them. In politics, if there was an election tomorrow I really wouldn’t know who to vote for because they really do all appear to be the same whatever the badge they might be wearing. Business has been mostly doing much the same thing. Hiring a “type”. Promoting a “type”. Rewarding conformity over different, creative thinking, and that all begins with hiring.
One of the things I’ve noticed about on-line communities and networks, is how many people build their networks around people like them, who come from the same places, like the same things and do the same job. I can understand the reassurance of only really hanging out with people who all agree and pat each other. Comfort in being the same and thinking the same, and being as one. The problem with this is that there is no new thinking. No challenge to the status quo because that’s not “how we do things around here.” Theres no new learning or thinking because people like you tend to think like you and know what you know. It becomes an old boys network. A mutual love in. Something i would describe as a cliquemunity where your face fits or you don’t fit.
I went to #CIETT2012 this week, organised by the REC. Kevin Green and the team did a brilliant job of putting on a conference that was a break from the usual offering with 2 hours of unconference and some of different people running tracks rather than presentations. When I look at the REC now, I think Kevin has done a brilliant job of changing their outlook for the benefit of their members. I know that this hasn’t always been popular or easy, and when he was first appointed there was plenty of consternation that the REC had opted for someone from the HR world rather than recruiting, but for me, it’s a decision that has paid dividends in changing the way things are done at the only real trade body for recruiters. They are no longer a private members club, and that is what businesses need to become. They need to be different, but not too many are getting the message.
Diversity of talent is an issue that is organisation wide. You are not going to fix the new business problems with the same people who caused them, and radical times need radical solutions that begins with a mind-set to accept the difference and try something new. The Footsie 100 and Fortune 500 companies largely control the economy and influence the way nations think and act. If we take recruiting back to the entry-level, they are still hiring from the same Universities for interns and new hires. The same type of people who studied the same subjects and got the same marks. Might be new people, but its new people in the same mould. The on-boarding process is geared to get new people to conform. To be like we were if you want to get on. You have to look the same, think the same and talk the same if you want to fit in and get on. You won’t fix the problems with the same thinking that created the problem in the first place, and you won’t get new thinking when you hire a series of clones.
I’m reminded of a quote I heard a while ago: “If we all think the same, some of us are irrelevant. ” If we look at the approach taken by the highly successful tech companies that have emerged and flourished over the last decade, their approach echoes this. I’m seeing trends emerging like flexible working, managing work rather than hours, interviewing for culture fit rather than fit to a specific job and other similar initiatives. It’s well documented that Google work to the philosophy of fail often, fail quickly, fail cheaply. Facebook live by the mantra of move fast and break things. LinkedIn believes that the platform is always in beta. It took different types of people to build these businesses. Different types of people who didn’t fit the usual mold.
On the radio show I’m going to talk about 3 things that I think would change the way companies recruit. It means turning the recruitment process on its head and looking at fit before capability, and intentionally targeting people who are different to the people you have now.
1: Sourcing from different places in particular universities.
2: Matching to culture.
3: Auditioning for work over interviewing.
I really enjoyed #CIETT2012. I got a real sense that there is an acknowledgment that things need to change, and they are not really working as they are. It’s time to think different and stop doing what we’ve always done in the attraction and recruitment process. Go hire some crazy ones.