Diversity “Quotas”

A recent post by Stuart on his site 1.00 FTE examined quotas for women – while he was referencing women representation on boards, diversity “quotas” or goals still exist in our corporate landscape. When first introduced, quotas/goals were necessary – the corporate landscape largely existed of white men, particularly in leadership roles. In today’s work environment, all walks of life are accepted (in most cases) in the workforce, but in certain historically male industries, diversity in race, gender and experience is still lower than what would be represented in the company‘s local market – this is definitely not a good thing.

But how far should company’s go to ensure diversity, even if it sometimes results in reverse discrimination? I am aware of several large companies who have internal diversity hiring goals, particularly in leadership positions, which help ensure that leaders are looking at ALL qualified candidates. But I have also unfortunately seen managers not being able to hire the most qualified candidate because that person did not meet a specific gender or race demographic that the larger organization needed, to hit an arbitrary goal.

What about the department that is currently all females and actually NEED male employees to make it diverse, but they are unable to hire males because the company as a whole is missing the target? In my opinion and experience, diversity in employees, culture, thinking, and experience is critical for the success of any organization. However, I think if we are going to continue with “diversity targets” or “leadership impact goals,” we must change the way we look at them. For example, if we actually looked at each department and had goals associated with the group as a whole – we could easily “target” or “attract” the correct “diverse” candidate for the role, even if that candidate falls into the definition of a non-diverse person (such as a “white male”). That way, we can be sure that the local community is accurately represented within the existing organization, versus only looking at incoming employees across a wider block of an organization. It would also save a lot of time and effort for hiring managers and talent acquisition, if we all agreed that the goal is for ALL qualified candidates be considered EQUALLY for a role, regardless of their race, gender, creed, quirks,or  number of cats at home.