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Via Small BusinessThe Value of Diversity in the Workplace

The United States is a diverse country. Companies lucky enough to have a workforce as diverse as the population find themselves armed with many perspectives, views and ideas that add strength to their ability to strategize, communicate and deliver. While diversity can also have its challenges in the workplace, it provides an opportunity for employees to reach out and discover the amazing commonalities beneath the surface differences. Any challenges that do arise can be worked through, provided the organization to open to new ideas and actually following through with the ideas and suggestions brought to them from their diverse workforce.

Market Segments and Diversity

Businesses sell to an increasingly diverse customer base in a multicultural society. Having employees who come from different demographics and market sectors can only further a company’s understanding of its customer base. This may help tailor approaches to sales, services and even product development. For a business to survive, let alone thrive, it has to understand its customers and know how to present the products and services they need. Valuing diversity when creating a team can help a business achieve this objective.

Linguistic Skills and Communication

People from different backgrounds bring different languages with them. This can be a huge asset for communicating with customers and vendors–particularly for businesses situated in ethnic communities or selling to various ethnic markets. In an increasingly global market, companies with overseas operations, partners and vendors may also benefit greatly from having a multilingual staff. Communication is also key when it comes to understanding cultural differences. Having someone within your organization who can explain the subtle differences in how cultures view things can be the difference between launching a great campaign and blowing a great opportunity.

Diversity Facts and Ideas

Smart companies encourage employees to come forward with ideas. Creativity and idea generation are among the most valuable assets to a growing company that wants to be innovative and take the lead in a market. Employees of different backgrounds may have ideas about how to improve a product, service or marketing approach to better capture the demographic or market segment from which they come. Getting feedback and advice from all people from all walks of life results in a stronger, more appealing product or service. And since a business exists to fill a niche, finding as many niches among the different cultures in society only helps fulfill that mission.

Economic Diversity Examples

Knowing how to change a process or approach to meet different needs can be what sets an organization apart. Staff from different backgrounds may better understand the needs of a particular community or market. For example, many city hospitals benefit from having Latino and Asian staffs who can not only speak to elderly patients with similar backgrounds but who understand their needs. They may understand a particular culture’s need to have a same-sex nurse or assistant when getting help in the restroom. And this can be the what gets one hospital more business than another.

Talent is Diverse

Talent comes in many packages. People of all backgrounds, colors, ages, shapes and sizes have important skills. Being open-minded may be the difference between hiring good and hiring the best. Great talent can be found worldwide, so being open to the endless possibilities of a global workforce is just good business sense. Some companies sponsor immigration for software engineers and information technology specialists when these skills are in short supply domestically. These workers also provide the added benefit of making the workforce more diverse and more appealing to customers all over the world.

Via Forbes : What Do Millennials Want From An Employer, And Should You Offer It?

As the year draws to a close, many of us naturally find our thoughts veering into “year in review” territory. Did my business accomplish its goals this year? How many personal milestones did I reach? And where can we improve in the new year?

In 2019, many business leaders are sure to be focused on courting fresh talent. Whether you’re looking to expand your current roster or replace outgoing employees, you’re likely jumping into a prospect pool that’s full of millennials (with Generation Z poised on the diving board).

There was a time, not so long ago, when it seemed like a foosball table and in-house massage therapists were the tools you needed to entice younger workers. But those workers have matured and so, too, has their list of desired workplace traits and perks. In fact, the results of the 2018 Deloitte millennial survey suggest that the superficiality assigned to that generation is all but gone.

While it’s true that the top item on the millennial wish list is financial rewards or benefits, the study’s authors say that’s tied to the more important, overarching desire to work for employers who are “proactive about making a positive impact in society” and “responsive to employees’ needs.”

Fewer than half (48%) of survey respondents believe that corporations behave ethically, and only 47% said that business leaders are “committed to helping improve society.” This demonstrates a clear and very wide gap between what millennials want and what they believe they’re getting, leaving a lot of room for thoughtful employers to step in and provide what’s missing. But here’s the catch: You have to actually stand for something.

That’s a scary notion to many of us who were trained in the “professionalism means keeping a healthy distance” way of doing business. Holding personal opinions of a political or social nature has always been one thing, but expressing them in the workplace was something altogether different. And broadcasting those opinions and beliefs to the public at large from a leadership position, well, let’s just say it was hardly even considered.

But in these uncertain times, younger workers are looking to business leaders to fill in where government officials have failed or come up short. A recent NPR story points to Nike CEO Mark Parker’s decision to feature former NFL quarterback (and current target of Donald Trump’s ire) Colin Kaepernick in its ads, and the bold move on the part of Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack to remove assault-style weapons from his stores and refused to sell guns to anyone under 21.

Of course, not everybody agreed with their respective choices, and their businesses are feeling the effects — both negative and positive. But that’s the risk you have to be willing to take when you wade into these new waters. Consumers or clients may disagree with your stance and walk away, yet employees and prospective employees may appreciate your efforts to be an agent of change, creating a more meaningful sense of loyalty among your team.

To my mind, it all hinges on authenticity. Parker and Stack took very public stands on social-political issues because they feel genuinely passionate about those issues and understand their power to make a difference. So what’s your stand? Is there a cause or issue that you care about and want to see brought to the fore? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to raise your flag. If it’s more of a, “Hmmm … not sure,” then the next step is to do your research. Speaking out about a topic or cause you know little about, or jumping on a bandwagon to make it look like you care is a huge mistake. People of any age (millennial or not) will see through the facade and any initial gains in public perception will not be sustainable. You’ve got to mean it.

I find it encouraging to learn that millennials are looking for employers who care about the world beyond their company’s bottom line. It’s a healthy reminder of where we all need to be looking. While the reality of profitability cannot be ignored, we all have a responsibility to those who work for us, and to our fellow citizens, to use business as a force for good.

Via Inc : 4 Reasons Every Entrepreneur Should Want to Hire as Many Immigrants as Possible

By hiring immigrants, Wattpad blazed its way to offering 400 million stories in more than 50 languages.

As part of my TV show The Naked Entrepreneur, I sat down with Allen Lau, founder of Toronto-based Wattpad, to discuss the strategies that brought his startup success. To date Wattpad has published 400 million stories across 50 languages, gained 65 million unique visitors monthly reading 22 billion minutes per month, and raked in more than $117 million in VC funding.

While our conversation ebbed and flowed for over an hour what really stood out to me was his commitment to immigration. Lau (who, it should be noted, has previously written for Inc.com) emphasized that Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with more than 50 percent of its residents being born outside of the country.

This unique feature, Lau claims, gave his startup a competitive edge. “I believe that Toronto’s diversity gives me an unfair advantage,” he wrote in a Globe and Mail op-ed in May. “True innovation is rooted in the ability to solve problems. Toronto’s diversity has helped me build a team that is insightful and mindful enough to tackle the challenges that arise when you build a global Internet company.”

Here are some stats from Wattpad’s 2018 diversity and inclusion survey:

  • 56 percent of Wattpad employees are women.
  • Women make up 50 percent of Wattpad’s leadership team.
  • Women make up 50 percent of Wattpad’s user experience and design team.
  • Women make up 100 percent of Wattpad’s product team.
  • People of color make up 45 percent of all Wattpad employees and 41 percent of its leadership team.

Lau and several other Canadian tech CEOs explained the importance of diversity to business in a 2017 open letter, following an American presidential executive order that restricted immigration into the U.S. A selection:

“Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders. In choosing to hire, train, and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world.”

As an immigrant himself, Lau believes it wrong to ostracize people based on their birthplace–and told me he thinks a lot about why more companies should hire immigrants. Here are his four top reasons:

You can fill talent shortages.

The U.S. is falling short on key highly skilled workers. The STEM industries in particular often lack the necessary home-grown talent that startups need to succeed. If you are having trouble finding qualified candidates in the U.S., there is literally a pool of billions to review if you look beyond the border.

The global workforce provides local knowledge.

Today, all businesses are global. Today anyone can sell to buyers anywhere in the world using the internet. But foreign buyers may require customized local knowledge in addition to local language. Lau expanded Wattpad into dozens of countries across Africa (a seemingly underserved market) by letting new employees from those countries be involved in the expansion.

You can get more for less.

Talent, like all assets, is subject to the pricing preasure of supply and demand. Because immigration talent is often overlooked, so demand falls short of supply, such talent can often be acquired for less than homegrown staff. In some cases, credentials of newcomers are not accepted in the U.S., leading to these folks being overqualified and having skills that exceed their peers.

New perspectives are crucial.

A business with an overly homogenous workforce will have limited creativity. Hiring immigrants brings people into your business who have different perspectives born from entirely different places. By mashing up different perspectives, innovation is born.

I’ve seen this play out in my own experience mentoring entrepreneurs and investing in startups. The best local entrepreneurs often don’t start local, which leads me to look for a mashup of cultural knowledge and fresh perspectives when trying to identify strong entrepreneurs.

Lau himself is an immigrant, and recently signed deals with major media players like Netflix, Hulu and NBC to turn Wattpad’s content into mainstream entertainment. In doing so, he’s proving that taking the contrarian approach and doubling down on immigration can be a long-term strategic investment.

Via Benefit News : Call today, work tomorrow: The future of hiring?

You just called a prospective candidate with a job offer, and they accepted. Pretty standard procedure — except you won’t meet the new hire until their first day of work.

In a hot job market, more workers are being hired without ever doing a formal face-to-face interview, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Hiring agencies and HR professionals are hearing more and more about hiring sight unseen, and the reviews are mixed. Agencies say it’s a fast and more efficient way to hire, while some HR professionals argue there’s no substitute for human interaction.

“We basically advertised jobs as call today, work tomorrow,” says Tim Gates, senior regional vice president of Adecco Staffing, which recently filled 15 openings without a formal in-person interview. “It makes it convenient for everybody involved.”

Adecco Staffing uses a digital hiring platform to prescreen candidates before setting up phone interviews. Applicants who ace the 20-minute phone conversation will likely be placed at a job site contracting Adecco. Gates says the practice gives his staffing agency a competitive edge by hiring people before they accept another position. He also believes this fast, straightforward approach is more attractive to job seekers seeking immediate employment.

Adecco hires sight unseen for entry level, manufacturing and specialized positions — like graphic design. They’re not alone. Susan Trettner, founder and director of direct hire placement firm Talent Direct 360, works with industries across the board but often hires workers for engineering, IT, HR, sales and marketing roles. Trettner says hiring without meeting a candidate is becoming more commonplace, especially for retail and e-commerce employers who have to hire large numbers of workers.

“Making a hiring determination over the phone is acceptable, and I think a lot of companies are doing that,” she says.

During the holidays, for example, retailers may not have the time to interview hundreds of candidates for a position, Trettner says. But, she adds, many companies that hire employees without meeting in person often have a “game plan” for onboarding that gets workers quickly up to speed on what they will be doing on the job. Making the hiring process more efficient is better for everyone, she says.

“It all comes down to filling the positions so they can remain productive,” she says.

Trettner says she would consider hiring workers without meeting them, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the employer client. If a client, for example, needs 300 new workers in a short period of time, Trettner says she would suggest they consider expediting the hiring process a bit to help save money and time.

“I open them up to anything I think is efficient,” she adds.

Some organizations would rather take extra time choosing candidates. Kathleen Sheridan, associate director of global staffing for Harvard Business Publishing, says she knows from 20 years of experience that phone interviews can’t tell you everything about a person. She once sat down with three candidates for a sales position; they all performed well during a phone interview, but completely fumbled while answering questions during a sit-down meeting. None of them were hired, Sheridan said.

“You can come across as a completely different person over the phone,” Sheridan says. “As cumbersome as interview process can be, the value of bringing people in and allowing them to see you is worth it.”

As someone who works with people on a daily basis, Sheridan says she would be distrustful of any job offer from someone she’s never met. She says higher level executives at Harvard Business Publishing will travel out of the country to meet with prospective hires.

“A decision to join a company is emotional as well as very practical. I think you need to give people a chance to check their emotional response and get a feel for the culture and vibe,” Sheridan says. “I would ask myself, ‘what is it about your organization that you would deny me the opportunity to meet the people who are in the headquarters of this company that I’m going to represent?’”

Peg Buchenroth, HR director of employment agency Addison Group, says most of her clients request in-person interviews for job placements in the IT, engineering, healthcare and finance accounting industries. She says it’s unlikely to change.

“It’s maybe more common in seasonal retail industry for the holiday season. For our types of positions, there’s no reason not to interview when we have the ability to do Skype interviews,” Buchenroth says.

Via Forbes : To Close The Gender Gap, Start With Internships

High learning agility, critical thinking skills and a strong work ethic are attributes I often hear cited by recruiters looking to hire their next intern class. But let’s ensure diversity and gender representation goals are a priority if you want to truly reflect today’s workforce.

Did you know employers are most interested in hiring entry-level employees who have had an average of three internships? They’re onto something. Since most intern candidates are looking for a job offer at its conclusion, an internship program targeting ambitious and diverse students can be an effective way to:

  • onboard young high-performers,
  • prime future talent pipelines, and
  • create an environment that is more reflective of the world in which we live in terms of age, gender, race, culture, and other aspects of diversity.

Not only do internship programs give employers access to a large pool of potential hires, they can also leverage current interns and alumna as brand ambassadors to support recruiting efforts and maintain a steady flow of new talent into the organization! But even as the acceptance rate for interns increased from last year, the offer and conversion rates both dropped, according to results of National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2018 Internship & Co-op Survey.

Testing out new talent

An internship is like an extended interview that truly tests a candidate’s skills and capabilities relevant to the job. Exposing talent to the internal culture also allows companies to determine over a significant period of time (i.e., a semester) whether the intern is a good long-term fit for the company. A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that employers reported almost 89% of their intern-to-new hire population remained after one year (73% percent after five years). And if at the end of the internship, you decide they are not a good fit, you can allow the relationship to run its natural course with no hard feelings.

Internships for diversity

As I alluded to above, a robust and inclusive internship program can be a gateway to increasing gender and other types of diversity within your organization. In particular, partnering with colleges and organizations that support female students and graduates is an important step for businesses in closing the gender gap in today’s workplace. This early exposure to the way business works helps set young women up for leadership positions down the line in a way that has not been historically available to them.

Businesses need to create a path to success for female employees at all levels. An internship program that targets and cultivates entry-level female employees can lay the groundwork for this success at your company. Here are my tips for creating an effective internship program for recruiting and retaining women.

(1) Actively seek out female candidates

Whether it is through partnering with organizations like Handshake and The Consortium who connect diverse students with employers, or Forte Foundation which has a community of over 100,000 women changing the ratio in business schools and entering global management careers. Whether your company is speaking at school event panels and in the classroom, setting up booths at internship fairs, or advertising the available positions in publications with a strong female student readership like Her Campus, it is important to get your program in front of the eyes of the potential interns you are aiming to hire.

(2) Invest in training

Training in the necessary skills to take on meaningful projects (read: not just fetching coffee and making copies) demonstrates a culture of excellence. For recruiting and retaining purposes, investing in training shows female interns they are valued and a part of the company. Irene DeNigris, VP of Talent at iCIMS, a technology company, feels very strongly about their investment in interns. She shared:

“Employers have a responsibility to help students be successful in their roles and to help them determine if [a company] is a cultural fit.” And more importantly, this emphasis sets the tone and standards for interns as they evaluate the development and onboarding experiences.

(3) Connect interns with other employees

Make it easy for your female interns to connect with former interns turned hires as well as other employees within the organization who have jobs they are interested in or are otherwise drawn to. This will give them greater insight into what it means to contribute and the types of career paths available to them.

Meaningful ways to connect with other employees (e.g., panels, mentor programs, and project collaborations) are particularly important to interns from under-represented groups who have less access to traditional networking avenues. Providing pathways to connection and nurturing growth early on opens the door to confidence and contribution.

The U.S. Soccer Organization launched the #SheBelieves Internship program to college students in areas with historically low female participation. As a #SheBelieves Champion, I led the curriculum and had the extraordinary opportunity to coach the inaugural class of female undergraduate students. One of the core components of the program was a mentorship program within each student’s host company that served in parallel to the educational content and in-person activities hosted by US. Soccer. A goal of the program was to build a strong community amongst the interns themselves to inspire them to invest in each other’s goals. The exposure to role models and peer mentors on and off the field is a proven strategy to elevate trust, engagement and confidence.

(4) Provide access to C-Level executives

Speaking of exposure, it is critical to provide female interns with access to key C-level executives on a regular basis through roundtables, leadership spotlights, and individual projects. Senior executives can provide a greater awareness of the business’s high-level strategies and help them build a broader understanding of what it takes to be successful. And the key for these sessions is accessibility and transparency. If your CEO stops by, she should share stories of challenges she faced along with the moments where she felt tremendous pride and excitement for the journey ahead.

Exposure to key executives is rare for female interns (and, frankly, female employees at many levels), so these opportunities allow them unique visibility into a realm that may seem opaque and unattainable. This is how you empower the next generation of diverse employees to reach new leadership heights.