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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 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 Business.com : Startup Guide to Hiring a Consulting CTO

While many successful companies are launched by individuals without a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a CTO and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company’s growth.

Building the right team at the right time and stage in a company’s growth can make or break its success and ability to scale, especially for a startup.

While many successful companies are launched without a co-founder with a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a chief technology officer (CTO) and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company’s growth.

Why (and when) to hire a consulting CTO

Consulting CTOs can provide the technical expertise and management experience to custom software development companies that help early-stage startups meet their strategic goals. So when might it make sense to bring on a consulting CTO?

Some of the factors to consider in your decision and hiring timeline include:

  • You are an early stage startup working with an outsourced or bootstrapped software development team
  • Your company does not have a technical co-founder or member of the management team
  • Prohibitive costs involved with recruiting full time or long term CTO
  • Finding technical and engineering talent with the right leadership skills and background to meet your goals
  • Your company does not need a full-time CTO at your current stage of growth
  • Your startup is facing a product launch, and you need to quickly bring on an experienced technical and engineering professional with the right management and leadership skills
  • Your startup is launching a product or spearheading a project that requires a unique skillset or type of experience that your current management and development team is lacking or has limited experience or knowledge of the technology and market
  • For general oversight capabilities and technical due diligence
  • As a short-term resource in the early or mid stages of your startup’s growth while you look for the right long-term candidate if you later decide that it makes sense to fill the position permanently

The “right” time to bring in new leadership will vary from company to company. Addressing your engineering team’s current pain points against the organization’s needs and plans to scale in the short and long term are a great place to start in determining when to hire outside talent.

A consulting CTO can provide the flexibility and expertise necessary to succeed in an early stage startup environment.

Qualities to look for in a CTO

In addition to flexibility, technical expertise and management experience, and relevant knowledge in your field, there are a few qualities to look for in a great CTO candidate:

  • Stellar engineering background
  • The right experience for your company’s product line and vision for growth
  • A robust professional network to leverage
  • Good communication skills
  • Relevant leadership skills
  • A strategic thinker
  • The right set of tools

As most founders and investors know, things seldom go according to plan in the startup world, especially where technology is concerned. Whether you have a small team operating on the lean startup model or are growing at a rapid pace and already have several talented engineers on your team, things can (and probably will) change at a moment’s notice.

It may be difficult for you to predict when your startup will benefit from hiring a technology manager or CTO, and in many cases the answer to the question “When should we bring on a CTO?” is “yesterday.” A consulting CTO can join your team quickly and is trained to work and solve problems in a startup environment.

Via Forbes : It’s Time To Commit To Hiring Employees Over The Age Of 45

There are so many articles and discussions currently trending on diversity and inclusion. While I am a strong advocate for every initiative that welcomes and includes people of diverse backgrounds, educations and points of view at the table, I also believe that employers can take this approach to the next level.

Candidates 45 and older have priceless knowledge, experience and expertise that, if utilized correctly, is the secret sauce worthy of investing in. When it comes to diversity efforts, we are not focusing enough on the value older workers bring to the workforce. Ageism continues to be the albatross of qualified candidates that is a real and present factor contributing to older workers being boxed out. Yes, there have been some improvements in the unemployment rate, but not enough when millions of older workers are still looking for work.

I read an article recently by Dr. Anselm Anyoha in which he wrote candidly about getting older. He noted that as people age, it seems that society begins to “conspire to get rid of them” in order to make room for the upcoming generations.

It’s a solid point, considering that exclusionary norms and tactics support the notion that younger is better, a homogeneous workforce is “right,” and diversity doesn’t matter. As long as these norms continue, we all lose, as it becomes us versus them.

The older population has an uncanny, ambitious drive and profound determination, but unfortunately, it often goes untapped. Many older workers are still vibrant and capable candidates wanting to return to their industry and/or careers. However, current trends in hiring practices do not support or recognize this tangible asset. According to a New York Times article by Quoctrung Bui, “older workers are finding employment in lower-skilled service jobs. They are 65% more likely to find work in child care, 93% more likely to work as cab drivers and twice as likely to find work in retail.”

I recently had the pleasure of working with a 70-year-old attorney, and I was blown away by how sharp he was. His wisdom and experience were priceless. Had I worked with a younger attorney, I would have gotten the same tangible advice, but I would have missed out on valuable knowledge and expertise.

Having a diverse and inclusive workforce proves optimal to operating success. This great nation is a melting pot overflowing with phenomenal talents across all ages and ethnicities. I believe that we, the people, can make concerted efforts toward real change in which we recognize, celebrate, collaborate and support each other’s contributions to the continuously shifting employment landscape.

Making real change requires collective efforts from employers, employees and participation from state and local government. To lead the change in the inclusion of older workers, employers can create a culture that is blind to ageism, capitalizing on the talents of older workers through an age-friendly work environment that utilizes workforce development strategies easily incorporated into hiring practices. This would result in fostering a multigenerational workplace where capitalizing on innovations in talent management leads to creative solutions to pressing business problems.

Older workers possess unique qualifiers in addition to their experience that makes them strong candidates who are very much so teachable. Create opportunities that forge mentor-mentee relationships. Cross-train to increase retention and ensure that skills and knowledge stay within the company. Allow greater ownership and control over work-life balance tactics, such as telecommuting, job sharing and shift-swapping.

Around the world, cultures respect, appreciate and glean from the wisdom possessed by older generations. It almost seems as if our society is putting workers 45 years of age and older out to pasture, viewing them as not valuable. I say shame on us for turning our noses up at this wealth of top talent. Diversity and inclusion is about all people getting an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths, gifts and talents. Everyone deserves a chance, and older job seekers must be included.

As employers embark on new budget and growth opportunities during the second half of 2018, the challenge still remains — can you commit to hiring employees over the age of 45? I welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions you might have.