With the increased focus on gender and racial equity over the last year, many corporations have made renewed commitments to building diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Research shows that more diverse workplaces perform better in several key areas: diverse teams produce 19% more revenue, diverse teams make better business decisions and diverse teams make better, faster decisions. This all shows that diversity is not just a value to strive for, but an integral part of the success of every company.
Recently, IQTalent Partners President and veteran human resources leader David Windley published a piece in Forbes that lays out four steps corporate recruiters should take when looking for diverse talent. These include:
- Improve candidate sourcing by investing in tools that source qualified candidates across all backgrounds, and going outside personal hiring networks.
- Dismantle bias in the recruiting process by discovering where biases exist within your own firm to assess where racial or gender discrepancies lie in recent hiring history.
- Create an objective assessment of candidates by having an impartial list of specific skills and/or competencies that candidates need to possess to be qualified for the role.
- Promote an inclusive employer brand by ensuring that employment branding materials reflect a diverse and inclusive culture.
Windley says that these four steps will help generate an inclusive list of candidates and is the “starting place for fulfilling the ultimate goal of a diverse and inclusive workplace.” Robert F. Smith has publicly shared ideas for retaining diverse talent, and believes in building a network of diverse candidates to increase representation in the private sector.
Robert F. Smith’s Involvement with Modern Initiative and internXL
In 2020, Vista Equity Partners was one of the first private equity firms to join Modern Initiative, an effort by Diligent that commits to reserving five board roles per company strictly for minority candidates. Smith is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners.
“We all have a stake in hiring a more diverse workforce and diversifying top leadership.” wrote Smith in an op-ed “Companies must diversify their boards and pension managers to demonstrate that they don’t merely want to spruce up their employee directories, but benefit from new perspectives at the very top.”
Smith also champions efforts to connect students of color with valuable paid internship opportunities, in order to create a larger network of diverse young professionals who have experience and networking opportunities in college that can lead to great careers. Via the Fund II Foundation, of which Smith is founding director and President, the internXL program matches highly qualified minority students with STEM-related corporations. Created in 2019, internXL was born out of Smith’s own internship experience at Bell Labs when he was a teenager. Today, companies including AT&T, Deloitte, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Vista Equity Partners participate in the program, and internXL has matched more than 12,000 college students with internships.
Learn more about the importance of diversity in the workplace, including the board room, with Smith’s discussion on board diversity for the 2020 virtual webinar series for the Thirty Percent Coalition, of which Vista Equity Partners is a member.