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Getting People in The Pool: Diversity Recruitment that Works.

By: Patricia Digh , RealWork
Source: Center Collection
This article was originally published in HR Magazine.
Published: November 2001
Learn why and how your association can recruit diverse staff. Included in the article is the business case for why your organization should look for diverse staff as well as information and tools you can implement immediately to meet that goal. This article will be especially useful for CEOs, department managers and association professionals engaged in human resources and staff recruitment.
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The business case has been made: workforce diversity will help your organization reach new markets and develop greater intellectual capital. Fortune magazine's "50 Best Companies for Asians, Blacks and Hispanics" continue to outperform the S&P 500. But to leverage diversity, you must first have it--at all levels.

Making It Real
It's one thing to acknowledge that diversity adds value to the business. It's another thing altogether to make it a reality. To tap into and retain a diverse pool of top talent, HR professionals must:

  • Understand demographic changes in the workforce.
  • Ensure that majority groups aren't marginalized in the process.
  • Educate staff that "diversity" is not synonymous with "minority," while at the same time try to increase access and opportunities for people of color and other minorities.
  • Build long-term relationships with minority organizations, not look for quick fixes.
  • Learn how to effectively interview diverse groups.
  • Make sure that they're not just "grafting" minorities onto the organization without making appropriate internal culture changes that will enable them to thrive.
  • Become the employer of choice for a diverse workforce.
  • Ensure retention by developing a diversity-friendly culture.
  • Foster a culturally sensitive work environment.
  • Network for strategic alliances to enable long-term diversity recruitment.
  • Measure the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts.

Barbara Stern, vice president of diversity at Brookline, Mass.-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, acknowledges that diversity recruitment is a balancing act. "Make sure people understand the business rationale for having a diverse workforce," she says, "otherwise diversity recruiting is misunderstood as preferences or affirmative action. Even though that business case is clear, we still have the challenge of making sure that white males and females don't feel excluded from the process, and that they don't feel they're going to lose."

It's also important for customers to see diversity throughout the organization. "Particularly in a service industry like ours," Stern says, "our customers look to see if there are people at all levels in the organization who look like them and who share their values and culture."

Marketing folks know diversity is big business. Current total spending by minority groups in the United States is approximately $500 billion annually, and it is expected to grow by 50 percent or more over the next three years. But Bob Baublitz, marketing manager for Bell Atlantic's ethnic and premium markets division in New York, knows it's not enough to market well. "Before we can sell to these customers," he says, "we have to hire them, promote them and retain them. Equality begins at home."

Case in point: Urban Miyares, a leader in the disability community who has multiple disabilities himself. He always stays at Marriott Hotels when he travels. It's not because the accommodations are better than other hotels, he says, "it's because Marriott hires people with disabilities."

As early as 1984, research by noted psychologist Charlan Nemeth showed that the mere presence of a minority viewpoint on a work team stimulated creativity among all the members by forcing reexamination of basic assumptions and by encouraging more open and frank dialogue. Similarly, a more recent survey by the American Management Association and the Business and Professional Women's Foundation in 1998 found that a mixture of genders, ethnic backgrounds and ages in senior management teams consistently correlated to superior performance.

Putting Theory into Action
To maximize the effectiveness of diversity at all levels of an organization, the diversity has to first exist. According to Simmons Associates, a New Hope, Pa.-based consulting firm specializing in organizational development and diversity services, there are key ways to help recruit diverse employees. Here are some methods you may want to try using at your organization:

  • Establish networks with minority colleges.
  • Offer corporate internships and scholarships.
  • Sponsor lob fairs in minority communities.
  • Develop partnerships with minority student professional organizations.
  • Develop partnerships with minority organizations, such as the National Black MBA Association.
  • Tap all known web sites where resumes of diverse individuals can be found, such as the Diversity Employment Exchange at www

"When we began our effort in 1993," Stern explains, "we really raised the bar and insisted on having a diverse candidate pool for all key management roles. We also insisted that our executive search firms look at the pools they were tapping into and make them more inclusive. It takes longer to produce a diverse pool, and many search firms weren't prepared, but we insist on it."

Some firms have figured out how to do it successfully. For instance, Dun & Bradstreet forged a relationship with the Chicago-based National Black MBA Association (NBMBA), a business association dedicated to enhancing the professional careers of African Americans. Dun & Bradstreet is a corporate sponsor of the NBMBA's national conference and career fair, and it supports the association's scholarship fund and outreach program, all of which help maintain D&B's presence in the African American community. The firm will participate in the National Society of Hispanic MBA's National Conference and Career Expo this year.

Even nonprofit organizations are stepping up their diversity recruiting: The American Library Association in Chicago has committed $1.3 million over the next three years to a new Spectrum Initiative aimed at increasing the number of minority librarians. The ALA also sponsors events such as the Hispanic Leadership in Libraries and Library Education Conference to reach out to minority communities.

Partnering with national associations is another way to approach the issue. One example is the National Diversity Newspaper Job Bank (, which emphasizes diversity. The site is a joint venture between the Florida Times-Union and the National Newspaper Association.

Taking a fresh approach to recruitment advertising also works. "Diversity: It's a Beautiful Thing," reads a recent print advertisement from MetLife. "We're Interested in Genius ... Not Genes," reads another from PitneyBowes Inc.

DaimlerChrysler's ad in U.S. Black Engineer magazine talks about "harmony," invoking the image of an orchestra's instruments: "A workplace that works creates an almost audible hum, a buzz that means people are inspired, confident and passionate about what they do," the ad reads. "At DaimlerChrysler we bring together all kinds of people with their richly varied origins, perspectives and life experiences. And then they perform, drawing on their diversity to enrich and enhance the finished products. Together, they create the harmony of our workplace."

Steps to Take Now
If you are anxious to get started on bolstering your organization's diversity, then you should consider implementing the following initiatives:

  • Identify and begin building connections with national minority organizations not only for access to college-age minority students, but for access to the organization's members who might be viable candidates for mid- and senior-level positions.

Some minority groups to consider include national organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Urban League, minority honor societies such as Delta Mu Delta and Beta Kappa Chi, organizations of professionally licensed individuals such as accountants or engineers, trade associations in areas of specialization related to the positions to be filled, and minority fraternities and sororities.

  • Target recruitment advertising to minority publications such as Emerge, The Advocate and Hispanic Times, among others. While online help wanted classified ads will be placed by 43 percent of companies, only 5 percent of new hires will be generated by Internet and job recruitment web sites, according to a national study by the William Olsten Center for Workforce Strategies.
    o Use your internal employee resource groups. Ask minority employees to provide insight on effective places and ways to recruit diverse candidates.

Obviously, this strategy depends on how your existing minority employees view the organization's commitment to diversity. According to a new study by the Center for Women Policy Studies and Coopers & Lybrand, out of more than 1,500 women at Fortune 1000 companies, only 30 percent of women of color would recommend their firm to a friend based on management's commitment to diversity.

  • Develop training for hiring leaders to ensure that diverse applicants aren't discounted in the interviewing process because they are different.

  • Understand the "cultural norms" of diverse candidates. For example, a study from the American Society of Interior

Designers found that 21 percent of people interviewed said the physical workplace would have an impact on their decision to accept a position. Baby boomers, ages 35 to 54, tend to be activists about problems with the physical workplace, while Generation Xers, those ages 18 to 34, are more likely to leave a job than to try to correct the situation.

  • Partner with your marketing group to ensure that all marketing--not just recruitment advertising--features a diverse mix of individuals.

Additional Resources
Minority Recruiting: Building the Strategies and Relationships for Effective Diversity Recruiting by William G. Shackelford (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1995). Provides information to build a successful minority recruiting program, with surveys, checklists and worksheets to help you evaluate your current program and plan your course of action. Topics include: methods of recruiting, components of a minority recruiting program, pitfalls to avoid, new technology and campus-based programs, among others.

Intercultural Interviewing by Christine Turkewych and Helena Guerreiro-Klinowski (Jamestown Area Labor Management Committee, 1992). Provides guidance on how to recruit, inter view and assess diverse job candidates and to hire the best. Topics include: communicating interculturally, systemic barriers in the interview process, expanding the talent pool, selecting the best candidate and surfacing relevant reference information, among others.

The Directory of Diversity Recruitment (HR Press) provides a cross-referenced listing of 200 premier minority and women-oriented publications where you can recruit the best talent available. Listings include complete information on publication, circulation, audience, ad rates, editorial focus and unique features. Includes a geographic index to select publications by regions and a language index that can help you find people with specific language skills.

Minority Organizations

  • American Association of Hispanic Certified Public Accountants, 100 N. Main Street, PMB 406, San Antonio, TX 78205; 203-255-7003; A membership group of Hispanic certified public accountants that helps its members in their careers by providing scholarships, employment assistance and a newsletter.

  • American Indian Sciences and Engineering Society, P.O. Box 9828, Albuquerque, NM 87119-9828; 505-765-1052;

  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, 8415 Data Point Drive, Suite 400, San Antonio, TX 78229; 210-692-3805. Developed to increase opportunities for Hispanic students in education.

  • League of United Latin American Citizens, 1133 Twentieth Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20036; 202-408-0060; The nation's largest Hispanic membership organization seeking to improve the status of Hispanic persons in the United States.

  • National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc., 3 West 35th St., New York, NY 10001; 212-279-2626. A non-profit corporation committed to bringing the talents of African Americans, Latinos and American Indians to the nation's engineering workforce. Conducts research, provides scholarships, does demonstration projects and publishes educational materials.

  • National Asian American Telecommunications Association, 346 Ninth St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94103; 415-863-0814. Formed to help Asian Americans enter into and progress in film, radio, TV and other media. It offers workshops and publishes a quarterly newsletter.

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 4805 Mount Hope Drive, Baltimore, MD 21215; 410-358-8900. One of the oldest and largest organizations serving African Americans.

  • National Association of Black Accountants, Inc., 7249-A Hanover Parkway, Greenbelt, MD 20770; 301-474-NABA; This organization's goals include, but are not limited to, helping minority students enter the accounting profession and representing the interests of minority accounting professionals.

  • National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, 8701 Georgia Avenue, Suite 200, Silver Spring, MD 20910; 301-650-2440; Organized to help ensure full use of the resources offered by the predominantly black colleges. This organization is adding a job bank to its web site.

  • National Bar Association 1225 11th St., NW, Washington, DC 20001; 202-842-3900. Founded in 1925, the oldest and largest national association of African American attorneys, representing over 17,000 lawyers, judges, educators and law students.

  • National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations, 1501 16th St., NW, #1053, Washington, DC 20036; 202-387-5000. A nationwide membership network of agencies, organizations and professionals involved in service delivery, research and training opportunities for Hispanic communities in the areas of health, mental health, human and youth services and advocacy.

  • National Consortium for Graduate Degrees 'for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc.;

  • National Economics Association, c/o Dr. Alfred Edwards, University of Michigan Business School, 701 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; 734-763-0121. Concerned with encouraging blacks to enter the economics profession. Conducts research on the economic problems of the black community, publishes a quarterly, biennial directory and a job placement bulletin.

  • National Hispanic Bar Association, 1700 K St. NW, Washington, DC 10005; 202-293-1507. A voluntary bar association working with the District of Columbia Bar Association to assure minority lawyers are accorded full rights and opportunities.

  • National Institute for Resources in Science & Engineering, 4302 Star Lane, Rockville, MD 20852; 301-770-1437. A nonprofit organization that gives technical assistance and information on Opportunities for Hispanics and Native Americans in the fields of science and engineering.

  • National Minority Faculty Identification Program, Southwestern University, P.O. Box 770, Georgetown, TX 78627; 512-863-1208. Minority candidates for college and university teaching positions are invited to register with this service, which shares information on available college teachers with prospective employers. Colleges and universities wishing copies of the list must pay for the service.

  • National Society of Black Engineers, 1454 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-549-2207; Seeks to increase minority participation in engineering.

  • National Urban League, 120 Wall Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10005; 212-558-5300; Seeks full civil rights for minorities. Operates job training, placement and executive exchange programs, among others.

  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, 5400 E. Olympic Blvd, Suite 210, Los Angeles, CA 90022; 323-725-3920. Formed in 1974 by a group of Hispanic engineers in the southern California area. It has student chapters in a number of campuses and 20 professional chapters located all over the country. It offers some scholarships, maintains a job referral file and publishes a bimonthly newsletter.

Web Sites

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