In the past several years, executive search firm KPIs relied heavily on efforts made in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), but we have been making progress in the wrong way, and this isn’t what you are expecting. Of course, we should be monitoring success in these areas, but the DEI efforts I am suggesting we track should be more inclusive rather than just the small representation of DEI we see being reported. The new goal of DEI is to ensure that people may, in the future, see themselves, be themselves, and develop as themselves in your organization. Move your organization beyond representation in three to five key areas and move away from ticking these boxes as the success to boast, I want to hear the story of the wide variety of who is in the room contributing and leading outcomes; this is our new north star.

Start with diversity conversations that are more inclusive at the outset, more than skin deep, and what is visible to the human eye. An organization’s view of diversity needs to be inclusive from the start. Is gender equality represented in addition to neurodiversity? In addition to racial diversity, is there generational diversity in the C-suite? Those are meaningful discussions to engage in. From the standpoint of an executive search consultant, do you accept, “Yes, I understand that I want a <fill in the blank with a gender or ethnicity description> candidate,” or do you challenge your client in a new way? Dear clients, if you are not being challenged this way, your search has failed before it started.

What I am presenting to you may or may not be an unfamiliar solution, but you may not have considered its impact on the executive search process before. Don’t be concerned that you couldn’t self-prescribe and may not have self-diagnosed this in your organization and with your advisors. These conversations and the tabling of these conversations for your consideration present both an opportunity and a challenge. The challenge is to understand the problem, but once you do, the opportunity is to push yourself to expand your horizons and find fresh talent.

As an executive search ‘veteran,’  there has never been a better time for us to demonstrate how these discussions open the top of the funnel and overflow executive searches with new diverse executive candidates.

Consider expanding diversity definitions to include these groups: generational, cultural or geographical location, neurodiversity, educational (including dropouts!), and more. The bottom line is that any personal difference is worth including in your organization’s diversity plan if it can influence how people interact and work together. Get to know the humans you are recruiting as humans.

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