Secure diverse leadership talent in challenging situations

Case Studies | April, 2014

By Dwain Celistan

Many organizations have modest levels or no diverse leaders. Thus, when an opening for a leader presents itself, and an internal candidate will not get the position, a search firm can help source strong diverse talent. DHR International is particularly strong in this regard since 1/3 of our placements are diverse.

For perspective, in the first quarter of 2014, less than 10% of the Fortune 500 CEOs were diverse (the definition of diversity for this article is gender and ethnicity). Data for other leadership levels is not as readily available, but most sources suggest that the levels for direct reports and one level below are also below 10%.

Sourcing and securing diverse talent is more challenging. However, this is a bar that can be scaled. A case study will dramatize that it can happen.

The leader of a large procurement team for a Fortune 50 company, with responsibilities of over $3B needed additional leadership talent. He needed to add talent from outside of the organization as they wanted new capabilities. Candidates to join as new leaders would need to meet a few hurdles: 1) lead in a manner consistent with the company’s core values; 2) demonstrate high standards of competence; and 3) the pool needed to include diverse talent.

There were two positions and they had been open for nearly a year. In that time, they had pursued internal efforts and those of a contingent search firm. Thus, they demonstrated patience and maintained the high expectations for these new leaders.

DHR International, led by Executive Vice President Dwain Celistan, was selected to fill the two of these positions. DHR International is a top 5 global search firm with a commitment to identifying great talent, but also including diverse talent as part of candidate slates.

For this organization, a successful candidate pool and process would include the following: 1) come from a narrow industry group; 2) achieve desired score on two, third party assessments; and 3) include diverse talent. DHR International sourced talent as requested. It required extra effort to identify diverse candidates that met the criteria.

Following an extensive interview process, the two positions were filled with diverse candidates. The pool proved to be so rich that a third candidate was selected for another position. This candidate was also diverse.

In summary, the organization was able to hire three diverse leaders for challenging and important roles. Once they joined, these leaders proved to be consistent with the culture and have delivered fantastic results— improved processes, saved millions of dollars and one of them was promoted within two years. These results led to an expanded partnership between that organization and DHR International.

For information on how DHR International can help your organization, regardless of size, to expand diversity in its leadership team, please contact:

Dwain H. Celistan
Executive Vice-President
Global Diversity Practice Leader
DHR International