Heidrick & Struggles: The CHRO's Critical Role in Promoting Ethnic Diversity

Billy Dexter, Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles, faces the facts:

  • In the UK, just 4% of CEOs and 6% of board members in the FTSE are black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME), despite members of this community making up 14% of the working-age population.
  • In the US, 37% of private-sector workforce is nonwhite, but just 13% of executives are minorities.

So what is the role of the CHRO to help their company reach a more diverse population of customers, suppliers, and partners? Here are three areas they need to focus on:

  • 1. Are we meaningfully involved?: Forming genuine relationships with these communities helps move companies past “tick the box” behaviors that stymie some diversity efforts.
  • If you don’t already participate in your target communities, determine where they are and what organizations matter to them. If these organizations don’t exist, are you in a position to create one?
  • 2. Who's in our pipeline, and do we have one?: To fill your pipeline with BAME talent, start with an understanding that the journeys of these employees will be different from those of white employees.
  • Your company also needs to demonstrate that it is a destination for BAME talent. You also need to role-model diversity at the right level.
  • 3. Do our diverse colleagues want to stay?: The key to retaining BAME talent is mentorship and sponsorship.
  • By providing its up-and-coming diverse executives with access to networking events, structured career plans, and meaningful relationships and face time with more senior colleagues, the company maintains a retention rate among diverse leaders that is markedly higher than that of its peers.

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