The Key Elements of a Cultural Diversity Talent Management Strategy

Keywords: cultural competence, Talent management, Cultural diversity talent management (CDTM), multicultural recruitment and retention, Onboarding

Summary

Talent management is not a one size fits all approach in modern organizations. This article focused on the need to tailor talent management to meet the needs of a diverse organization. Cultural diversity requires thinking about how to tailor recruitment and retention practices in order to meet the specific needs of different cultural groups represented among new employees. First you need a strategy based on data that provides insight into the points of view across different cultural groups. Providing culturally appropriate practices will increase recruitment and retention.

We have entered a period of talent scarcity. At the same time, demographic changes have led to an increase in cultural diversity in the recruitment pool. In an era of abundance talent, implementing a diversity initiative is the best strategy for harnessing cultural differences in the service of productivity. The goal is to reduce the challenges cultural differences create in people working efficiently and effectively together. In order to attract the best and brightest in a shrinking, yet diverse talent pool, the strategy must include tailoring recruitment practices to meet the needs of different cultural groups.

It is well known that the baby boomers will retire in the next few years, which will result in a “brain drain.” The knowledge and experience of about 40% of the workplace will leave with the retirees. Even with the recent increase in U.S. birthrates, the workforce is expected to decline steadily between the years 2000 to 2050 (Monthly Labor Review, November 2006). Even with more workers opting to retire later, the number of younger generation recruits in the pipeline is insufficient to meet the labor force demands. In addition, retention of college graduates is increasingly difficult. To sustain productivity and high performance in an era of stiff competition, population shifts, and the challenge of managing diversity, organizations must address the unique needs of different cultural groups they hope to attract and retain. Maintaining talent and the drain of knowledge that retiring workers will take with them is the central concern.

Talent management is the key to addressing the inevitable knowledge gap challenges. Cultural diversity talent management (CDTM) can address multicultural recruitment and retention challenges. CDTM is a unique approach that requires customization similar to the human resource practices that tailor performance to individual needs.

Here are three things to consider in developing talent management practices for cultural diversity recruitment and retention:

  1. Develop a strategy
  2. Provide culturally appropriate recruitment and performance review processes
  3. Provide cultural appropriate career development practices

Developing a CDTM Strategy

It is not surprising that collecting data is the key to developing a CDTM strategy. One of the most important benefits of affinity groups, turnover interviews, and mentoring is the valuable data they can make available. A study by Sodexho and the National Council of La Raza (2008), for example, indicates that a significant number of companies view the Latino affinity group as an invaluable resource for customer insight and product testing. Human resource officers and managers can use these groups to gain insight into how to customize talent management programs. Ideally, the human resource officer works with the managers and the cultural diversity resource specialist in using the data to develop tailored talent management strategies.

Using a combination of quantitative survey data and focus group interview qualitative data offers the richest source of information. Certain groups, such as Native Americans, will be less open to survey data than group interviews. Focus group interview data collection tends to increase the odds of participation, but the trade off is that data analysis is more challenging. The more difficult it is for people to talk about the subject matter, the more clever data collection techniques will have to be.

HSBC used a group of “robust, consistent and transparent methods” for global talent identification. The multiple sources of data included 360 degree feedback instruments, interviews, panel reviews, self and manager assessment. The capability framework was constructed to identify the behaviors of outstanding HSBC performers.

Culturally Appropriate Recruitment and Performance Reviews

One of the big mistakes managers and human resources officers make is relying on the same recruitment and performance review practices that were “successful” when the organization was monocultural. They soon realize that something is not working as it should as these out-dated practices fail to include a more diverse set of employees. The second common mistake is thinking that diversity recruitment and performance review skill building alone will solve the problem. While this is a reasonable approach, care must be taken in developing skills without the awareness and attitude needed to support them. In other words, the approach fails to consider the cultural competence components that serve as a foundation for skills (e.g., awareness, attitude, and knowledge).

The key elements of performance review cultural competence is awareness of one’s own cultural diversity lenses, attitude towards cultural differences in performance, knowledge of what performance means across cultures, and the skills needed to competently manage cultural differences (See the DTUI course on this topic for more details). This is definitely one of the training areas for which there is increasing need.

Provide Culturally Appropriate Career Development Practices

Career development is where mentorship programs and performance evaluation programs overlap. Much of what has been offered above about performance evaluation is relevant here. The primary difference is that the mentor and mentee tend to meet more often and the relationship is less hierarchical.

The use of Onboarding for recruitment and retention is increasing in popularity. According to Madeline Tarquinio, Onboarding “encompasses the variety of tasks and requirements involved with acclimating and engaging a new employee in the company.” It has been shown that Onboarding improves retention and reduces the time new for new employees to reach expected productivity levels, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group (2008).  Onboarding can be easily extended to CDTM for meeting the needs of employees across cultures. You want to make certain that socializing new employees into the organization’s culture is inclusive to the extent that it is tailored to meet the needs of different groups. The younger generation employees are acculturated to social networking, which translates into making certain that these new recruits are quickly introduced to as many of networking opportunities in the organization as possible. Best of class companies Onboard before the new employee starts, according to the Aberdeen Group study (2008).

Summary

Talent management is not a one size fits all approach in modern organizations. This article focused on the need to tailor talent management to meet the needs of a diverse organization. Cultural diversity requires thinking about how to tailor recruitment and retention practices in order to meet the specific needs of different cultural groups represented among new employees. First you need a strategy based on data that provides insight into the points of view across different cultural groups. Providing culturally appropriate practices will increase recruitment and retention.

Billy Vaughn, PhD
Chief Learning Officer
billy@dtui.com
If you like this article, you should check out our Cultural Diversity Talent Management webinar series starting August 13, 2008. Click here to learn more.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: