I know - very original title on the Friday before MLK day, but at least I’m current! Usually I try to write about something that touches me or inspires me that is related to recruiting. This week, ESPN did a story on Dr. King and how “whites and blacks” agree and disagree on various race issues in sports. I tried to find it on youtube to post it here for you and was unsuccessful. I get the feeling, knowing ESPN, that they’ll show it again so hopefully you get an opportunity to see the story.

I can’t remember all of the different topics that were covered on a survey, though among them were the “Rooney Rule” and the most admired man in sports. These two things stood out to me initially because they were the two questions that generated the most discussion. Secondly, the “Rooney Rule” could easily be parlayed into diversity recruiting.

First, the most admired man in sports was the thing both races agreed upon most. The person is Michael Jordan. Second, the biggest difference in the survey came regarding whether or not the NFL still needed the “Rooney Rule.” The Rooney Rule, as per Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.orgwikiRooney_Rule, requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations opportunities. The rule is named directly for Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league's diversity committee, and indirectly for the Rooney family in general. This is due to the Steelers' long history of giving African Americans opportunities to serve in team leadership roles.

There are two ways I could think of that we could adopt the Rooney Rule in recruiting. The first is to commit to presenting at least one diverse candidate for each opening your firm attempts to fill. The second is to ask your clients how important diversity is to them. Then again, if you know they are football fans, ask how they feel about the Rooney Rule.

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Comment by Ken Forrester on January 14, 2011 at 1:38pm

David, I like your sensitivity regarding diversity recruitment and how you linked it with MLK and the Rooney Rule. 

Sure, studies have shown that a team consisting of a diverse group of workers will outperform a non-diverse group, thus the need for a diverse workforce.  However, there are two problems regarding diversity recruitment. 

The major problem is that most are still not convinced that there is a real need for diversity focused recruitment.  Simply because the word diversity implies African Americans.  If you pick anyone at random and ask what percentage of the US population consist of African American?  The majority will tell you anywhere between 30% -45%.  The last time I checked, it was only 12.8%.  So, it’s a very limited talent pool.

The second problem is that talented African Americans do not want to be recruited specifically because of a diversity focused need.

If an employer is truly serious about diversity recruitment, they need to recruit the young talent by having a presence where those talents are.

Comment by Mike Rasmussen on January 15, 2011 at 2:01am
I love this topic.  It correlates with my own blog of a couple days ago....People are not capital, equipment, nor robots.  As Ken so brilliantly puts it: "African Americans do not want to be recruited specifically because of a diversity focused need." Amen.  It is clear that we need to continue to make opportunities available to all.  Martin Luther King, Jr. is a hero who opened the doors for better opportunities and made a clear impression on our society's need to be better.  One important aspect of business is to realize that diverse teams attract a diverse customer base fully enhancing the bottom line.  And a diverse team that naturally supplies fully robust career path, is so much more profitable, successful, and by happenstance attracts more diverse talent.  Great post, and great comments.  We would do well to continue to not set up a diversity program to just have one, it must trully be a mindset that the company will embrace.  And to do that, the issue cannot be forced but rather must be part of the organization's overall direct course.  And if the company wants to better engage an increasingly global customer base, they would do well to have a very inclusive workforce.  The better the candidate experience the better the company brand, which will naturally attract talented African Americans, Caucasians, Asians, or any other beautiful culture. 
Comment by David Jacks on February 25, 2011 at 10:16am
Thank you John, Mike and Ken for taking the time to read my blog and replying with such thoughtful responses.


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