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Looking to Hire Diverse Tech Talent? Look Internal First

Looking to Hire Diverse Talent

It’s 2021, and despite the numerous initiatives to hire people of color over the years, it seems the needle just isn’t moving significantly. Layer on top of that what is happening across the U.S. and the world when it comes to violence against and mistreatment of under-represented minorities. How can we truly impact change?    

Maybe it’s time to collaborate with a new diversity consultant to broaden your talent search or increase the recruitment budget by a couple million dollars. No brainers, right?     

The reality is: it’s going to take more than just these actions to truly diversify your company. A little extra effort and searching in some new places may get some new faces in your mix, but to really create a diverse and inclusive company culture for tomorrow you should start by examining and leveraging the culture you have today.

Step 1: Look at your data

A lot of times the answers are right under your rug. Check out your employee engagement results. So much of this intel is already at our fingertips. The question is what you do with it.

If more people of color are exiting than being promoted, chances are there’s a bigger problem on your hands with your culture and talent development cycle that’s making that negative retention picture emerge. Before you jump into a major recruitment campaign, time and resources are best spent improving some of that culture work at home.

Step 2: Focus on culture for today (and tomorrow). 

It’s one thing to attract talent. But developing, cultivating, and retaining talent is quite another.

Building inclusive communities in the workplace strengthens teams, fosters engagement and reminds all employees their involvement matters. A lot of organizations haven’t quite yet caught on to how to make sure that employees want to stay long-term. 

At Fortive and Tektronix, we are committed to doing the hard work to improve diversity in all engineering and business fields, not just for our organizations. That’s part of how we work with university labs and partners around the world. It’s also part of our internal work to challenge our employees to have difficult conversations.

We have fostered strong allies internally to support our employees of diverse backgrounds by holding regular events to inspire more inclusive thinking and creating robust employee resource groups to give underrepresented groups places to turn for continual support. 

These groups, the executive level support they have, and the continued drumbeat of inclusive messaging we hear from our CEO on down engender a culture of engagement at Fortive and Tektronix that is essential to any organization looking to recruit more talent of color.

Step 3. Learn from peers

But we know we don’t have all the answers. We are always seeking to learn, grow and improve our work within the diversity and inclusion space. That’s why one of the first steps I took when I started at Tektronix this year was to attend the Simple X Summit hosted virtually from Portland in March.

Tektronix sponsored this event as an opportunity for us all to learn about the good work occurring in the Northwest, and I personally used the event to reach out to some organizations who are building connections and to welcome new tech talent from underrepresented groups.

Simple X has been working for three years now to bridge the gap between Black professionals and the workplace, and when it comes to the tech sector, we all can help by listening, mentoring, and recruiting new talent.

The Simple X session “Disruptive Leadership: What’s not written on the brochure” particularly resonated with me. DE&I change agents shared how they’ve built their careers, refined their leadership styles, and taken steps to build stronger workplaces. 

As I dive further into my role at Tektronix, it’s great to be part of this extended Pacific Northwest community of companies working to make a difference in their region and beyond.

Khyiem Long, MHRLR, SHRM-CP, is the inclusion and diversity leader at Beaverton, Ore.-based Tektronix.

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