When today’s HR executives think of diversity, it would make sense that that gender and ethnic differences within the workforce come to mind.
Why not? After all, today’s business media is chock full of reports about the challenges of making the workplace a more diverse place, especially within the white male dominated tech sector.
But the folks at Korn Ferry have uncovered - among some other interesting findings - a different take on diversity. Drawn from responses to its 2015 CHRO Pulse Survey, Korn Ferry found that 61% of the 250 participating CHROs and senior HR executives believe their organization's employee base lacks in “experiential and intellectual" diversity.
While creating diverse workforces has been a focus at many organizations, the “other” emerging diversity need is slightly more nuanced. It's the desire to grow a workforce that has many takes on ideas by employing people of different educational and professional backgrounds, according to Ellie Filler, managing partner of Korn Ferry International’s Human Resources Center of Expertise for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
As employers across the board face increased competition from old competitors and emerging newcomers alike, achieving intellectual and experiential diversity with the right talent mix can be an integral to winning market share, she explains.
To meet that challenge, 54% of CHROs surveyed report they are tackling the talent-mix issue by working more closely with department leaders during the hiring process, developing more robust external networking opportunities and utilizing new HR tools to assess current and potential talent.
“In an unforgiving business environment, which only promises to demand more of organizations if they want to maintain or grow their footprint, CHROs are keenly aware of how workforce gaps in diversity, knowledge and experience impact their ability to do so,” says Filler, based in Switzerland.
Building the right culture in which people are fully engaged is the area that close to half of CHROs (49%) feel is most crucial to meeting their organization's long-term, bottom-line goals. The talent mix is key to that.
HR is struggling for talent, too
Moving to the boardroom, 35% of HR executives report that the primary HR issue boards are focused on is succession planning, followed closely by executive compensation. Interestingly, despite today’s increased importance of talent, only 5% of CHROs believe boards are focused on broad-based compensation – a clear disconnect.
Within their own department, CHROs are finding it challenging to hire strong HR talent -- a critical piece of achieving overall workforce optimization.
As HR faces increasing demand to play a strategic business partner role, 38% of CHROs say finding HR talent with “business acumen” as the biggest barrier to making strong hires.
Filler explains that to a large extent, HR is so focused on the other lines of business they serve that they often do not address their own needs. But, in order to chip away at the HR talent gap, they need to create a paradigm shift, where they are also able to invest in developing the desired competencies in the upcoming generation of HR professionals.
When asked what is the most important competency for a CHRO to have today, a clear majority (58%) chose “tolerance of ambiguity,” mainly the ability to work in conditions of uncertainty and change
"Through client conversations and my deep knowledge of the function and business landscape, it has become clear that CHROs must possess the competencies to navigate and adapt to uncertainty, as well as build a responsive, effective and differentiated workforce,” Filler says.