Webinar Breakdown: Driving Diversity and Inclusion in Executive Search: Part 2

We received 400 responses from executive search businesses in a recent survey and found that the single most resounding topic continues to be diversity, with 60% of respondents believing that there is a diversity shortage in the talent pool. Our webinar, Driving Diversity and Inclusion in Executive Search: Part 2, explores D&I in the executive search industry with a panel of industry experts led by Invenias’ Ashton Moran. Below, we recap some of the most interesting takeaways from our panelists.

Meet the Panelists

  • Juanita Martey – Partner, Amplified Search Solutions
  • Janice Ellig – CEO, Ellig Group
  • Snow Montemayor – Director of Finance and Operations, Catalyst Advisors
  • Nicole Meyer – Managing Partner, Meyer Partnership
  • Lisa Peacock-Edwards – Managing Partner, Wilton and Bain

Why is Diversity & Inclusion important to you and what motivated you to be involved and be an advocate for change?

“I found that I rarely found women who looked like me. I know that there are other middle-aged, intelligent, talented women and men of color, but where are they? I thought, ‘I really need to focus my attention on finding the talent that’s out there.’” – Juanita Amartey, Partner, Amplified Search Solutions

“Women were at the table, they were paid money, they had a title, but they really didn’t have a voice. So I saw my next career was that I needed to do something about it.” – Janice Ellig, CEO, Ellig Group

“I found myself one day sitting in a room thinking, where did everybody go? Where’s the representation?” – Snow Montemayor, Director of Finance and Operations, Catalyst Advisors

“It’s our responsibility as recruiters to help our clients get our of their own way. To think more broadly about what diversity means. I take it very personally that it’s my responsibility to drive diversity of all kinds with our clients.” – Nicole Meyer, Managing Partner, Meyer Partnership

“I want then next generation of women of any diversity to actually have a seat at the table of equality rather than be fighting as we’ve had to do so far. We continue the battle to make sure it is quality that we’re going for rather than anything else.” – Lisa Peacock-Edwards, Managing Partner, Wilton and Bain

How integral/critical is D&I to your pitch and subsequent search process?

For Janice and Nicole, D&I is incredibly important to their pitch and search process. While Janice’s firm does place highly-qualified caucasian men, she ensures that her firm always presents a highly-diverse slate. However, understanding that there are areas where corporate America has not trained enough women and underrepresented groups in key during the search process.

“I think that gender and people of color are a proxy overall for greater diversity and inclusion. We like diversity of thinking, but that comes from these different pools of candidates.” – Janice Ellig, CEO, Ellig Group

As a woman-owned business, Meyer Partnership not only knows it’s essential to introduce D&I during the pitch, but it also brings its own diversity of thought. The team highlights how diverse they are and leads by example. Understanding the difference in hiring a man and a woman as well as what it takes for women to make the jump into executive roles is a unique point of view their firm presents.

“The biggest challenge we have is helping clients not hire a mirror-image of themselves.” Nicole Meyer, Managing Partner, Meyer Partnership

Talk to us about how you position to your clients the diversity of your candidate slates in terms of invisible diversity traits

Invisible diversity are the things that we do not necessarily see when we meet or interact with others but can encompass disability, religion, class, age, sexual orientation, or more. For Lisa, it can be controversial to discuss because in order to understand it, it must be self-disclosed by the candidate, but it’s incredibly important to raise these to the client. In order to make candidates comfortable disclosing this information, Lisa ensures that her firm is a safe environment for candidates to share the information they feel comfortable disclosing.

“If it’s self-disclosed, I can tell the client—and I do tell the client—if someone is openly LGBT or if someone is a veteran…What I am conscious of is not raising anything on any assumptions made by things which we haven’t discussed with the candidate because I think it of course needs to be the candidate’s story to tell.” – Lisa Peacock-Edwards, Managing Partner, Wilton and Bain

Do you think search firms have a role to play in a client’s inclusion initiatives?

Juanita knows that executive search firms need to be a part of the solution and have a huge role to play. Knowing where underrepresentation exists helps industries make strides towards remedying the problem, but the problem begins before that. By helping to fight barriers to entry of industries as a whole, clients can make a genuine difference in fighting underrepresentation. Juanita’s firm works with organizations such as the Ace Mentorship Program, which helps high schoolers pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through mentoring.

“With our clients, more and more of the companies are understanding that underrepresentation of many groups translates to not only inequities within the profession but also missed opportunities within their business.” Juanita Amartey, Partner, Amplified Search Solutions

Janice believes that employees want to go to purpose-driven organization that give back to the community and that different groups across an organization should work together to be more inclusive. Millennials aren’t the only generation who want to give back to the community, and any civic-involvement that employees are participating in should be supported by the company.

“I think what’s really important today is for groups of employees across resource groups to work together. It enhances inclusivity within the organization, within the community, and makes the organization much more purposeful and purpose-driven.” – Janice Ellig, CEO, Ellig Group

What are some of the steps you are taking in your own businesses to lead by example?

For Snow, being as visible as possible as a diverse candidate is how they show that they are a representative group that attracts diverse and inclusive candidates.

“We have a culture of inclusivity.” – Snow Montemayor, Director of Finance and Operations, Catalyst Advisors

With 75% diversity across ethnicities at Wilton and Bain, they certainly lead by example, understanding that if they are talking to clients about diversity and representation, they have to be practicing it internally, otherwise it’s a “false promise,” Lisa said.

“I think one of our frustrations when we look at the executive recruitment world is the diversity talked about is a PowerPoint slide on a deck and there aren’t many out there who are actually doing what they talk to their clients about.” Lisa Peacock-Edwards, Managing Partner, Wilton and Bain

Juanita ensures that her organization is attending events where minorities are in order to make connections, whether that’s volunteering at events or serving as board members at different organizations. Her firm also updates their outward-facing branding in order to show that they partner or align with those organizations that are key to building those pools of candidates of diverse talents. Being upfront with candidates about their diversity needs helps them identify needs and find solutions.

“We can’t be afraid to ask our clients what diversity looks like on a team and then go after profiles of those who are underrepresented at those companies.” – Juanita Amartey, Partner, Amplified Search Solutions

Finally, Janice’s female-owned firm helps boards diversify and refresh their boards through their global practice for board advisory services. Janice’s Breakfast of Corporate Champions event also honors companies with more than 30% women on their boards, honoring 323 companies in 2019.

“We are a certified female-owned firm, so it’s in our DNA to really move the needle for women and underrepresented groups.” Janice Ellig, CEO, Ellig Group

There are some industries that are less diverse than others – what practical advice can you offer a search firm who’s looking to be a D&I pioneer in their field?

Nicole prides herself on having a very diverse team and ensures that the world is aware of that through her social media marketing. Leading by example is important to Nicole and her firm, and while Meyer Partnership doesn’t often work with millennials, she ensures that they set the example for the next generation of executives by getting involved in millennial organizations to promote diversity.

“I didn’t set out to hire diversity employees. I set out to hire really good employees, really good partners, really good consultants.” – Nicole Meyer, Managing Partner, Meyer Partnership

Question & Answer

Question 1: How do you ensure you are bringing in candidates of all ages?

Question 2: For those of you that are leading search firms, do you have formal diversity strategies that you share with potential clients?