Months after Election Day, everyone in the United States continues to feel the tensions that rocked the 2016 presidential race. The election has revealed that Americans are divided by nearly every metric imaginable - race, age, geographic region, education level, and religion, and companies in every sector are feeling those divided both internally and externally, regardless of their political involvement. Many, like Apple are struggling to unite diverse workforces. Others ranging from New Balance to Chobani are dodging criticism by both the right and the left.
Some companies have handled the strain better than others. Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney invited an angry backlash from customers and employees alike with his angry, post-election tirade threatening to fire any employee who had voted for Donald Trump. Johnson and Johnson reacted more productively, calling for unity and reaffirming their commitment to creating welcoming workspaces for all employees, no matter their political or personal beliefs.
These statements are important - companies should absolutely make public commitments to a set of values - but their potential to induce real organization change is limited. What’s the next step? Even as our country becomes increasingly politically and socially divided, good business strategy tells us we must build companies that are not only aligned but that are more diverse than ever before.
A growing body of research shows diverse teams are more productive, better problem solvers, and more competitive in the global market. One McKinsey study revealed that gender diverse organization can outperform their less diverse competitors by as much as fifteen percent and that ethnically diverse teams can top their competitors by an impressive thirty-five percent.
If companies want to take advantage of this research and truly build the most inclusive, effective, and successful workforce they can, those organizations need to move beyond mission statements and find structural ways to reinforce workforce unity at the core of their operations.
With little leadership on the horizon from our political leaders, the private sector must step up and intentionally find a way to negotiate an increasingly polarized America, forging a middle path that brings everyone to the table.
All companies – regardless of their formal commitments to diversity or their desire to get involved in politics – must find ways to bridge divides and bring employees together in the workplace if they want to maintain productive, competitive, and effective teams.
This doesn’t mean your company needs to transform into an activist or take a political stand. Instead, companies can achieve incredible results by making simple changes to a surprising piece of their organization: their talent acquisition strategy.
Instead of naming their values in open letters and public statements, or posting them on their websites and entryways, companies need to turn their values into actions and put them at the heart of their hiring process. By centering hiring practices around universally-held values that define a company and it’s goals, organizations will be empowered to build teams that are unified around common beliefs, instead of divided by personal or political differences.
This approach is especially effective because implementing values-based procedures can be a step-by-step process, customized to meet every organization’s unique set of individual needs. Some organizations are looking to unite an already diverse workforce while others are hoping to build more heterogeneous teams while maintaining a consistent and aligned culture.
This emphasis on building tailored strategies for values-based talent acquisition pairs neatly with recent trends that are moving hiring technologies towards cloud-based platforms. Spending in cloud-based HR solutions in 2016 outpaced on-site HR software, growing fifty percent and data from the Information Services Group shows this trend is only going to increase: forty-eight percent of HR and talent professional want to replace their current HR soft-ware with a cloud-based system by 2018.
Cloud-based means mobility but it can also mean disconnection or confusion. Using values to underpin your hiring process helps center interviewers, recruiters, and hiring managers, structuring their decisions around a specific shared set of values and principles.
This company-by-company approach means values-based hiring can be used successfully at any company, no matter what hiring difficulties that company is experiencing. That may mean starting at the beginning to identify key values that are important to your company or that may mean implementing new recruitment, resume review, or job description practices that emphasize alignment and specific values.
Unlike bias reduction trainings or employees workshops, these values-based approaches tie in directly into top talent acquisition strategies like blind resume review, data-driven decision-making, and structured interviewing – meaning you can align teams and center your company while also still making the most optimal hire every time.
While our political future is uncertain, our hiring practices don’t have to be. Through values-based hiring companies can take charge, ensuring that with strong, nimble, and creative teams, they can weather whatever today’s unpredictable market throws their way.