Diversity expert for Fortune 500 companies on what an ideal inclusive workplace looks like

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Ladders recently spoke with Joe Gerstandt, a renowned keynote speaker and consultant who works with Fortune 500 companies, small non-profits, and everything in between to help them understand diversity and inclusion. Read on as Joe discusses technology’s role in HR,  what an ideal inclusive workplace looks like and the challenges organizations face to achieve it.

How important of a role does technology, like data science for example, play in the field of HR and specifically in your work?

I think that technology and data science are going to revolutionize D&I work…there are some powerful opportunities to reduce the impact of bias, and identify where bias is causing us to leak talent. 


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Joe Gerstandt
Joe Gerstandt

What are the biggest challenges, from a technical and/or business standpoint, that those in recruiting and talent acquisition face nowadays?

I think that few organizations understand the impact that bias has, I think that in most organizations “talent,” is a relatively vague and ambiguous idea, I think that most organizations are focused solely on finding talented individuals, and not at all on building talented teams…which is a different body of work, I think that most organizations still do not understand the value of diversity and inclusion.

What does an actual, inclusive workplace actually look like, and how does one achieve it?

An actual inclusive workplace is one in which employees, regardless of who they are or are perceived to be, consistently feel included. What that looks like and means is going to vary from organization to organization. A big part of the reason why we have made so little progress on inclusion is that very few organizations have any clarity on that experiential outcome they are promising to deliver, there is not conversation around what it means to be included, what it looks like, feels like, and sounds like…so they continue to chase a vague and ambiguous target. Which is incredibly wasteful. Inclusion is the product we are hoping to deliver, an employee experience of feeling consistently included…if it is our product, we should be able to speak to its characteristics.

Most organizations can’t do that. Including organizations winning awards and getting put on lists. Inclusion as a body of work is in its infancy. You achieve an inclusive workplace by getting some clarity on what it means to be fully included in your organization, and then identifying the behaviors and practices that inform that experience. 

What should HR/recruiting/talent acquisition execs look for when recruiting job candidates?

That they are willing and able to align with the values of the organization, and they bring something new / make the organization or their team smarter in some way.