Dear Dr. Lisa:
I am a leader in an organization that is getting serious about diversity and inclusion. I am trying to do my part and hire a woman or person of color. My challenge is when I look at the slate of candidates, I think the white man has a little more experience than the other candidates, however all of the candidates can do the job. I am not sure how I am supposed to balance the issue of who has the most experience with hiring someone who brings diversity to the team. We say we want to hire the best person for the job. If I go with the person with the most experience, nothing changes. How should I think about this?
Trying to Do the Right Thing
Dear Trying to Do the Right Thing:
You are trying to do the right thing. And good for you. These considerations are not easy, but key to making a great choice. It is important that you feel good about the decision you make on behalf of your firm. In your question, you suggested that all of the candidates could do the job. This means that more years or fewer years of experience may not make the candidate more or less qualified than you need them to be. Two doctors with 15 and 20 years of experience respectively are both qualified. The difference will show up in where they have practiced and what types of cases they have seen over the years. Five more years may not make a meaningful difference in the level of care you would get from either physician.
In other words, in terms of background and capability, the candidates are even. From there you start to consider what else your team needs – a specialty, another certification, a new approach, another gender, additional racial background, global experience, expertise in change management, etc. The list could go on. All of these things are lenses of diversity. I have been on several HR teams where a diverse hire was hiring a male. We did it and it added a new and important dimension to our team. So, for your hire, consider what you do not have, including race and gender, and take the opportunity to get it!
Way to Go! You are changing the inclusion landscape at your firm, just by asking the question and trying to do the right thing.
P.S. Your theme song is, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.