Rhona Barnett-Pierce

RHONA PIERCE

January 1, 2024

Diversity Hiring Predictions for 2024: A Conversation with Tara Turk-Haynes

Tara Turk-Haynes

Tara Turk-Haynes

Tara Turk-Haynes is an executive leader with over 18 years of experience in Talent Acquisition, employee engagement, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Tara is the founder of Equity Activations, she helps companies develop strategies to make talent acquisition equitable, foster inclusive workplace environments, and implement impactful DEI initiatives. She is a sought-after speaker and consultant trusted by companies like Culture Amp and Sound Edit, and has been on stages at TA Week, RecFest USA, and many more.

Diversity, equity, and Inclusion are among the top things candidates consider when evaluating potential employers.

In fact, 70% of job seekers want to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to diversity and Inclusion, according to a 2020 survey from The Manifest.

In 2023, more companies went public with their DEI data and goals. This trend is partly driven by the growing importance of DEI in retaining employees, attracting talent, and appealing to customers [].

But we also saw a slowdown in DEI momentum. Some of the factors that contributed to this slowdown include:

  • Economic uncertainty
  • Increasing politicization of diversity-related topics
  • General “fatigue”

 

Concerns over legal risks and political backlash have led some companies to de-emphasize DEI data and analytics in their efforts[].

 

Diversity Hiring isn’t dead!

As we move into 2024, companies will have to navigate the evolving landscape while maintaining a commitment to diversity and Inclusion in a manner that aligns with legal and societal norms.

I asked my former manager and friend, Tara Turk-Haynes, about where she thinks we’re headed as it relates to Diversity Hiring and what we can expect for 2024. Below is a summary of our conversation.

 

What cultural shifts do you predict will significantly impact diversity hiring practices in 2024?

 It’s such a mess right now; I feel like it’s such a mess. Specifically in the US, politically. The election is going to be a lot. That’s going to be a huge factor on the economy. It always is. But that also then connects to our legislative and our court branches. It’s all connected. We didn’t know Roe v. Wade would be overturned like it was. A lot of us thought that was impossible.

I think people need to understand that the impossible can happen. The security that we feel with protections for people who have not always had the most accessible experience within the workplace are very fragile. And so it really depends on us voting.

If you are passionate about your ability to apply for a remote job, or if you want to see salary ranges on job postings, all of that is connected to the politics of this country.

And because that’s so material right now, I can’t pinpoint where we’re going because it’s so up in the air. It’s just so wild.

People need to know it’s all connected, which is why you should be talking about some of these things at work in a way that’s very safe and connected to the business and connected to people and productivity. It’s not separate.

 

Facilitate Political Conversations at Work

“There’s a really productive way to have these conversations, and it’s transparent and supportive without it turning into a debate. We just need to be bracing ourselves for the impossible happening because it could. It’s happened already.

Your HR Team, for example, will have to deal with the ramifications of benefits changing ramifications of caregivers, how you hire in terms of using your demographics, etc. What’s legal, what’s not legal. All of these things come back to us at some point. It is not over there. It’s immediately right here. So ensuring you strategically think about all those scenarios is important.”

Tara likes it when CEOs encourage voting by allowing employees to take the time needed to go and vote.

 “We need more people to have their voice so that we can deal with these things in real-time, regularly. Normalizing the impact that anything that happens in the world is going to happen within your workplace.”

 

Defining Diversity Hiring

The theme of the conversation I had with Tara centered around the fact that most companies haven’t defined what Diversity Hiring means to them. It’s apparent that Executives and the teams within the company responsible for executing Diversity Strategies aren’t on the same page.

Tara has been a DEI-focused Talent Acquisition professional since the beginning of her career. We discussed how her outlook has changed over the years.

 

How has your own thinking about diversity hiring changed over time?

I’m learning that we do not all share the same definition of DEI and diversity. And so, I think the solution is to have comprehensive conversations with stakeholders about what we mean as an organization. When we say diversity, diversity hiring, and DEI, let’s be very Data-driven and define what we are trying to achieve here; what’s our Why?

I think that DEI started becoming a trend for a lot of companies. George Floyd was murdered; let’s do black boxes. We’re going to say this, we’re going to do that. And I don’t think there was a roadmap of what that would evolve into. We weren’t all on the same page about what we were trying to achieve when it comes to hiring.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard some leaders say, “I really would like to hire more from this particular group,” that’s not DEI. DEI is about making your process equitable so that particular group can thrive within your hiring process and not be shut out due to all of the different kinds of stereotypes, biases, and inability to hire equitably. And you are not putting the onus on them but on us to improve our hiring process.

“I feel like there’s a specificity that we didn’t have a few years ago that we should be driving towards now, just like we talk about any strategic business initiative.” Let’s say you’re not getting enough candidates from a particular group: How can we go back to the core of it and say we need to reach this community in a different way. And this will look different for every organization, depending on what’s important to them.

“But I think that specificity has really started to land with me because I thought we were all on the same page. And we’re just not.”

 

Retention is how you measure the success of your DEI Efforts

Organizations put a lot of effort into diversifying their talent pipeline and hiring X number of employees from each demographic, but very few focus on retaining diverse employees.

 

What do you believe to be true about Diversity Hiring but don’t have data to support it?

Suppose you are hiring an only, that can be an only woman, an only Latinx woman, man, non-binary person, transgender, etc. In that case, you’re setting them up for failure if you are not putting support systems in place so that there is psychological safety for them. And if you’re not holding people accountable, all of the work you did to hire them means nothing if they leave within 6 months to 1 year because you didn’t do the work to make that space safe for them to succeed.

If you look at the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, only 10% are women, and only 2 are Black. We have a problem in the workplace, and we’re not understanding that from a larger perspective. We’re giving excuses as to why instead of coming together for solutions and collaborating on how best to counteract some of these things and not normalize them.

“I fundamentally believe all the money you spend on your DEI program means nothing if you can’t do anything when it comes to retention.”

 

Starting a Career in DEI

Tara has many people reach out to her and ask about the steps they can take to start a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion career. I’ve also had people reach out about this and about how to start a career as a recruiter. Tara’s unique experience in both fields can give us great insights into how to start and how to thrive in these fields.

 

Do you have any recommendations for anyone wanting to start a career in DEI in 2024?

 First, I say you don’t want this, but if you’re not going to listen to me, read Aubrey Blanche’s blog post about what it really means to work in DEI.

You must be data-driven; you have to learn Excel. It’s not just programs, book clubs, fun people, and stories; it’s skills-based. You need the skills to audit an organization in terms of its equitability.

Tara believes that the reason why we have an influx of people wanting to work in DEI is because they don’t know what the job entails, and aren’t familiar with the KPIs, having to show ROI, etc. Everyone thinks they can do it.

“It takes someone who is continuously working on that skill to be better in order for them to be effective at it. And I don’t think there are a lot of people who understand that scope of it.”

 

Connect with Tara

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Tara and encourage everyone to connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more about DEI and Equitable Hiring Practices.

Rhona Pierce

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