Employers Challenge: Hiring a Diverse Workforce - Really?

Recruit to Need

I have read that one of the most daunting challenges for an HR professional is building a diverse workforce. I don’t believe that is true. To me, the most daunting challenge is finding the right candidate for the job.  If we recruit with the job in mind and we fill that job with the most qualified candidates we will end up with a diverse workforce.

Let’s take Still Serving Veterans as an example organization.  First, we are a Non-profit Veteran Service Organization, we hire for the job and not for a quota. Consequently, our workforce looks like this: 10 men, 14 women, ages range from late 20’s to late 60’s. At one point we even had an 83-year-old woman on staff, she was our receptionist. There are Veteran’s and non-veterans, healthy and disabled, Veterans and retirees,  former officers and former enlisted,  Special Ops backgrounds and plain old soldiers, ground combat experience as well as sea service. We have Black, White, and Hispanic. I cannot think of a more diverse organization that is the size of Still Serving Veterans. so what is the trick?... There is no trick.

Hire to your needs. The most qualified people we show up, and if they don’t…keep looking. When they do show up, snap them up. The adage “hire slow, fire fast” does not mean to be slow in the hiring process, it means to be slow in the recruitment process, and fire fast does not mean be heartless, but I heard something on the radio the other day that struck a chord. Dave Ramsey was saying “if you wouldn’t hire them again, why would you keep them now?” Good point Mr. Ramsey, thank you. If they are dead weight, it is time for them to go.

Pressure and Churn

That advice is hard for some because of the pressure to fill open positions, especially in the contractor world, but if you hire the right people in the first place you won’t have “churn”. Churn is people leaving the organization after a short while because they don’t have the proper skills or they don’t fit the environment.  Churn is a time and resource consumption monster. I would rather spend extra time with a vacancy and fill it with the right person than fill the same position more than once in a year. When an organization is experiencing “churn” every department is affected. The HR department, the department that has the vacancy, other departments, vendors, and anyone that has anything to do with that particular department is affected, so everyone loses when you have churn.

Good candidates are out there because people are always looking for a new or better opportunity, and most people change jobs “10 to 15 times (Doyle, May 1, 2017)1 in their lifetime. The old days of getting a job and staying there 20 or more years are pretty much gone. The workforce is changing rapidly because of technology.  Old skills are no longer needed because they have been replaced by computers.  New skills are needed to keep up so specialized people are needed. Find them, and employ them now, you will be lucky to keep an employee for over 5 years.


If we focus on the job at hand and finding the right candidates to fill our positions, diversity should not be a problem, the pieces will fall into place, it has for us.

1.      https://www.thebalance.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467


Reflection by Bill Koch (USMC, retired), Director, Still Serving Veterans, wkoch@ssv.org