Michael C. Hyter is one of today’s best-known experts on inclusion and diversity, and the author of The Power of Choice: Embracing Efficacy to Drive Your Career and The Power of Inclusion: Unlock the Potential and Productivity of Your Workforce. Hyter has had a long and storied consulting career, and was just this month appointed as the new Chief Diversity Officer at Korn Ferry.
Michael Hyter, author and Chief Diversity Officer, Korn Ferry
A highlight for me of writing my newest book, Ignore Your Customers (and They’ll Go Away) (HarperCollins Leadership, 2020), was when Hyter agreed to contribute a feature on diversity and inclusion in talent management. I’m likewise grateful for his interview answers below.
Micah Solomon, Forbes Senior Contributor; Customer Experience and Company Culture Consultant: What are the dangers of “sticking with what you know,” or “going with your gut” in employee selection?
Michael Hyter, author of The Power of Choice; Chief Diversity Officer, Korn Ferry: Sticking with what you know or “trusting your gut” is an easy way to miss future essential contributors to your organization because you just “know” someone is or isn’t going to be a great fit for the position you have in mind. This can be for many reasons: for example, that you expected someone gregarious and the person you interviewed seems reserved.
Although certainly some positions—sales and so forth—benefit from hiring outgoing people, the challenge is that how someone behaves in an interview may not fully represent how they’ll interact with customers in a more realistic situation.
Solomon: You basically get someone who interviews well, which–unless perhaps for sales jobs–isn’t necessarily everything you need to know.
Hyter: Correct. But the problem goes far beyond how people interview. We all have biases for what we think a person in a particular position should be like.
Solomon: What they should look like/sound like/how old they should be/even what type of first name they should have when we’re looking to fill a position.
Hyter: Yes. And the more important the position in the organization, the more likely the slot that you’re reserving mentally is going to be for someone who’s a lot like you. I counsel major corporations on whom to hire for executive positions, and when I suggest they consider someone who doesn’t fit what they have in their mental picture, it’s very difficult to get them to broaden their thinking.
Solomon: When companies don’t listen to this advice–and even though you’re one of the most persuasive guys I know, I expect some just don’t get it–who do they end up hurting?
Hyter: Failing to be more inclusive in your thinking leads to reduced opportunities for people who are browner/more female/more dis-abled/younger/older/more foreign-seeming/more southern/more northern, and so forth in an organization. But I’m not trying to sell you this inclusive thinking only for altruistic reasons.
It’s also a huge loss for your organization if you don’t consider someone for the C-suite who has all the other qualifications but is, say, younger when you expected someone in their older. Or, in tech, someone from one university when you expected a someone from a different university. Or someone to sell pharmaceuticals who doesn’t look like the types you’re used to hiring, you greatly restrict your talent pool; you’re no longer picking the best of the best; you’re picking the best, potentially, of the average. And this is a loss for you, your customers, and your bottom line.