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Ask The Recruiter: #MeToo heightens focus on diversity in executive hiring

With job market tight, candidates feel more free to cast critical eye at organizational culture revealed by search committee members

Jan. 18, 2019

Question: How has the #MeToo movement affected searches?

Tuft, Harrington
Harrington, left, and Christie

Shira Harrington
Founder and President
Purposeful Hire

While I haven’t seen an overt impact from #MeToo on my searches, I have noticed heightened sensitivity around the need for more diversity in hiring and overall inclusion in corporate cultures. Too few associations have an appropriate gender balance or sufficient diversity in their executive teams.

As a diversity trainer, I have heard CEOs say they are feeling pressure from staff, boards and members to diversify their leadership while facing systemic issues that may prevent them from achieving such goals.

The #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements have spotlighted the need for diverse and inclusive cultures, especially as staff gather around the lunchroom watching the news.

There is clearly a polarizing ripple effect that can influence internal searches, whether expressed or not. It would be wise for CEOs and HR leaders to rethink their hiring practices and sensitize their staff through sexual harassment and diversity trainings to promote increased equity in their workplaces.

Jill Christie
Tuft & Associates

Objectivity in executive search always has been important, but in the wake of the #MeToo movement, we are being even more diligent in carefully assessing the search process and the workplace in general.

As search consultants, we owe it to our candidates—and ourselves—to pay close attention to the culture of the hiring organization. We encourage candidates to be attuned to the organization’s environment and to ask questions, and they are doing just that.

Candidates pay attention to the way board members interact with each other, how they treat staff and how staff members interact.

While this kind of scrutiny isn’t new, candidates do appear to be more empowered in the search process. They certainly are aware of the #MeToo movement and also know it’s a strong job market. As a result, they are not afraid to set high expectations. Their goal, which we certainly support, is to work in an organization that promotes a culture of respect, protects all employees and fosters a safe and productive work environment.