Abel Garza is the executive director, Office of Affirmative Action/EEO at the University of Houston. He has held this position since 2002. He has almost 32 years of experience in human resources and affirmative action. He worked at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and served in numerous human resource capacities, including employment manager and compensation manager. He was also director of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s diversity program.
Q. When hiring, how important should diversity be to a business; how can a company achieve a mix of good candidates and diversity?
Businesses should consider having a diverse employee population as extremely important. Depending on the industry, it may determine whether or not a business succeeds. Studies have shown that diversity in the work force leads to increased employee retention, satisfaction and productivity. When hiring, businesses should first look for the candidate who best fits the needs of the position and the business. Once the applicant pool has been narrowed down to only those candidates who are the best qualified, other considerations such as diversity can be taken into account. To achieve a diverse mix of candidates, businesses should have a detailed description of the job. Secondly, businesses should advertise by any means that can be accessed and viewed by the largest audience.
Q. Should businesses have an official diversity policy?
Businesses must be careful in articulating an official diversity policy with respect to hiring. One may interpret that policy as an attempt to meet a quota. Unless a business is required by an administrative mandate, hiring quotas may be illegal. That said, it is important to note that diversity initiatives are purely voluntary unlike affirmative action requirements. There’s no federal or state mandate to have a diverse employee population.
Q. Is it important to customers that a business has a diverse work force?
It varies among individual clients. Some clients have strict policies in place that they will not conduct business with a company unless they have a diverse work force or, at the very least, have made respectable attempts to achieve a diverse work force. On the other hand, some clients are not as concerned with the demographics of a company’s work force. The clients who find diversity to be important in choosing to whom they send their business do so because they recognize the tangible benefits diversity brings to a business.