With a strong belief that all companies must embrace diversity, Torin Ellis has been a top diversity recruiter for the past 17 years. He’s also held his boot camp “Rip The Resume” – which focuses on giving students the tools they need to enter the workforce – at HBCU’s and other universities all across the country.
In a new Netflix documentary, “Top Recruiter: Reign of The Bosses”, Ellis faces off with six other recruiters from around the world as they battle for the “Top Recruiter” title.
Ellis sat down with NBCBLK to discuss the importance of diversity in the workplace.
Why do you think we lack so much diversity in the work place?
There are a variety of reasons. From the corporate side, they tend to hire in networks they are familiar with or schools they have attended. When it relates to recruiting talent they are a bit risk averse. They lean on what has been proven to them. On the candidate side, I think that diverse talent has been a little averse to risk too. Sometimes the schools they have attended tend to have a different education track and that tends to put them at a bit of a disadvantage on paper, but we are finding that many of these candidates are equally prepared. I think we are beginning to do something serious about that.
What do you think diversity adds to a company? Does it affect the bottom line?
At a recent panel, I said that it‘s a very hard argument to suggest that a more diverse talent inside of Google would make Google a 50 billion dollar company versus where they are right now. It caused everyone in the room to pause because that tends to be where so many lean their diversity conversation.
My position is it will impact that bottom line. It will impact the culture. How much? I’m not that sure. What I do suggest to them is that embracing diversity and doing it for reasons other than simply checking a box will ultimately make the organization far stronger and palatable to the community and to the clients and customers they serve.
What are some of the challenges you go through as a diversity recruiter?
Getting organizations to understand that the workforce is shifting in terms of millennials and that same workforce is also shifting in terms of the composition. With those sources working together demographically and ethnically, organizations are going to have to look at a broader audience of talent. They cannot continue to complain about talent shortage when they are not equally as willing to reach out and explore in different and unhidden pockets.
Have you seen a change in companies as far as inclusion initiatives?
We are seeing the change; however, I think a lot of the organizations are still struggling with exactly how we do that. I think inclusion is really what helps people to determine that they wish to stay inside of an organization, but the piece that is often ignored and missed in that entire equation is a phrase called “covering.”
Basically what covering says is that people tend to avoid different stigmas and identities that are negatively associated with who they are. To give you an example, An African American woman who is covering, may not wear her natural hair to work because of the environment and may decide to straighten her hair so that she better fits in. Covering affects everyone.
What type of impact do you think covering has?
What they’ve found is that when people are covering, 70 percent of them are less committed to the organization versus inside of a company where people are encouraged to bring their whole self to the environment; those individuals are 90 percent, almost 100 percent committed to the organization.
Think about it this way, if I have to hide certain things about me, if I can’t be who I really am inside of whatever environment I’m in then there’s a high degree of probability that I am not delivering my very best. Covering can hit all different level of employment and we have to do a much better job of allowing people to be who they are.