Diversity has been the hype-word of the decade; use the word, throw a punch line or two about the need for ‘difference’ in the workplace & voila! You are now a credible diversity-first company culture that seeks authenticity and inclusion. Unfortunately, that alone isn’t enough to create diversity at the core of its mission and values.
The Parks Legacy
It’s been 78 years since Rosa Parks refused to leave her bus seat, and yes, black people have gone a long way since then to gain fundamental human rights — but that all is still not enough. Parks departed in 2005, and since her death, black people have gone up & down the trim wheel of what it means to dare to look different.
That shouldn’t be the case; in fact, white people shall be the first to celebrate black people. And trust me, this has nothing to do with the ethical or moral obligation all humans have to ‘others’ who look or think differently from them. This is backed up by data. According to McKinsey, recognizing diversity in the workplace adds significant value to company success. Here’s how:
- Top-quartile companies for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.
- Top-quartile companies for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.
- Bottom-quartile companies were less likely than average ones to achieve high financial returns.
And if the data above hasn’t convinced you, there are hundreds of studies conducted on how diverse workplace culture and inclusive management can enhance revenues, retention, and companies’ results.
As a Diversity Talent Sourcer, my primary mission & vision is to find diverse talents who look different than me. In my endless search for those talented gems that are hard to find but do exist out there -trust me, they do!-I find myself a bit hypocritical as a white female with only one or two colleagues who have ‘darker’ skin than mine. I always wondered: what would it look like to have a company managed by black people?
Back then, I thought this was an idealistic fantasy. Today, I have found the best-case scenario to show what happens when the right professionals are in charge of the right place, without having second thoughts based on how they look like/unlike; It’s the Yardstick Management model of when black people lead.
A Black Giant Was Born
Ebbie Parsons, a young, eager American, started his entrepreneurial journey early in 1989 after the Pistons swept the Lakers in the finals, where they set up shop the next day and became the first street vendor in Detroit selling Piston’s paraphernalia. From that humble start, young Ebbie went up the ladder to being the sole supplier vendor at every high school and college graduation at all the major venues in the city.
Fast forward to college, the 19-year-old kid had his own three-bedroom apartment, two cars, and was making $40K/yr hustling with a scholarship covering room, board, and food. Ebbie, carrying on his thousands of dollars in one and five-dollar bills from his thriving side hustle business, has had to convince bank managers that his money was legitimate.
By 2012, the young kid started what is now known as the nation’s leading Black-owned Management Consulting firm supporting Organizational Strategy. Yardstick Management is a name well-aligned with Netflix’s $100M lending plan to Black-owned businesses, leading recruitment and retention efforts in Wisconsin & Arizona, and partnering with Facebook to teach coding to underserved communities worldwide.
A leading brand in the business, Yardstick has attracted the 5-times NBA All-Star Chris Webber as the Head of Strategic Partnerships. Chris spoke about his vision for the company and commitment to reaching global goals.
“I am taking on this role because I have followed and admired Dr. Parson’s career path for some time now, and I have seen what his team is capable of accomplishing. My aim is to make Yardstick Management a multibillion dollar firm and a revolutionary brand that companies will actively seek out for hire. We are excited that we have the opportunity to make global change for those who look like me to receive a seat at the table, and I am eager to do my part in making that happen.” — Chris Webber
Dispelling the Myth
Ebbie Parsons’s message is simple yet powerful:
“It’s time we stop allowing the masses to spread the horrible myth: Black executive leaders don’t exist; they do, if you look closer.” — Ebbie Parsons, Founder and Managing Partner of Yardstick Management
He goes deeper in making an analogy to show how black talent exists by sharing a personal experience from his hometown in Atlanta. Ebby Hosts more Black leaders from various sectors that run some of the largest P&L’s on Earth to sit on his front porch, more than many of the world’s leading companies have had as candidates submitted by their Executive Search partners. It’s all in the network!
“That, right there, is the reason why your company is not getting enough diverse talents in your pipeline: because your partners look just like you. One question a company leader aims to achieve more diversity among their employees is how many ‘different’ executive partners do you have?
Once you’ve figured out the answer to this question, you’ll realize the simple answer to the dilemma of, “where can we find great Black/Latinx/LGBTQ+ talents? hire an executive partner that is different. The rest will follow & fall in place naturally.” -Ebbie Parsons
Since Yardstick loves data, here is a numeric proof of why their model works, shared by Intel:
Since beginning to require that a panel of interviewers for any new hire shall include at least two women and/or members of underrepresented minorities in 2014, Intel has seen the diversity of new hires climb dramatically from 31.9% to 45.1% in the course of two years.
LinkedIn has stated in its Global Talent Trends 2020 report that internal recruiting has increased by 10% since 2015.
This information emphasizes the importance of diversifying your hiring panels if you seek a more inclusive & diverse pool of talents. We are humans, and we tend to be attracted to those who look like us; that’s why a non-diverse panel will never give you the results you wish to achieve when it comes to a diverse pool of talents.
If you are genuinely looking for diversity, then look no further than your first line of goalkeepers: your sourcing & hiring teams.
The Secret Sauce
Yardstick Management might not be the first, nor the only, black-owned company in the United States, but this consulting company takes the game to a whole new level, and here are my main points of why this feels & tastes different:
1.A Diverse Team… Like REALLY Diverse: Just a quick sneak peek on Yardstick’s internal meetings will tell you all you need to know on how a Diversity-First company should & would look like — Diversity in its finest! They have the statistics to prove it too! 56% of the employees are either Black or African American, with White representation at 19%, 12.5% LatinX and the remaining 12.5% as ‘others’. 53% are female employees, and 43% are male.
2. 0% Preaching, 100% Practice: I see this as the bread & butter of what Yardstick values are rooted in; a practical guide of how a company can achieve Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in finely tailored steps with clear milestones until an organization reaches its full DEI goals integrated within their DNA. This powerful, thoughtfully-measured approach comes from in-house — the company shares the lessons learned over almost a decade of black management leaders running all shades of diverse talents.
3. Big Named Brands Trusted Partner: Netflix, LinkedIn, Coursera, AWS, Playboy, and Barnes Group, to name a few, are all long-term clients of Yardstick Management. A trusted partner by the nation’s leading companies in DEI, Yardstick’s work is definitely worthy of trust, and y has an extra added-value of networks to bring to the table.
4. Vetted Sourced Talents: A massive difference in Yardstick’s sourced talents is the fact that 85% of talents are familiar with at least one of the Yardstick team members. This translates into personal filtering, connections, and affiliations, a technique built on the real person rather than words in a profile. This double-consolidating sourcing technique ensures a highly selective, vetted pool of talents.
Yardstick’s Tip of The Day
When asked about the top tip any company can apply now to obtain more diversity on the spot, the Yardstick team shared their trusted, tested, simple trick:
“Greater flexibility can lead to greater diversity!” — Yardstick Management
And this is the exact result LinkedIn, a Yardstick partner, shared in its 2019 report of Global Talent Trends.
The professional networking giant shares the fact that a diverse workplace translates into different lifestyles. Embrace this difference by inviting more flexibility to your procedures and internal interactions, and you will immediately invite more diverse talents. A richer top of the funnel translates into a broader range of diverse talents to compete and eventually nail your interviews.
Walking The Talk
It means nothing if you are a DEI officer who works in a company where the only diverse employees are the DEI ones. Trust me, I did the search, and those are many! An authentic colorful culture starts from the management, passing by the DEI department, down to the fresh junior admins who just stepped in. Diversity is not a sprint; it’s a marathon in which you live & breathe. It’s a life-long journey and commitment.
I’ll finish with Yardstick Management’s definition of Diversity that can quickly adapt to any workplace and dynamic. I hope it inspires you as it has done to me!:
“Diversity and Inclusion:
Diversity is at the heart of everything Yardstick Management does. Diversity includes, but is not limited to the respect and appreciation of race, skin color, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical abilities, age, parental status, work and behavioral styles. Because diversity in our staff and the inclusion of all those diverse voices are what we use when we “Yardstick Management to win”, Yardstick Management is committed to creating and maintaining a workplace where all employees have equal opportunities to participate and contribute to the success of the business.Yardstick Management employees are valued for their skills, experience, and unique perspectives. This commitment is embodied in company policy and the way we do business at Yardstick Management. Diversity and Inclusion are the most important cornerstones of our principles of sound business management and strategic initiatives.
Each leader at Yardstick Management knows that we must accurately represent and celebrate the full breadth of the society in the United States internally to effectively speak with professional athletes and members of the community. We will celebrate our differences and embrace the things we have in common.We expect every Yardstick Management employee to take ownership in holding Yardstick Management accountable to always strive for a diverse coalition that works to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard.” — Yardstick Management