How Diverse are HR Vendors’ Executive Teams?

by | Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

There are 1000s of blogs/articles/white papers on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and the takeaway is always the same.  DEI is the right thing to do, and it even impacts the bottom line.  As a person of color (POC), I suppose I should be grateful that DEI is at the forefront.  But to be honest, most of it feels like lip service.

The solution is always the same too.  The Executive Team and HR must command the entire organization to focus on DEI, especially hiring. But there is another critical group that companies rely on for guidance – HR Tech. So I started to wonder.  Exactly how diverse are HR Tech Executive Teams?  

At first, I was curious, so I looked at a few HR Tech vendors’ Executive Teams. Then, I started to get irritated and decided to look at 30 top HR Tech Executive Teams. Since I’m an I-O Psych, I included the top I-O companies. First, you should take these numbers with a grain of salt. I didn’t spend days on this, nor did I follow any scientific methodology.  I used the eyeball test, e.g., Hispanic-looking last names – focusing mainly on POCs and counting gender. Out of the 365 executives, 4% were Black, 3% were Hispanic, and 12% were APAC. On a kind of bright side, there were 31% Female Executives. Of course, the real numbers are likely a little higher, but frankly, it wouldn’t matter even if they doubled.

What’s the big deal?

Hopefully, everyone agrees that these numbers are low. I know these HR Tech companies aren’t intentionally leaving out POCs. However, given our role as trusted advisors, we should be more mindful. After all, we are the ones publishing ALL the blogs, webinars, and white papers saying that DEI is the right do, and it does impact the bottom line. This makes it especially disturbing that HR Tech Executive Teams are not diverse. The good thing is that there is probably more DEI further down the organization. The bad thing is that you may be inadvertently sending a worse message. You can be a VP, but you can’t be on the Executive Team. You may be thinking, “who would take it this way?”  All your brown colleagues.

Does it really matter?

Maybe it doesn’t matter, and it is possible to be fully invested in DEI even if your Executive Team isn’t? I am obsessed now. When I see an HR Tech talking about AI in hiring, I look at their Executive Team. The question went from are HR Tech Executive Teams diverse to why aren’t they diverse.

You are bound by one law of motivation

I’ve studied motivation for over two decades. When it comes down to it, there is one simple law of motivation:

People do what they want to do.

Don’t do what they don’t want to do.

Unless forced otherwise.

If we could go back 15 years, do you think we’d see more or less DEI content? I’m confident guessing that vendors were more motivated to publish other content. What changed since then? Societal norms…yeah, yeah. But for HR Techs, client demand is a much bigger force. When it becomes important to your clients, it comes important to you. You don’t have a choice but to get on the DEI train. Unless you hate money. Presto…a flood of DEI content.

You don’t know what you don’t know

When I was searching for the Executive Teams, I noticed that every one of the companies has a dedicated DEI section placed prominently on their website and has a product or service that identifies and increases diversity. Interestingly, some even have a picture of PoCs right above an Executive Team composed mainly of white males.

To a PoC, it is a stark contrast. These companies have dozens of people constantly reviewing and approving their website content. And nobody caught this! It’s a lose-lose situation. Either you didn’t see this, or you did see it but decided not to do anything about it. Let’s go with the lesser of two evils and say that you just didn’t see it. Did you know that you didn’t see it?

What’s the solution?

If you do believe in the power of DEI, go find and appoint more PoCs to your Executive Team. Trust me. There are 1000s of PoC superstars out there who can take your Executive Team to the next level.