Some clarification is needed here around what we mean by ‘targets’ as distinct from the ‘targeting’ of particular candidates for vacancies.
Whilst the former refers to particular benchmarks organisations set to tackle under-representation within their workforce, the latter refers to attraction strategies as a constituent part of a recruitment process geared toward ensuring that talented candidates are attracted to apply for positions within an organisation. Both in this sense are relevant to the diversity agenda. However, where the issue arises is when the desire to attain set equality targets driven by legislation, turns the individual from the targeted minority group into a target himself or herself rather than a human being in their own right with the creative abilities and talent that an organisation needs.
The end result of an equality strategy that focuses on the attainment of targets rather than skills therefore, is an organisation where minority groups are viewed tokenistically and where diversity is simply understood as an attempt to balance workforce databases. Within this kind of thinking, the general perception and attitudes towards individuals from minority groups can be rather negative and very undermining.
A true approach to diversity however, should be one whereby the focus of attention is on the skills, talent and creative abilities individuals possess that is needed within an organisation. The consequent sourcing, identification and development of individuals in whom these characteristics can be found should be carried out through fair, inclusive and transparent processes which will result, naturally, in a diverse set of talented individuals with the skill sets needed within the organisation.
In summary then, if an organisations processes are truly fair, inclusive and transparent, and if there is a genuine commitment to diversity at all levels, not only will the ‘sort after’ skills be located but also set workforce targets achieved and, importantly, surpassed.