Diversity FAQ’s No 8: How is Diversity connected to Talent Management?


Talent management means different things to different people. For some organisations, it means people development, for others, succession planning. Whichever way one looks at it, talent management essentially refers to 3 main things: sourcing, identification and development of skilled individuals, the aim being to increase organisational performance and improve competitive advantage.

Now given that ‘talent’ is not culture bound and is undefined in its very nature, it can literally be found anywhere – regardless of educational background, socio-cultural experiences, gender, ethnicity, disability, etc. In this sense, talent transcends equality groups otherwise called the protected characteristics.

For the sourcing, identification and development of talent to be truly viable therefore, it must fundamentally connect to the 3 core principles of diversity – fairness, transparency and inclusivity – which given the very fact of the diversification of talent described above, serves as the foundation stone upon which any talent management strategy or process must be built, for its legitimacy as a process.

Essentially, an effective talent management strategy must have diversity at its very core for it to be a truly viable process. Where this is not the case, the process remains questionable and represents a contradiction in terms at best.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Diversity FAQ’s No 8: How is Diversity connected to Talent Management?

  1. GMC

    I’m not in fundamental disagreement with this article, but for me, I feel sourcing has far too much airtime in these conversations. Sourcing is talent procurement, not management. The management aspect is about retention and maximizing opportunity. Talent rarely matches a job description, it’s typically more oblique than that, and the talent stems from life experience and knowledge, becoming visible and valuable through opportunity. Diversity is in these terms both the source of talent, and absence of detrimental preconceptions in the environment is essential for this same talent to ever be made manifest and visible fairly.

    • Gregor – many thanks for your comments.

      Indeed, I do see your point of departure regarding sourcing as ‘talent procurement’. But within that term itself lies, I suggest, a slight contradiction – I say with respect of course. And this is the argument posed: Taking time to develop a strategic approach to attraction, one that is robust and capable of initially, to use your term, ‘procuring’ talent – is actually fundamental and indeed the link in the continous chain of subsequent talent management events – retention, maximizing opportunity, etc – to ensure that that talent initially ‘procured’ is actually retained and developed toward the benefit of the organisation.

      Indeed, separating TM from ‘sourcing’ evokes memories of the Cartesian Mind-Body distinction of the 17th century enlightenment period – a bit of a radical analogy I know and somewhat symptomatic of my christian philosophical persuasion. The point being, that just as it is arguable that it is a virtual impossibility to fully understand the ability of the body without linking it to its mental abilities, so too is it somewhat questionable, at the least, to see ‘sourcing’ as a distinct and somewhat separate part of the talent management process.

  2. GMC

    A radical analogy indeed, but you make a fair point and I accept that an organisational environment does not exist or operate in a vacuum.
    That said, perhaps I can elaborate a little.
    A strategic intent to recruit talented people is a fair idea, but there is insufficient opportunity in most firms to recruit all staff on such a basis without subsequently violating the psychological contract by not fulfilling the employers implicit obligations. With that, I believe that the sourcing aspect is the most rife with third party provider offerings. The sum of these factors has shown me plenty TM implementations that have failed badly.
    In essence is don disagree with the inclusion of sourcing, but feel more balance of focus is needed on the post hire activities and in my experience these are harder to make commercial justification for and as a result often neglected.
    The implementation I would hold as an example of how to do this properly would have to be that of Google, where many talented people.are employed full time but only ever given assignments to fill 80% of their time, the reminder being free to them as employees to pursue side projects. These are arrested into Google labs with full credit to the employee(s) responsible. These projects have resulted in the creation and market launch of many innovative services such as Google goggles.
    I hold the example up as it demonstrates some key things that are typically neglected. It relies on the talent to justify its time, fosters personal responsibility for individual development, promotes creativity, and rewards endeavour and contribution with credit and acclaim as well as allowing talent qnd skills to be demonstrated without necessity for a direct association with the job people qere hired for originally. I hope this does a better job of explaining why I think sourcing has too much airtime, and this carries with it a likelihood that the post hire activies are being neglected.

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