How to recruit and retain a diverse workforce

Improving firm culture and organizational practices will encourage retention

Feb 23, 2019 @ 6:00 am

By Steve Liverance

USA Financial employees at an event last summer.
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USA Financial employees at an event last summer.

Diversity in the workplace has proven to be valuable and even essential across industries, however, women, minorities, people with disabilities and other key groups are notably lacking in financial services. In fact, according to some reports, the financial advice sector is one of the least diverse professions in the U.S.

According to a survey by the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, 3.5% of CFPs are Latino or black. That means that of the 80,000 CFPs in the U.S., just 1,200 are black and 1,500 are Latino. In addition, roughly 32% of financial advisers were women as of 2017. And although minority representation in the industry is trending upward, there is still a significant amount of room for improvement.

In order to strengthen your advisory practice through diversity, you must understand how to recruit a diverse workforce and how to improve culture and the organizational practices to encourage retention.

How does an organization recruit a diverse workforce to boost innovation and creativity?

(More: New CFP Board ads feature lesbian couple)

First and foremost, leaders must facilitate "blind spot" awareness training so that hiring managers are made aware of their unconscious biases. While you may not be able to attract minorities in every situation, you can alter your recruitment efforts so that you are more likely to find qualified minority candidates.

Purposeful hiring

When seeking candidates for hire, be purposeful in choosing where job openings are posted and be mindful of who has access to seeing them. In addition to traditional job websites, consider informing local veterans' organizations, churches, ethnic support groups and professional organizations of openings in the company to allow new candidates to apply.

Hiring managers must recognize that in order to recruit a more diverse workforce, they need to already have that kind of culture in place. Some ways to grow that kind of culture include holding seminars and classes that explore cultural awareness or other aspects of diversity. Make sure these learning opportunities are open to everyone.

Know someone?Do you know a successful adviser from a diverse background who has an inspirational story to tell? If so, email special projects editor Liz Skinner at lskinner@investmentnews.com.

Keep employees engaged by developing a sponsorship program for new and existing employees. Align top-level leaders with each employee and set guidelines for one-on-one meeting frequency and discussion topics.

Another option is to engineer special project work groups to represent as many different backgrounds as possible, which could include age, family status, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, geography and more. This effort is all about creating new settings where people can learn from their differences and grow as a team and as an organization.

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Recognizing the value of diversity and the problems that the financial sector faces toward obtaining a diverse workforce is only the first step. You must then work toward inclusion by embracing diversity at a fundamental level.

Diversifying your workforce may take some time and effort, but the benefits of diversity are worth it. Start the process today to create a culture that will foster growth and inclusion for decades to come.

This story is part of an ongoing initiative by InvestmentNews to cultivate a financial advice profession in which diverse perspectives are welcomed and respected, and industry best practices can be shared across organizations.

Steve Liverance is chief human capital officer at USA Financial.

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