(Time to read this Blog is about 3 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My biz quote of the week:
    “If we don’t understand who our target customers are, and what life’s really like for them, we won’t understand who we need to be, and what value message will connect with them.“
    …Donald Cooper.
  1. What do these top 5 regrets of people who are dying teach us about how to live? Bronnie Ware, an Australian care-giver spent several years caring for patients in the last few weeks of their lives. Here’s what she says were their top 5 regrets of the dying:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. I wish I’d spent more time with my family.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish I had let myself be happier.
For those of us who still have much life to live, what can we learn from this, before it’s too late?

  1. A welcome proactive service or a creepy intrusion?  Last week I was a ‘virtual’ guest lecturer for a group of Biz School students at Toronto’s York University. As part of my session, I did this quick Survey:
    You’re walking down the street and receive a proactive text message from a Starbucks store 2 blocks away ‘welcoming’ you to the neighbourhood and telling you about today’s special ‘Triple mocha latte with almond milk’.  Do you find this to be:

a)a delightful and welcome proactive service from Starbucks?
b)a creepy and unwelcome intrusion into your life? 
To my surprise, about 80% of the students (age from 20 to 26) stated that it was, ‘a creepy and unwelcome intrusion’.  I thought this age group would love such a message but, apparently not!

Now, to this week’s important topic:


The mistake of hiring only those people who look just like us:

As I was working on this week’s Blog, I received an email from friend and colleague, James Brown.  James is a smart, decent and good man!   So, when he sends me some of his well-written insight, I pay attention.  His Blog below delivers a much-need reminder.

The mistake of hiring only those people who look just like us:

…by James Brown (jbbrown@telus.net)

I spent nearly 75% of my career working in positions in which I had the responsibility to hire others. My ‘teams’ ranged from a few to a few hundred.  These responsibilities began in the mid 70’s and continued for 40 years

With the 20/20 lens of hindsight, and with the understanding I have gained since then, I realize that I seldom found what I was NOT looking for.  While I never practiced active discrimination, I confess that I did not practice active inclusion.  Hence, my teams often reflected my own world, that is, they were predominantly white males.

Looking back, I can easily rationalize some of my decisions.  I worked most of my career in the electronic security industry and that industry tended to be somewhat incestuous.  People moved from one company to another and while it was not a closed loop, the trend was towards the status quo.  If you were on the outside, you almost needed an invitation to join the party.

Over time, things did change.  Women, people of colour and others from marginalized groups gradually cracked open the implicit, albeit unintentional, barriers to entry and thus made the community more diversified…and a truer representation of society at large. 

When I left the formal workforce, my team was almost 50-50 gender split and represented individuals from around the world.  Our pot-luck lunches were a culinary delight of smells and tastes that were unimaginable in my early years.

My failures were not errors of commission.  They were errors of omission.  My recruiting failed to deliberately encourage a broader range of candidates to apply. I was never chastised nor challenged for my choices because HR and personnel agencies simply forwarded candidates that fit the profile of the team.

Today’s hiring practices are much more sophisticated than in the past.  But biases still exist.  As a leader or manager it is your responsibility…no it is your DUTY…to ensure that your team reflects the diversity of society.  It is not only a case of good business; it is your moral and ethical response to the privilege of leadership that has been entrusted to you.

May I suggest the following:

  1. Cast a wide net in your search. 
  2. Use conventional and unconventional means to get your hiring message communicated.
  3. Be blind in reviewing resumes. Have references to gender, ethnicity etc. eliminated from the process so that qualifications become the primary determinant for selection.
  4. Recognize and acknowledge your personal biases by objectively evaluating the culture of your team.  It will be a reflection of your comfort with diversity.  Seek independent input if you see a trend in your hiring practices that appear to reveal any bias.
  5. Embrace diversity and change.  There was a time that I thought bell bottom jeans were God’s answer to sartorial splendor, but I got over that too.

If your team already reflects the fabric of our society, congratulations.  If it does not, do your personal ‘mea culpa’ and get on with the changes that are necessary. You have been entrusted with a responsibility for which you alone are accountable.

…James Brown,

James Brown Consulting, Vernon, BC.


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

One Response to The mistake of hiring only those people who look just like us:
  1. Comment *

    Hi Coop! Good stuff as always.

    All the best


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