Our Consultants with Diversity & Inclusion Experience
Cynthia Emrich, Principal, Heidrick Consulting – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 (202) 974-6054
In a study of high potentials -- more than 500 executives who had earned their MBAs from top business schools – Cynthia Emrich’s research team asked a direct question: What type of workplace culture would you prefer, constructive or aggressive?
The results were surprising. In contrast to everything Cynthia had read in the popular and business media about men creating and thriving in macho, hyper-aggressive cultures and women struggling in them, “Women and men described their desired workplace cultures almost identically: both wanted their cultures to be much more collaborative and supportive, with a strong emphasis on integrity,” says Cynthia, who leads Heidrick Consulting’s thought leadership and client work focused on Diversity & Inclusion.
“The extent to which their cultures mirrored their preferred one had huge implications,” she says. Specifically, among high potentials who reported a wide gap between their ideal culture (a constructive one) and their current culture (a more aggressive one), a striking percentage reported that they were likely to leave their firms within the year.
For women, that figure was 44%; for men, it was 46%. In contrast, when Cynthia looked at women and men who reported a narrow gap between their ideal and current cultures, the percentage who indicated they were likely to leave their firms dropped to 23% among men; among women, the percentage dropped to just 3%. The lesson this study underscores is very clear: a constructive culture is a strong magnet for top talent—particularly female top talent.
Although culture is critically important, on its own, it cannot level the playing field for women and other diverse employees, Cynthia says. To do so, organizations need to adopt a more systemic approach—one involving executive sponsors and coaching, leadership development that gives diverse employees stretch challenges that less often come their way, and other critical development opportunities.
Cynthia believes involving white male employees in shaping a constructive, inclusive culture is key. ”By giving men a voice and a stake in the conversation, we’re able to move the needle further and faster toward racial and gender equality in the workplace,” she says.
“Culture is critically important. There’s tremendous power in creating one where everyone supports others to reach their highest potential.” - Cynthia Emrich
Michael Loiacano, Partner – Chicago
Healthcare and Life Sciences
Phone: +1 (312) 496-1309
After 25 years in recruitment and talent sourcing, Michael Loiacano has pinpointed the critical factor that’s behind every successful search for a diverse candidate: Intentionality.
“You have to be deliberate about diversity and inclusion,” says Michael, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles focusing on recruitment and advisory services in the Healthcare Services sector. “Being intentional takes recruiting for diversity beyond just an idea, and moves it into the realm of real results.”
For example, Michael often builds momentum in talent searches by challenging his clients to think creatively.
“It helps not just to look for a title or degree. I like to look for the best athlete,” he says. “That means the candidate with assets such as pivotal expertise and experience, leadership skills, potential, agility.”
It also means enthusiasm. In a recent search for a senior leader for an LGBTQ organization, he interviewed candidates who were strikingly passionate.
“They spoke in a very real, genuine way about what it means to be LGBTQ, and what they wanted to do for the organization,” he says. “Their answers were impressive.”
Interviews like this are key to pinpointing the right candidate, getting them on staff and continuing to push the envelope of diversity and inclusion, he says.
“It’s not about just having diverse candidates on your slate,” he says. “It’s about getting them hired for these high-impact roles.”
“If you are building trust within a diverse community, you are calling them as a friend, rather than as a recruiter.” - Michael Loiacano
Ignacio Perez, Partner in Charge – Mexico City
Phone: +52 (55) 9138-0377
In Mexico, Heidrick & Struggles is a pioneer in encouraging diversity and inclusion, particularly when it comes to making inroads for women into high-level positions. “There are many companies that do not have a lot of women in the C-suite, or on boards of directors,” says Ignacio Perez, Partner in Charge of Heidrick & Struggles in Mexico. “This is an area where Mexico has come a long way, but still has more evolving to do.”
Heidrick & Struggles is making the process easier for clients via a simple core value: “We are going to present the best candidates based on the skills that you need.”
He adds that it’s very rare for clients to reject applicants who are female, LGBTQ, ethnically diverse, or have a disability. But considering such candidates might be a newer horizon for some. He mentions mid-sized companies in which an owner retires and a younger son more commonly takes over, rather than an older daughter.
“That’s a more traditional approach,” he says. “We encourage companies to broaden their scope. Many companies are more open-minded about this today. Older companies are not as used to it, but they respect that you do not exclude candidates from diverse groups.”
Ignacio partners with DaliaEmpower, an initiative to nurture the talent of women and promote them as potential leaders, both in the public and private sectors. He frequently makes presentations about the value of female representation at the C-suite level and on boards of directors.
“We’re trying to increase the number of women executives as well as encouraging pay equity,” he says. “Executive women and other diverse employees should be paid at the same level as a man for the same position.”
Mexican companies are more open today to diversity and inclusion, pay equity, and other factors that tend to attract diverse candidates, Ignacio says. “With some companies, it has been a gradual process to start thinking this way,” he says. “But they are working on it.”
“Diversity and inclusion are hot issues in Mexico. The new generation realizes they are part of a global economy, and they will perform betterwith a D&I strategy.” - Ignacio Perez
Victoria Reese, Managing Partner – New York
Legal, Risk, Compliance & Government Affairs
Phone: +1 (212) 551-0549
After 20 years in recruitment, Victoria Reese has developed strong insights about the qualities that make a diversity-and-inclusion initiative successful. One of the most crucial elements, she says, involves an openness to “disruptors” – those in your business who are bold enough to challenge the status quo.
“If you want different results, don’t do things in the same way you’ve done them before,” says Victoria, global head of Heidrick & Struggles’ Legal, Risk, Compliance & Government Affairs Practice based in New York. She also serves as managing partner of Diversity & Inclusion.
Today’s savviest firms have tapped into that powerful equation, she adds: “There’s much more of a focus now on people who are not afraid to ask the questions that other people are afraid to ask, both in the C-suite and at the board level,” she says. “Companies want their boards and employee base to really look like whatever market they’re trying to go after. And as we all know, we are living in a much more diverse world.”
Heidrick & Struggles is always on a journey of its own toward greater diversity and inclusion, Victoria says. For example, our affinity groups for women, professionals of color, and LGBTQ employees give people a chance to share experiences, advocate, and engage internally as well as with external networks.
“We’ve connected with similar groups at other companies, including our clients,’” she says. “We’ve shared speakers, events, and brainstorming. In essence, we’re holding ourselves up to the same mirror that our clients are holding themselves up to, and saying, ‘Where can we do better?’
“We want to understand what our clients’ challenges are, and emulate practices that have been successful for them, as well.”
“Where we really differentiate ourselves with diversity and inclusion is this: We are really living these values at the foundation of everything we do.” - Victoria Reese
Malcolm Sclanders, Principal, Heidrick Consulting – London
Phone: +44 (20) 7075-4000
From Malcolm Sclanders’ perspective, diversity and inclusion are not only moral imperatives; they’re pragmatic ones. As companies recruit a workforce for the future, a wider reach and more flexible mindset will be necessary, based on today’s trends.
“Within about 10 years, 50% of your workforce will be permanent and 50% from the gig economy – offsite or virtual,” he says. “At the same time, Millennials and Gen Z will become the main workforce, with very different expectations of work.”
These trends point to a future in which the competition for global talent intensifies. “Beyond diversity, there needs to be follow-through: an ability to maintain inclusiveness in the company,” says Malcolm, a principal in Heidrick & Struggles’ London office and a member of Heidrick Consulting.
He remembers a construction firm that struggled to hold onto its female engineers: They were three times more likely to leave the company within a few years of recruitment. Exit interviews revealed a certain degree of alienated feelings among those employees – a sense that they weren’t entirely welcome or included.
The company changed that mindset thanks to several key steps, such as monitoring employee interactions and putting in place analytics to measure results.
But also critical he adds, was the example set by the company’s senior leaders: They made diversity and inclusion a company-wide focus.
“There needs to be commitment from top leadership to diversity and inclusion,” Malcolm says. “Then you can really make meaningful change.”
“Companies need to create a value proposition that attracts the future employees they’re looking for.” - Malcolm Sclanders
Lyndon Taylor, Partner in Charge – Chicago
Phone: +1 (312) 496-1546
Diversity never exits Lyndon Taylor’s field of vision as he assists his clients with their recruitment needs.
“About 80% of what I do has a diversity focus,” says Lyndon, a member of Heidrick & Struggles’ Financial Services and CEO & Board Services practices. “Diversity is not just a sideline. It’s integral to the way I approach my work.”
Lyndon recently led a project to source diverse new talent for a global investment bank and financial services company. Within 18 months, the firm hired 13 African-American men and women to director-level positions.
It’s not a surprising result for Lyndon, who previously led the Diversity Advisory Services Practice at a global executive search firm.
“Diversity is just part of an overall talent strategy,” he says. “The best kind of diversity recruitment makes you think about competencies, not just positions.
“Instead of saying, ‘We need a CFO who knows XScale platforms,’ you might want to look at someone who has experience with certain market segments, with building teams, or with other qualities that will make her excel in your role.”
Lyndon credits his successes in diversity-focused recruiting to committed clients, creative search techniques and a high awareness of who’s who in diverse leadership nationwide.
“We make it a point to proactively know the market,” he says. “It’s critical not to wait for the diverse talent to come to us. We reach out to them and build relationships. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”
“Success is not always determined by the fact that someone sat in that seat in the past.” - Lyndon Taylor
Diversity & Inclusion
Learn about our commitments to diversity & inclusion and the unique programs we offer to our diverse workforce.Learn More
Ethnic Diversity Engagement Network
Like-minded individuals who believe ethnic diversity is to be celebrated, supported, and lived within our European network.Learn More
Honor Equality and Inclusion for Disability
Supporting the needs of current and future Heidrick & Struggles employees with disabilities and their allies.Learn More
Pride @ Heidrick
A network for the firm’s LGBTQ employees and allies to advance and transform inclusion, visibility, education, and leadership for LGBTQ people and issues.Learn More
Professionals of Color
Addressing cultural challenges faced in the everyday work environment for employees of color, while serving as a resource for mentorship and development.Learn More
Women's Inclusion Network
Providing education tools and resources, such as mentors or coaches, to allow women to navigate careers and reach their full potential.Learn More