Taking Talent Management, DEI Efforts to the Next Level

July 14, 2022 • Rhonda Smith

"I’m really urging each one of you to build a foundation—an entire ecosystem for talent."

To flourish today, business leaders must build solid foundations that help workers soar and embrace “a burning need for conscious leadership.” So said Google’s former director of executive recruiting, Ginny Clarke, during her keynote presentation at the 2022 BOMA International Conference & Expo.

According to Clarke, who now operates her own leadership strategy consulting firm, building a foundation focused on talent is crucial, but many decision makers across industries don’t have a talent mindset. They are not always aware of how to recruit and retain employees, she said, and what diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) truly involves.

“If you want retention, you need to demonstrate to people that you want them there and that you value them,” she said. For many employees, internal mobility in an organization is important.

“Each of you needs to be thinking about ‘What’s next for my top talent? And for the non-performer, what’s next?’” she added.

This is particularly true for industries such as commercial real estate that are facing serious talent identification, recruitment and retention challenges in the midst of the current tight labor market.

And Clarke knows a thing or two about commercial real estate: She worked earlier in her career at Jones Lang LaSalle (now JLL) and Prudential Real Estate Investors, handling asset management, portfolio management, capital raising and client servicing.

For example, she acknowledged that while women now outnumber men in the property management field, this could be a double-edged sword if they then don’t advance higher up the career ladder. “I want to make sure women are across all lines of business. I want to make sure you don’t get these silos so discrete and rigid that you’re missing out on other [career opportunities].”

While at Google, Clarke also led the tech giant’s Diversity, Internal Mobility and Non-Tech Recruiting teams. When it comes to DEI initiatives, Clarke said there remains a need for conscious leadership, which involves being aware of and focused on the needs of all stakeholders in an organization and not just on oneself. Trust, empathy and authenticity are often cited as characteristics of conscious leaders.

It also is important to understand the true intention of DEI initiatives, she said

“At Google, they hired on average 25,000 people annually out of 4 million applicants,” Clarke said. In the executive recruiting group, Google hired 500 to 600 leaders.

“It was a very interesting dynamic,” she said, noting that Google used algorithms and competency-based assessments as part of its hiring process. But, Clarke explained, the company’s hiring decisions also were influenced by “others there saying, ‘I know a guy.’”

“It created this homogeneity,” Clarke said. “Hiring executives this way is a slippery slope. You’re not getting the best. You’re getting people you’re comfortable with.”

Clarke said that, from a diversity standpoint, her work at Google was about much more than just identifying people to hire. “It was really about analyzing the systems that are in place,” she said.

“I was trying to create a change in the organization,” Clarke said. “It’s not just hiring one person; it’s shifting mindsets. That’s what is needed when you’re talking about diversity.”

At the end of the day, she said, it’s up to each leader to create a team, an organization and an industry centered on people. “I’m really urging each one of you to build a foundation—an entire ecosystem for talent,” she said.

Be sure to read the other story in this series, "Ordinary Is No Longer an Option, Business Strategist Warns."