How talent mapping can improve diversity – by Mary Francia

A well-known US corporate is keen to increase the diversity of its leadership team, so it recruits an outstanding, in this case Black, woman to head a key division of its business.

It sounds like a success story, right?

And you would be right, but unnoticed by them, there is another talented Black woman in one of its other offices who is ready to move into a top role.

She’s put out because she was never considered for the division head. In fact, she feels that the company has never invested adequately in her future.

Fast forward six months, and unsurprisingly, she leaves…

…Head-hunted for a senior position by an international conglomerate that can appreciate her value and is delighted to increase the diversity of its leadership team.

It’s becoming a very common scenario. Companies parachute diverse talent from the outside into the C-suite. But they don’t see the wealth of diverse talent already present internally and miss out on what these executives have to offer.

How can you avoid this costly – and for your people, demoralizing – mistake?

The key is to map your internal talent. This is an exercise that companies often carry out at the top-of-the-house, but should be conducted at every level.
While it’s critical to evaluate the diversity of your people, it’s not the only area to examine.

You must consider the capabilities inside your organization. What categories do your employees fall under? What skills, qualifications, or expertise do you need, which are currently missing? What types of roles will become redundant over the next five years and should be phased out?

Understanding the makeup of your workforce in detail allows you to plan long-term, because you can see what’s coming up through your talent pipeline and proactively fill in any gaps.

It’s also excellent for retaining good people.

For example, in the past, I’ve helped a company identify employees who had not completed their degree’s, so they could support them in furthering their education. You can imagine the goodwill, loyalty and trust they generated with relatively junior team members, when their company invested in their future and their career – often at considerable expense.

Another company I worked with calculated the average time employees spent with them. We then used our talent mapping tools to identify all staff members coming up to that landmark, reach out to them and offer them additional training, a promotion, bonus or relevant opportunities. This became a regular process, which significantly reduced their churn.

Not being afraid to “crosspollinate” across the company divisions or functions to expand career development, to allow an employee to learn and bring knowledge enhances outcomes and builds a stronger pipeline for future executives.

Obviously, it’s much more financially efficient to grow talent internally before recruiting externally.

But counter-intuitively, it helps with external talent acquisition as well. Leaders want to come into companies where they can see that talent is leveraged at every level. It’s a sign that your company is caring and that it will invest in your future, too.

Certainly, this is the case when you are looking to hire a more diverse senior leadership team. They’ll want to see you are not just paying lip service to inclusivity but also have a genuine commitment to it. This means appreciating the value that diverse team members lower down can bring to the company and promoting them where possible.

We have all heard the phrase ‘Your people are your company’s greatest asset.’ So track them the same way you’d track any other asset, invest in them and make the most of what you already have!

Mary Francia is a partner at HIEC. She regularly helps companies map their talent and use that information to better plan their workforce, attract the right people and increase retention and engagement amongst existing staff. To find out more about how she can help your company do that, too, contact her directly, email