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One Powerful Way To Increase Diversity at Your Company

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

At a conference this weekend, I had a very interesting discussion with a male executive who leads a very public project at a very famous company. We met at an incredible session led by Aileen Lee and Tina Tchen that focused on creating inclusivity and gender equality at work.

Aileen Lee and Tina Tchen sit and talk about inclusivity during an entrepreneur session

Photo courtesy of Jenn Wong

Following the talk, the two of us ended up in a conversation about his hiring difficulties.

He explained to me that he's been trying to prioritize hiring more women, but that the majority of applications he receives are still from from middle-aged white men. Even a well known, highly respected company was having trouble attracting diverse talent.

More than anything, he wanted to know how to attract more female applicants.

Given the conference atmosphere, I decided to go with something simple that would hopefully stick with him after a weekend of non-stop information and inspiration.

While diversity and inclusion is a topic I still have a lot to learn about, I do know that a majority of hiring is impacted by the individual's personal network. Sure, some job postings go up on job boards that are accessible to a bigger audience, but many jobs reach potential applicants through word of mouth.

In other words, if he wants to reach more female candidates, he needs to consistently expand his network and build relationships with more women in his profession.

So I gave him a challenge. Twelve coffee meetings in twelve months.

Each month in 2019, he's to find a new woman in his field on LinkedIn and then commit to grabbing coffee with them. And yes, coffee – not a drink. This is about building professional relationships and it's important to establish that from the start.

While it's important he seeks out women in his industry, he doesn't have to focus on people he'd specifically like to hire. The purpose is to build new relationships.

Even if these women aren't personally interested in future positions at the company, their networks look a lot different than his. By building these relationships, he'd be opening a new pathway to more diverse talent.

Think about it. Having twelve coffees over twelve months is something simple that opens up a whole new world of talent – talent that could change the course of your business!

That's my challenge to you.

In 2023, intentionally seek out and schedule coffee with twelve people who think, look, act, or lead differently than you do.

Listen to them. Support them. Encourage them. Hire them. Learn from them.

The list could go on and on.

I promise it's one small commitment that will have a very large impact.

To happier employees,



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