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The Influencers

Recruiters Must Take Responsibility as Gatekeepers for Driving Diverse Hires

The Talent Business global chairman and CEO, Gary Stolkin discusses the unique position of recruiters as gatekeepers, and how becoming activists will drive more diverse hires

Recruiters Must Take Responsibility as Gatekeepers for Driving Diverse Hires

Gary Stolkin is global chairman and CEO of The Talent Business. Here, Gary discusses how diversity fuels innovation and creativity, and the role of recruiters as gatekeepers driving diverse hires. 


Executive search firms have paid lip service to the importance of Diversity & Inclusion, but as gatekeepers for leadership and senior hires, they’ve done little to drive change in their own behaviours or those of their clients. At best they have been advocates, but they have failed to leverage their unique position as gatekeepers to become activists who drive more diverse hires.

The irony, of course, is that now more than ever before, diversity fuels innovation and creativity, the key drivers of business transformation and commercial success. Diversity & Inclusion are not just a moral imperative, they are a business imperative as well.

This year The Talent Business has moved from advocacy to a more activist approach, by putting Diversity and Inclusion at the heart of our process, and enhancing how we support our clients, so they can play their part in driving sustainable cultural change. We are holding ourselves and our clients accountable to driving cultural change in both the way in which senior hires are made, but critically, how those hires are set up for success. We do not underestimate the challenges that this involves. An activist approach seeks to undo behaviours that represent the cumulative affect of decades of systemic racism within society as a whole, and within the creative industries.

There are a number of additional practices that The Talent Business has adopted to ensure that the businesses we partner are optimally placed to hire diverse talent with the requisite skills, and that those critical hires thrive, impact business and stay long term.  

Whilst technology plays an important part in what recruiters do, in our experience, automation is the enemy of Diversity & Inclusion. This applies to both technical automation, where keyword search and algorithms serve to reinforce bias, and practical automation where there is a default to established processes while hoping for new outcomes. Executive search firms (and recruiters in general) need to move towards a high touch process that delivers an employer brand experience that will attract and secure diverse talent. They also need to prescribe measures to ensure that their clients set BIPOC hires up for success.  So many diverse hires fail because people were expected to adapt themselves to fit into the existing norm. There has been a failure to recognise that inclusion is not the same as assimilation.

Success in activating the changes required will be predicated on the understanding that an inclusive recruitment process starts as early as the writing of a company mission statement or a job description, and continues throughout the entirety of the hiring process and beyond.

And let’s not forget that BIPOC candidates are understandably sceptical. Recruiters and their clients will need to evidence a clear advocacy strategy grounded in a deep understanding of the role and the business, so that commitment to Diversity & Inclusion goes beyond the current news cycle.  


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