HFA’s DE&I Committee

Our team at Howard Fischer Associates has long touted the benefits of diversity, working closely with our clients to help them strategically recruit and hire diverse candidates who will make an impact.

Similarly, we’ve prioritized efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion and initiate conversations within our own organization. We recently brought together a group of employees to organize and grow our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) committee.

Below, committee members Elisa Dolan and Jamal Elmidge share more about the DE&I Committee’s purpose and evolution.

The Background

As we reflect on the events of 2020 and 2021, and the effect it has had on our employees, clients, and candidates, we realize there is much more be done to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. We are fortunate to work in a profession that allows us to help well-intentioned companies meet and hire exceptional and diverse business leaders. Observing our nation’s current climate, we knew that we could do more to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive company culture, even within our already diverse team. It’s easy to make a statement about commitment to diversity, but we wanted to take real action.

We created a DE&I Committee comprised of voluntary members from every level within our firm, representing different races, religions, ages, etc. The committee’s mission is to drive an open culture that embraces and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, both internally at HFA and externally with our clients, candidates, and the broader community. This means:

  • Improving diversity at every level of our HFA family
  • Partnering with clients to enhance diversity efforts and provide them with solutions to achieve their diversity aspirations
  • Leveraging strategic partnerships to help cultivate a diverse pipeline of talent for our clients
  • Participating and investing in organizations where we work and live that prioritize and champion DE&I

Our Progress

Our DE&I committee has already made a significant impact. Every month it curates and circulates an internal DE&I monthly newsletter. It also dedicates time during HFA all-hands staff meetings for DE&I discussion on current events, concerns, and best practices.

Additionally, the committee is focused on creating standard diversity guidelines for business development, search execution, and ongoing client consultation. This includes evaluating various training courses by HFA researchers on external diversity and rolling out these trainings and knowledge across the firm.

A highlight that we have noticed from the DE&I Committee is how close our offices are able to work from coast-to-coast on this effort. Instead of being siloed, especially with remote work, in four different offices from the East Coast to the West Coast, our committee has fostered a greater sense of community among our team.

HFA is in a unique position to help well-intentioned companies  seek diverse candidates and to demonstrate their commitment to diversity. We have also implemented strategies to enable companies to achieve diversity aspirations.

Sub-committees now address internal best practices that can then be shared with clients as they start their searches. The committee has also implemented a detailed tracking system of diversity metrics for candidates and placements to evaluate progress and address potential gaps.

Moving Forward

DE&I is a journey, not a destination, and one of the aspects about which everyone on the committee agrees is maintaining momentum, constantly evolving, and achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and within our clients’ organizations.

The committee continues to ask itself, “Do we represent what we’re talking about?” It’s essential to the committee, and HFA as a whole, to focus on bringing in great people and the ability to make opportunistic hires in the absence of an open position. And while time can be a barrier to improving diversity, our committee is continually learning, evolving paths, and committing to external succession planning to meet diversity goals.

Since its inception, the DE&I committee has met with other organizations on both a local and national level to educate each other mutually. The committee is focused on developing relationships with these professional and community organizations and cultivating existing relationships to prioritize and champion DE&I and help nurture a diverse pipeline of talent internally and for our clients. The committee has implemented best practices it’s learned into an overall mission so that everyone can keep moving forward.

DE&I is a moving target, and research, compassion, understanding, and knowledge go a long way in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. We look forward to continued progress and finding additional ways to support and grow our commitment to diversity, while helping our clients to do the same.