As a woman of color in Corporate America, Kenida Lewis knows firsthand the complacencies when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As an executive with more than 15 years of experience in talent acquisition and recruiting strategies, she understands the deep dynamics of diversity and inclusion and why it is so important in the workplace, especially at the leadership levels.
We spoke with Lewis, the founder of the Principal of Talent Acquisition for the consulting firm The Adinek Group, to get her thoughts on sourcing diverse talent and what she looks for in diverse talent.
If you ask Lewis, diversity, and inclusion are important, no matter the position, whether entry-level or C-suite and it extends beyond ethnicity or racial backgrounds. “Diversity includes thinking, style, age, geographical location, education, or a discipline that you studied in school,” Lewis said, “and all of those different perspectives are very important when you are building a team.”
When it comes to finding diverse talent, frankly, Lewis seeks individuals who are considered the industry’s best and have a passion for what they do, they must also be team players. There is no exception to these rules.
Lewis further elaborates that the best organization may not be the best at another organization. “Everyone isn’t the perfect fit for every company. We’re looking for the best dynamic that fits the company’s culture.” Lewis also mentions that prospective employers across industries seek candidates with a diverse career history. In addition, volunteer and extracurricular activities are looked upon favorably.
So, why all this fuss about diversity and inclusion? Lewis explains the benefits to diverse thinking styles within the following analogy: “A corporation needs various departments to be sustainable. HR, Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Talent and so on. It is an ecosystem of sorts and these different entities are working together, and this is what it takes to make a viable business. You couldn’t run a company full of just HR departments. The same concept applies to the people that comprise an organization.
Lewis’s passion for talent acquisition grew from her early days at a staffing firm, now known as Adecco. After years in leadership roles honing her skills and building a solid network, she branched on her own to launch the Adinek Group in 2020.
“I wanted to utilize some of my networks to get creative and fill more seats at the table with people of color,” Lewis said. “It’s not lack of talent when it comes to people of color; it’s lack of opportunity.”
The Adinek Group’s primary focus is finding highly collaborative leaders with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles. The firm has been instrumental in building out key roles and executing talent acquisition strategies for manufacturing, consumer goods, and financial industries. They also provide ongoing support in the form of career and professional development resources to candidates once they’ve been placed in a position.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we’re placing leaders of color in dynamic roles to be able to drive innovation,” Lewis said. “in addition to our mission being to find the best talent specifically diverse or people of color for critical leadership roles, we also want to follow their career and help them grow.
It is no secret that there are inefficiencies of a team lacking in diversity and inclusion. It just doesn’t work, at least not as good as it could or should, depending on whom you ask. Having diverse business operations, Lewis feels is just good all the way around. “it’s good for business, it’s good for the economy, and also it is the right thing to do.”