What Are The Key DEI Leadership Skills?

A few months ago, I went to visit my 20-year-old cousin in North Carolina. He’s currently enrolled in college and starting to figure out what the rest of his career might be. As we ate our burgers, he asked me about how I began Three Ears Media. We talked about work, and he asked a simple question: “Who did you learn how to write job postings from?” 

What’s funny about that question is that I’m rarely asked this by customers that hire me. But, in fairness, I think I’ve proven my expertise in the webinars and training I’ve done. Ask me anything about job postings. I know my shit. But three years ago, when I started this company and business line, I knew nothing about job postings.

I only wrote a handful of job postings in my previous roles, there was no course to take, and most of the articles just regurgitated common sense things like, “don’t use company jargon.” No shit, people. That was easy enough to figure out. 

What wasn’t easy to figure out was how things worked. What questions to ask. It wasn’t easy to figure out how to create standardization across every industry when so much about hiring is unpredictable.

“I learned by writing a few hundred job postings for free,” I said. “Do the work. You know how to do the work after.” He laughed and said, “So why did I go to college again?” 

I wouldn’t dare tell him three years in that it probably wouldn’t help in his career. He’s gone too far, and my Aunt would kill me. 

How Do You Learn To Be A DEI Expert? 

You can’t go in and “do” DEI leadership a few hundred times for free to learn – not a good business plan. But what are the DEI leadership skills you must have to be a DEI leader? 

I was forced to answer this question while writing job postings for a new customer. The team is comprised of 4 roles – the Director of DEI, a manager, and two junior associates. As we talked through the junior roles and their goals, I realized I’ve never written this job posting before. In all my years doing this, I’ve never even seen an entry-level DEI role. 

I have written job postings for everything from truck drivers to forest electricians and everything in between. A *lot* of job postings. But junior level DEI roles have never been one of them. Why? 

Funding is the short answer, but the moment left me with many questions and, frankly, answers to the problems that keep coming up. 

Of course we have issues with equity, inclusion, and belonging. No one was taught how to do it well in the first place. If you learn by doing, as I did with job postings, where are DEI leaders supposed to learn these skills? 

In most cases, it appears that people learn by having bad experiences and trying to make it better for the person behind them. Sacrificing their soul and mental health to make sure no one has to feel that way. But it shouldn’t be that way. 

Community Feedback: What Are The Key DEI Leadership Skills You Need to Have? 

The consequence of this lack of career pipeline is that we don’t have a standard skill set. It’s the same thing that happens when you ask Finance teams to lead HR without any experience – there’s just a lot left to be desired. 

So what are the credentials a DEI leader should have? Maybe they shouldn’t be finance leaders. But who is qualified if there’s no career pipeline? Even more so, what skills should these leaders have to be successful? 

I started the conversation on Twitter, and here’s what a bunch of my smart friends said: 

What would you add? Post your ideas as a comment below. 

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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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