Cross-industry hiring is the way to go

Diversity in an organisation does not only cover gender, religious or colour diversity, but also employee diversity, in terms of their expertise, strength areas, as well as experience in industries and domains.

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In sports, teams are focussed on a common goal, which is to win the game. But the interesting part of the whole process is, the team comprises members who are all different from each other, in terms of language, religion, region or skill sets. Each member of the team is utilised to accomplish that one goal, that is, victory. Similarly, organisations need a diverse workforce to achieve their objectives. Diversity should not be restricted to gender, religion or colour alone. The organisation should have employees who have experience of working in different fields, industries and domains. This is what really adds to the diversity of an organisation.

When an organisation has resources coming in from different industries and fields, it gets to see and experience different perspectives, which it may not have been aware of or ever really realised the existence of earlier. “There is a very big blind spot that exists today in the organisations. We need to bring in those people who can provide us with different perspectives in the company and we need to keep this thing in mind while hiring,” says Jayanthi Gopal, vice president and country head – human resources, State Street India.

There are many other advantages of cross-industry hiring, which adds value to an organisation. As described by Emmanuel David, director – Tata Management Training Centre, Tata Group, cross-industry hiring creates a workforce which is diverse and consists of people possessing a combination of skills. This helps build a unique pool of talent in an organisation. It also adds innovation to an organisation, with people pitching in new ideas and bringing new perspectives to the table. “If I am recruiting a person who may not have any knowledge about HR, but instead has knowledge of economics and business, that person will add a different kind of approach and perspective to the role,” shares David.

Emmanuel David

“I have worked in different industries and people across all levels and departments trust me. They chat with me and share various issues and matters related to work.”

David also mentions that those who have worked across industries will carry with them vast knowledge, which will create a trust factor around them. “I have worked in different industries and people across all levels and departments trust me. They chat with me and share various issues and matters related to work,” says David.

While cross-industry hiring can really add different colours to an organisation, there are issues that need to be addressed while recruiting from a different industry.

The newly-appointed employees should be provided a well-equipped ecosystem where they can learn and gain knowledge using the proper tools. “We should inform the existing teams about the new recruits well in advance and arrange for mentors to guide them through the new industry,” opines David. “The responsibility of settling in a leader lies on both the sides of the coin, the organisation as well as the individual. In our company, we run a programme called ‘ZAP’ which has two parts. First is the geographical part of the business, where the person is run through the geographical nuances of the business, and second is the operational part of the business. On the other hand, the individual has to be flexible and a fast learner to be able to fit into the organisation quickly,” suggests Paramjit Singh, CHRO & member EXCO, Apollo Munich Health Insurance.

Jayanthi Gopal

“ Sometimes, cross- industry hiring in a leadership role can be a gamble, because if the person does not fit into the company it may affect the organisation across all levels, and companies do not like to take risks with their leadership roles.”

In case of leadership roles, companies need to strategise the hiring from a different industry. They need to consider their long-term goals while hiring. Nestle, for instance, hired Ulf Mark Schneider who comes from the healthcare industry. But Nestle wanted to focus on producing products which are tasty and at the same time healthy for the consumers. “ Sometimes, cross- industry hiring in a leadership role can be a gamble, because if the person does not fit into the company it may affect the organisation across all levels, and companies do not like to take risks with their leadership roles,” shares Gopal.

There are also some specific roles, which cannot be compromised in cross-industry hiring. “There are roles in a company where you need experts, for which you need to recruit people from the same industry or a similar industry. For instance, for the role of head of underwriting in an insurance company, a specialist is a must, for which we cannot seek somebody from outside the industry,” mentions Singh.

Paramjit Singh

“There are roles in a company where you need experts, for which you need to recruit people from the same industry or a similar industry. For instance, for the role of head of underwriting in an insurance company, a specialist is a must, for which we cannot seek somebody from outside the industry.”

Cross-industry hiring can produce great results for organisations. No wonder it is on the rise. Organisations cannot work on the principle of hiring people from the same industry as it will create a monoculture, with the workforce comprising people of a similar kind. Cross-industry hiring helps organisations grow at a faster pace and adjust to the new techniques of performing business.

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