5 TED Talks About Diversity and Hiring That Will Spark Your Mind

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HR has a reputation for being super into diversity.

Far from being a negative stereotype, favoring diversity is fantastic. We know that a diverse workplace outperforms a homogenous one by 35%. Diverse environments not only improve a company’s profit, they also make us smarter. Diversity in the workplace is a deciding factor—of course HR is crazy about it!

Diversity and Hiring

To get you thinking, I’ve rounded up my favorite five TED Talks on the topic of diversity to get you closer to the salad bowl you want.

1: Marilyn Sanders Mobley: The Paradox of Diversity

“Diversity is our unfinished business.”

In this Ted Talk, the VP for Inclusion and Diversity at Case Western Reserve University examines how people can miss intersections of identity by focusing too much on a single aspect of diversity. She examines how societies and mentorships created by and for marginalized groups can create a sense of community and use that feeling to thrive and achieve more.

For HR managers, you should take away a sense of intentionality and goal re-framing in your diversity outreach. Diversity is not a goal that can necessarily be achieved with quotas. In fact, it’s not really a goal that can be “achieved” in the traditional sense at all (in fact, most talent management software doesn’t have a function for it). Rather, it’s something that we should always continue to strive for and work towards improving, because no matter how good it is, it could be better.

2: Regina Hartley: Why The Best Hire Might Not Have A Perfect Resume

“In spite of everything and against tremendous odds, they succeeded.”

UPS’s HR manager Regina Hartley presents you with two job applicants: the silver spoon and the scrapper. One candidate has always done well, but comes from a place of privilege where they were afforded more opportunities. The other has done well in spite of facing hardships. Hartley explains why you should go for the scrapper, and why some people are who they are because of the adversity they faced, and why this makes them the ideal hire.

Regina Hartley is passionate about this because she was a scrapper. Looking at how far she’s come in the world, from a difficult childhood to managing HR for all of UPS, is a strong reminder of the good that can come if hiring managers give the less-than-perfect candidate a chance.

3: Pellegrino Riccardi: Cross Cultural Communication

“We’ve got different ideas of what is accepted and familiar.”

Cultural difference underlie many of the behaviors we display every day. Pellegrino Riccardi—born to Italian parents, raised in Great Britain, living in Norway—works as a cultural translator, explaining the cultural reasons why people act the way they do. He explains how to bridge cultural gaps to find greater diversity and success in life and in the business world.

If your business is looking into expanding, overseas, across borders, or by taking on international candidates at the home office, understanding these cultural gaps and differences is critical. Riccardi approaches the issue with a sense of humor and optimism that will prove inspiring for anyone working through cross-cultural hiring difficulties.

4: Morgana Bailey: The Danger of Hiding Who You Are

“Hiding is a progressive habit, and once you start hiding, it becomes harder and harder to step forward and speak out.”

Silence is compliance. Morgana Bailey, Vice President of Human Resources at financial services firm State Street Corp, talks about how hiding who you are and what makes you different can make your workplace less diverse, and how it contributes to an atmosphere of non-inclusion. Because if you never speak up, you will never help make the world a better place for others like you.


HR professionals have several takeaways here. The first is in being welcoming enough that others feel comfortable existing as their authentic selves in the spaces you create. The other is in being brave enough to be your own authentic self. Though it seems small, authenticity helps others who may be feeling alone and in hiding.

5: Helen Turnbull: Inclusion, Exclusion, Illusion, and Collusion

“The unchallenged brain is not worth trusting”

We are more empathetic to those in our ingroups than outside of them. This can lead us to have blind spots in our thinking, places where stereotypes lurk, in places of our minds that we may not even be aware of. How can you find these spots, and can you combat them? Helen Turnbull, CEO if Human Facets, examines what makes us treat others differently and the ways we can break down these implicit biases.

Overcoming one’s own implicit biases are key to effectively hiring and managing. The first step is recognizing a bias might exist, and then rooting it out and seeking a source of said bias so that you can begin the process of changing your thinking. In this initial discovery process, Turnbull’s talk offers insight and comfort. After all, even diversity experts sometimes have biased thoughts—what matters is how they combat them.

Takeaways From Diversity TED Talks?

Thoughts? Did you learn something new, or did these talks spark a great idea? Do you have other HR or diversity-related TED Talks you can recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

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About the Author


Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.



I enjoyed Helen Turnbull’s honesty and insight into the idea that each of us has an unconscious bias and that we can learn to overcome that bias if we choose to do so. This concept is refreshing in comparison to the belief that others have a bias to be corrected but I do not.

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