Jun 19, 2022

Building on diversity progress within the ON community of executive leaders

As executive search consultants who partner with organizations to place C-level and board executives across a range of industries, we understand our responsibility in helping to shape what the future of business looks like.

As a group of non-conformists, we recognize that you can’t craft effective solutions using outdated methods and practices. So, we don’t have a “diversity practice” and we don’t partner with a diversity firm. We consider every search we undertake to be a diverse search, and every slate of candidates we present to our hiring clients is a diverse one.

It’s not something we discuss or call out as a must-have, it’s simply ingrained in our search process and consultation. We’re defying the historical institution of executive search to do it, but we wouldn’t be able to create solutions and deliver results to our clients if we did it any other way.

And the results speak for themselves. 40% of our executive appointments so far in 2022 have been diverse senior leaders.

Here, in our first half of 2022 talent report, we look at the diversity progress the ON community has made; how we’re increasing diverse hires in a sector that has been historically homogenous, technology; building more diverse boards; and we highlight diverse leaders we’ve recently placed.

Recognizing Progress in the ON Community – Recent Executive Appointments


Diverse Executive Talent Report

ON Partners consultants place a diverse group of senior executives with organizations across many market sectors. We are proud to collaborate with organizations that are committed to their DEI progress. Following are a few of the new diverse leaders we recently placed; click on the links to learn more about each of them:

Helen Davis, board director, Arrowstream

Ricki Sethi, CISO, build.com

Ted Satish Moorthy, CEO, Centricity

Michele Ave, GM, Columbia Sportswear

Nilesh Mohan, VP supply chain tech, GXO

Maria Calleja-Matsko, CIO, One Digital

Larry Yang, chief product officer, Phononic

Orla Daly, CIO, Skillsoft

Our Latest Diversity Survey Results 


We continue to actively listen to our community of leaders and executive influencers to better understand what actions they’re taking, where the challenges are, and how they’ve progressed in their DEI journey – to ultimately help them build more diverse organizations.

Industry leaders from the ON community – spanning private and public companies across multiple marketplace sectors including energy, sustainability & clean tech, private & growth equity, technology, consumer, life sciences, and industrial – continue to respond to our ongoing DEI survey. We’re sharing highlights of findings around initiatives that are underway, where the barriers are and who in our community is admired for their DEI initiatives and progress. We encourage you to complete the survey if you haven’t already done so.

With an average self-reported DEI success rating of 3.5 out of 5.0, survey respondents continue to recognize that while they are making progress, there is still work to be done.

Throughout 2021 and into this year, survey respondents identified a range of DEI initiatives underway in their organizations, including:

  • Employee engagement in employee resource groups (ERGs)
  • Increasingly diverse candidate slate
  • Consciousness programs for DEI education
  • DEI monthly meetings
  • Board diversity program
  • Compensation equity/financial review
  • Progressive annual plan including diversity hiring goals
  • Changing our culture to create more cross-functional collaboration

Barriers that recent survey respondents identified as hindering them from reaching their diversity goals include:

  • Access to candidates
  • Trying to balance time driving core business results with keeping team engaged in DEI initiatives
  • Attracting the right mix of people
  • Changing mindset
  • Executive-level focus/priority and alignment
  • Talent pipeline (tech, etc.)/attracting diverse talent
  • Education/changing culture, old practices: Reaching all levels of an organization, including the “frozen middle” (white, male managers), and making them willing to put the effort into shifting actions.

Barriers as described by respondents include:

“We’re still very small in headcount and are focused more now on a diversity of customers than anything else.”

“We continue to source for diverse candidates in all active searches. Available candidates – those who are interested in leaving their current employers – are limited.”

“Real acknowledgement and engagement that DEI is an issue. The Board and the senior team say the right thing but do not really act on it. (They) assume that hiring one woman in any role is enough and then go back to business as it used to be.”

“Support and buy-off from owners of the company. One site is in Guatemala and culturally they are still far behind in understanding the benefits of diversity, inclusion and equity especially as they support many US companies.”

“The predetermined notion that skill set should not be the first requirement for a position.”

“Not having enough diverse talent in the labor market with the technical skills we need. This is why our outreach effort is so important. We need to do a better job reaching young people to get them interested, excited and prepared for technology careers.”

“An important part is the education of others on the nuances of inclusion and how we can all play our parts thoughtfully. The more we address this within the workforce, the more evident it is that there are knowledge gaps at all levels of businesses.”

Our DEI Video Series


We created the DEI Video Series to recognize organizations and leaders in our community that have made great strides in building diverse leadership teams. Tapping into our community of leaders and executive influencers helps us understand what actions they are taking, where the challenges are, and how they have progressed in their DEI journey.

Our latest video features Benoit de la Tour, Navis CEO, and Sunaina Lobo, SVP and Chief People Officer, formerly with Navis, a global software company focused on the supply chain sector.

According to De la Tour, “There are three things all great teams have in common. They are diverse, they have a purpose, so people know why they’re here and what is expected from them, and they are safe because there is trust and open communication between people.”

Notes Lobo, “We started off just thinking about gender diversity…Women were underrepresented in the organization at 19% women in the workforce globally. But where we’ve evolved to now, our definition is much broader. Because we’re such a global company we want to leverage our cultural diversity. We’re also thinking about measuring underrepresented groups and have made significant strides in the last year, specifically focusing on the Back and Latinx communities.”

To view this video and the entire series, visit here.

Increasing Diverse Hires in Tech


Partner Jeff Hocking has made it a priority to increase the number of diverse leaders in tech, a sector that has long been dominated by white males. He understands the challenges associated with placing diverse candidates – and how to overcome them.

According to Jeff, “We approach every search with a commitment to presenting a client with a diverse candidate slate. We know that human nature is to gravitate toward people who are similar to each other, so we always skew heavily toward underrepresented, qualified candidates to ensure there is a diverse view of opportunities from the start.”

To learn more from Jeff about diverse hiring in the tech sector, visit here.

Building a More Diverse Board


Featured in the March/April issue of Board Leadership, partner Shawn Oglesbee’s article outlines how a volatile 2021 is impacting key decisions around building leadership teams. “Building a board team with the right mix of experience and perspectives has arguably never been more important to an organization’s success,” according to Shawn.

The article outlines how diversity, among other key issues, is a high priority for boards this year and is shaping their makeup.

Shawn notes that operating partners (OPs) can be an interesting way to build more diverse boards. When a PE firm hires an OP, he or she is likely to serve on the boards of multiple portfolio companies, so hiring a diverse candidate as an OP intrinsically creates several increasingly diverse boards.

About ON Partners

Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.

Untraditional by Choice. Original by Design. Since 2006.


If you want to create a new path – ON Partners knows how to help you get there.