Recruiting a Diverse Team: Q&A with HireTalent’s Founder Ashish Kaushal

One of the top issues corporate America currently faces is heterogeneous recruitment. Diversity reports and census results have proven that the ethnic foundation comprising the U.S. workforce is rapidly changing. Demographic research is pressuring employers to identify the financial gains and strengths of hiring a diverse team.

I met with a New York based staffing agency and recruiting firm HireTalent to learn more. HireTalent specializes in diverse recruiting and founder Ashish Kaushal explained to me the many aspects of multifarious hiring along with his thoughts on the industry and what’s to come.

Welinder: How was HireTalent founded and why?

Kaushal: “I’m a first-generation Indian American and started HireTalent in 1997. The idea was to build an organization that focused on helping businesses expand their diversity footprint. Since we opted for this belief ourselves, we had to live and breathe it as well. We’ve always hired people from different ethnic, religious, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic standings, because we aim to build relationships with various communities and to promote diversity of thought internally.”

Welinder: How do you and your team approach recruiting and find the best employees for a company?

Kaushal: “We’ll do everything from searching online sites to meeting up with various groups, attending diversity events, and hosting training classes (on how to write your resume and interview well). We always seek to add value not just to the client but also with the people that we’re looking to recruit. So we’ll invite both sides to events such as these and do all that we can to get out there and constantly meet new people.”

Welinder: Why should a company use HireTalent? Why seek outside help rather than using an internal hiring team?

Kaushal: “There’s two ways to answer that. One is that as a company you always want to focus on what you’ve already got. By using a specialist for certain business areas, you’re proven to find and bring in better talent than what you’d find by yourself. Two, companies generally don’t have the bandwidth to handle the volume of people that they need to hire, so we’re a supplement. We augment an internal team on their behalf.”

Welinder: What separates you from other recruiting agencies?

Kaushal: “We specialize in diverse recruiting. We’re acutely aware that one of the most efficient ways to bring fresh ideas and new concepts into an organization is by creating a heterogeneous workforce.”

Welinder: Have you witnessed an increase in diverse hiring?

Kaushal: “Yes, absolutely. There’s an interest and increase; however, the problem is that as much as clients want to hire diverse candidates, their recruiters tend to only hire people that they know and those who represent what they’re familiar with. It’s all about educating managers on how to truly expand their perspectives on hiring. Another movement has been the government mandate on diversity of spend, which means that we must make companies understand the difference between simply hiring an ethnic minority and leveraging a diverse firm against the cultural impact that such hiring practices can have on the company itself and the community. The more information that’s out there, the faster we will learn and change.”

Welinder: Have any of your recruiting methods changed since you first began running the company?

Kaushal: “I’ve seen more and more that you have to culturally align and become a good fit for the client that you’re working with. Whether it’s who you’re looking to hire or who you’re working with (the client/company), you have to be able to see eye to eye; otherwise it’s going to be a difficult process. You’ll have egg on your face if something isn’t a match and goes wrong!”

Welinder: What are some of the greatest challenges that you and the company have faced?

Kaushal: “The greatest challenges are often industry attitudes. It’s companies thinking of staffing as a commodity. There’re over 8,000 hiring firms just in NYC, so clients feel like they can buy from anybody and that all the services are the same, but they’re not. So that’s where our internal diversity angle separates us from the crowd. For example, one of our employees, Kim, is a doctor from Jamaica, and she’s leading our healthcare practice. We know that it’s vital to put subject-matter experts into the various fields that we’re supporting instead of stretching our staff thin to cover different industries such as HR, healthcare, and technology simultaneously.

Without experts, you’re left with staff covering areas where no one knows exactly what they’re doing. By hiring specialists who have decided to work on the people side of the industry they’re plenty familiar with, we’re able to provide higher-caliber candidates through superior screening. We follow this practice with our recruiters as well. So the challenge is that a lot of clients think all hiring firms provide the same service on the same level, which simply isn’t true. We work hard to make them aware of this.”

Welinder: What do you wish you’d known or learned earlier in business?

Kaushal: “A lot of the time at staffing firms we’re so focused on helping clients find the best people that we don’t take time for our own teams. I’ve now switched to being much more particular about the people we bring on board. I’ve learned that we must spend the same amount of time on acquiring our own employees and talent, invest the same effort on our internal processes, as we do externally. It’s about taking good care of your staff, which provides the best atmosphere at work. This in turn increases productivity and boosts morale in the office.”

Welinder: Based on everything you’ve learned, what special insight do you share with your employees?

Kaushal: “You give what you get. All interactions go both ways with my employees: There’s a two-way street. We welcome the environment where we can challenge each other. No levels or layers, we just want to hear anyone and everyone’s ideas.”

Welinder: Where do you see the company in the next year? What are your goals?

Kaushal: “A hundred percent increase in clients served, meaning we intend to double our results. We’re focusing on building different business lines like the healthcare practice that we currently have and want to increase the different markets that we cover. We’re aiming for more streamlined verticals.”

Welinder: Anything you’d like to add?

Kaushal: “Staffing agencies tend to get a really bad rap. I believe our team does not represent your average staffing company. HireTalent is comprised of quality, hardworking, versatile individuals. Too many firms provide inadequate service: be it in their ethical practices or simply their singular focus on the numbers. We’re quality-driven; we’re passionate about elevating the clients and candidates that we work with. And I like to think that makes us an outlier.”


Authored by Shelby Welinder for Home Business Magazine