Denielle Pemberton-Heard

Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills: How to Recruit with DE&I in Mind, with Denielle Pemberton-Heard, CLO and managing director of Diversified Search Group

This week on Left to Our Own Devices, Erica sits down with Denielle Pemberton-Heard, Chief Legal Officer and managing director at Diversified Search Group, a woman-founded search firm that recruits leadership through a DE&I lens. Denielle is the perfect person to chat with about leading in this moment. As part of an organization that prioritizes giving underrepresented people a seat at the table, Denielle shares that now more than ever, it’s important to prioritize this framework of recruiting, as we all figure out how to approach flex and the future of work. The hard skills are table stakes at this point. Organizations want leaders who are empathic, self-confident, self-aware, emotionally intelligent, resilient, and willing to lead. In other words, companies want leaders who have excellent soft skills, which is where DivSearch comes in. Denielle also highlights the importance of reaching out to ask for help, spending time in community, and finding grounding in simple rituals, like a twice-yearly phone call with an old friend or the simple joy of dance. This conversation with Denielle offers an inspired look at the future of work.


5:00 – on defining terms: “Diversity tells you who’s in the room. Inclusion tells you who feels welcome in the room. Equity is who has access to the room. And Justice is really about who in the room is taken seriously; who has their concerns heard.”

7:40 – on the types of leadership skills their clients want: “A level of empathy and compassion. Gravitas and a track record of a history of accomplishment. A willingness to lead and to speak up. Individuals who are centered in however they present themselves—and that’s just really having a level of self-confidence and awareness. A high EQ, someone that can read the room and thoughtfully pivot and make adjustments. And a level of resiliency. Especially if you’re really going to bring new voices to the table. People that perhaps may have been shut out or, for whatever reason, not given opportunities. You really see what people are made of when you take the time to listen to their story, and you understand the level of resilience that it takes for certain people to achieve the level of accomplishment that individuals do.”

16:23 – “Covid has given us a bit more permission to understand that life can be imperfect and confusing and complicated, and we’ve all gone through a really scary time.”

17:02 – “We do need to bring our human to work and be productive in a way that’s best for our own health.”

28:40 – “This next generation of leaders and workers are unapologetically themselves.”


Diversified Search Group website

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