Ken R. Taunton was surprised at the lack of diversity in the slate of candidates in his work with an international executive search firm early in his career. Motivated to recruit and identify people of color for executive-level positions, he founded The Royster Group in 2001, focusing on diversity recruiting.
Today, Taunton is recognized as a leader in DE&I, both as the founder, president and CEO of a minority-owned business and as an influencer throughout the staffing industry. He is a board member for the American Staffing Association, and in 2020, he was instrumental in leading the ASA Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Advocacy Group Council. The group provides information, resources and guidance to help the staffing industry increase diversity within their workforces and their clients.
“I believe DE&I provides employees with more job satisfaction and engagement,” Taunton says. “A diverse and inclusive workforce helps everyone enjoy going to work, no matter who they are, and they can feel equally involved in supporting the organization’s mission and vision.”
Taunton is also on the board of directors for the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, which certifies diversity-owned businesses to work with corporate clients.
“We are one of the well-known associations that Fortune 1000 companies engage with to identify minority suppliers,” he says. “Many corporations want to be recognized as participating in the social responsibility ecosystem. Their procurement spends with diverse organizations allows them to capture that stance among their suppliers.”
He advises other companies that want to embrace DE&I as part of their culture to make a conscious effort. “It takes a plan and overall strategy with measurable objectives, but you can’t just start overnight. I encourage having an experienced diversity consultant work with senior leadership and do a deep dive within their organizations. There’s a certain level of training and insight that comes with committing to an overall DE&I strategy.”
2021 DE&I Influencers List