Tomika Reed 08 June 2020
With the year 2020 demonstrating the civil unrest of Americans over the inequality faced by millions, the spotlight has squarely focused on business leaders and how they will show up and act on the endless posts, messaging, and letters they openly shared with their workforce and the American public. Don’t worry– supporting diversity has always been a good thing no matter what angle you choose to openly or secretly look at. Some people will attempt to shame you for not being invested in it for the same reasons as them, however I am more concerned with equality happening in corporations across America than what motivated you to work to achieve it. I am under the profoundly optimistic belief that once diversity is fully implemented the other heart pieces will subsequently follow.
Let’s talk about the benefits
From a human perspective, equality feels right and is long overdue. From a branding stand-point, in a highly competitive marketplace, it absolutely looks good to shareholders, employees, and top talent seeking new career opportunities. From a societal stand-point, more access to the job market for veterans, blacks and other minorities, as well as women provides an opportunity to break cycles of oppression, depression, and poverty. There has even been empirical evidence that shows a strong correlation between how access to employment lowers crime rates for youths and adults (Lageson & Uggen, 2013). We can all get behind safer streets, right? Additional research has supported that not only are consumers supporting purpose-driven brands, feel a deeper connection with these brands, but 78% of Americans would tell others to buy products from these companies and as many (73%) would share information or stories about that company (Cone, 2018). Diversity breeds innovation, so yes diversity in business is wonderful! Leaders have a unique opportunity to lead an initiative that can effectively change the history of not only corporate America but the way in which diversity is viewed in the history books written post 2020. So how do we recruit more diverse candidates? Glad you asked!
Diverse recruiting practices
1. Utilize social media & LinkedIn to engage, attract, & recruit. Be honest about your efforts to find a great diverse candidate, because you know it makes you and the world better. Share the role and track engagement.
2. Realistically adjust the job qualifications based on what the company needs. An applicant that is missing a non-essential skill or two is likely to be more loyal because you are investing in their growth. This saves you a significant amount of money over the employee’s career cycle. Skills can be taught. If I could learn binary code, they can learn MS Excel, promise.
3. Look for non-traditional learners. HBCU’S and online graduates are a breeding ground for diverse applicants. Veterans, minorities, and women that returned to college later in life or completed their degree more recently present an opportunity to align your organization with great talent. They had a driving motivation for change and great resiliency and still have tangible knowledge versus someone who graduated from Harvard 20 plus years ago. Additionally, most of these organizations welcome, at no cost, the opportunity to align with a forward-thinking organization that can help employ their members. They can be easy allies in the fight for equality in corporate America.
4. Don’t become obsessed with candidates that have employment gaps, especially if they can be explained. Women and minorities are more likely to have employment gaps due to family obligations, responsibilities, etc. Be the human and at least hear them out.
5. Provide “in training” offer letters. A candidate may not have all the skills you want now, but you know if they skill up in 6 months to a year you would definitely back them for a hire position. Offering the in-training contingency provides stipulations of x being accomplished and that person earning the role after the introductory period. I can personally attest that this contingency allowed this diverse candidate to catapult her title, earnings, and career profile significantly.
6. Ask your staff for referrals. Hopefully, you have diverse leaders or future leaders on your staff. Leverage them and their network and incentivize this action. Most people are only going to recommend outstanding candidates and it is a bonus moment where you can be transparent surrounding the struggles of diversifying staff and how the organization is dedicated to this initiative.
7. Launch virtual career fairs and accept resumes. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are not human. Take the opportunity to take resumes and be humane. This provides an opportunity to engage with potential applicants and if nothing else, it does help demystify the black hole hiring process represented by the ATS.
8. Organize nontraditional internship opportunities – not just for college students. This allows those stuck in dead-end non-advancement opportunities at other organizations an opportunity to flexibly immerse themselves in your organization, learn the culture, and gather or hone skills
9. Partner with veterans, women, LGBTQIA, and minority organizations. Be the first organization they think of when they have a member that is looking for employment opportunities.
10. Be transparent. Add videos for resume writing, employee interviews, and ways that applicants can improve their chances of hire. Keep the public informed of your objectives and your progress and keep going. Don’t stop.
Lastly, don’t forget to evaluate and measure your success using the D&I metrics:
• Percentage of diverse candidates at each recruiting stage
• Percentage of minorities at different levels in your organization before and after the initiative implementation
• Employee satisfaction score in terms of D&I
• Retention rate among diverse employee groups
• Career longevity rates among minorities, women, vets, and those from the LGBTQIA community
• media/ recognitions from special interest from market peers and advocacy groups for your D&I efforts
As businesses re-think the health of our nation & open after Covid-19, let’s re-think diversity and open up equality in our workplace. Let’s return to work fully healthy –stronger, smarter and more diverse.
Cone communications. (2018). Americans more loyal and willing to defend purpose-driven brands, according to new research by Cone. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/americans-more-loyal-and-willing-to-defend-purpose-driven-brands-according-to-new-research-by-cone-300656014.html
Lageson, S. & Uggen, C. (2013). How work affects crime and crime affects work over the life course. Retrieved from http://users.soc.umn.edu/~uggen/Lageson_Uggen_Handbook_12.pdf