5 Strategies for Effective Diversity Recruitment
America has a hiring problem. National unemployment has ascended to levels not seen since the Great Depression and anti-Black racism has once again forced itself to the forefront of national conversation. Businesses are struggling to perform corporate social responsibility in the age of social media, and tough questions are being asked of executive teams. Chief among them? “How can our company show support to the Black community?”
Donations and public confirmations of allyship seem like simple solutions to complex problems. They can also fall flat, calling more attention to discriminatory hiring practices. An independent study by The Plug showed that of over 50 companies that released statements of support for the Black community in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, those same companies averaged a 6% Black workforce.
How can your company show support? You can start to actually hire Black people (and other people of color). Here’s how:
1. Stop relying on referrals
While employee referrals can be a quick and collaborative way to bring talent into an organization, they’ll also ensure a homogeneous team. Despite well-meaning legislation borne of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the majority of US neighborhoods and school systems remain racially segregated. This naturally extends to the average American’s social network; men are more likely to refer men, and whites are more likely to refer whites.
2. Focus on competency-based interviewing
As a recruiter, I’m used to soliciting, aggregating, and analyzing interview feedback. An efficient interview process frames each stage as an opportunity to drill into specific competencies (like the ones found on Lominger’s list), rather than on soft skills or nebulous ideas of “culture fit.” It’s important to remove the personal aspect from an interview, which is meant to be about skill, experience, and motivation. Just say no to feedback that comes in the form of statements like “I wouldn’t want to get a drink with this person.” What does that actually mean?
3. Un-cliché your job descriptions
Are you still looking for rockstars, ninjas, gurus, and purple squirrels? You shouldn’t be. In 2020, the language we use to talk about work has evolved. We’re asking candidates their pronouns, not whether or not they’re ready to “work hard, play hard.” Studies have shown the effects of biased language in job descriptions — they deter marginalized groups from clicking “Submit Application.”
4. Expand your horizons
Does your ideal candidate have a degree from an Ivy League institution? Why is that? Even though companies like Google and Apple have eliminated degree requirements from their job descriptions, others still cling to increasingly antiquated ideas of “qualification.” My college degree says very little about my ability to recruit talent and more about the level of access to higher education I was granted as a result of privilege. Let’s stop prioritizing privilege as a determinant of job readiness.
5. Walk the walk
Unfortunately, not every company has a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) team fully staffed and empowered to drive organizational change. However, there are other ways to publicize a commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Blog posts, diversity statements, and published internal employee demographic information can go a long way in attracting the candidates who have historically been made to feel they didn’t belong.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution that solves hiring discrimination, or an organizational role model to look to for the most effective best practices. On the ground, DEI practitioners are crafting initiatives to serve populations left heretofore unserved, working to answer questions that have never been asked. I cannot guarantee the steps outlined above will magically make your organization equitable, but at a time where over 40 million Americans are unemployed and Black unemployment hovers above 50%, action speaks louder than PR. Companies who fail to address these cultural deficits will lose the war for talent that’s only becoming more competitive.