In the last year, companies across the globe have been grappling with not only the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but ongoing company-wide conversations about their hiring approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). While conversations around DE&I have been at the forefront of recruiting for decades, the last year has put these conversations at center stage. Companies are setting DEI as top priority in the wake of ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, anti-Asian American hate crimes, and broader conversations about inequity in the unequal impacts of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, companies are in the spotlight on how they address DEI hiring and initiatives.
Yet, it isn’t enough to just look for a diverse candidate pool on the surface, whether it be by gender, race, ethnicity, or more. Instead, companies should also include looking at age, class, and lived experiences in their recruiting and companywide DE&I efforts. These strategies are outlined in a July 2021 piece in the Harvard Business Review by Noa Gafni, Executive Director of the Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation, “Do Your DE&I Efforts Consider Age, Class, and Lived Experience?”.
Below are recommendation highlights from Gafni to consider in your DE&I recruiting efforts:
One in four workers above the age of 45 or over, according to a study by AARP, are negatively impacted by their age in the hiring process whether unconsciously or subconsciously. In addition, young employees are often left out of leadership roles or opportunities for advancement. To counteract these biases, create systems for hiring were you make clear that no matter someone’s age they have connection to decisionmakers at your company and offer mentorship programs for new employees. In addition, look to recruiting outside of the traditional four-year college, and instead look to recruiting directly from community colleges where their student demographic is wider.
Gafni stresses that building more equitable and diverse workforce requires companies to hire those from a broad socioeconomic background. If you’re only recruiting from top colleges, recent studies show that students from Ivy League colleges primarily come from the top 1 percent of the income distribution. While those from lower to middle class backgrounds often attend less selective schools. For many minorities, first generation, low-income students they are often working more than one job, taking care of family members, or supporting themselves through school without an opportunity to have an internship on top of their responsibilities. As Gafni notes, “In order to broaden the socioeconomic range of those who can apply to jobs and diversify workforces, we need to be able to address the systemic ways we’re making it impossible for students to do so if they come from a low-income background.”
In your recruiting efforts, go beyond just the top schools and cities to look for the “ideal candidate.” This means:
- Working with career services offices at public universities and community colleges, HBCUs, and even Tribally Controlled Colleges;
- Removing hiring processes that only look at prestigious schools;
- Value work experiences the same as an internship experience to hone in on someone’s work ethic over a prestigious internship that a student may have not been able to afford to take unpaid, and look at what skills a student has to offer on their resume, rather than where they came from; and finally
- Prioritize meet and greets with students who may not traditionally had access to networking due to their lack of family connections whether that be first generation students or candidates from a less prestigious university.
“Disrupting our way of thinking about ‘experience’ generally can help ensure that we do not discount the added value of someone’s personal experience with the problems at hand,” says Gafni. “Diversity efforts can fail when we don’t do this by assuming that only those with brand name associations have solutions to an organization’s biggest problems.” In addressing overall diversity issues within companies, recruiting efforts should turn to broadening definitions of what “experience” looks like.
Recruiters can expand their diversity recruiting efforts by asking candidates about issues they are passionate about, creating pathways for leadership within your organization, and removing mandatory “years of experience” where possible to instead look at a candidate holistically. This expands the definition of knowledge in job candidates versus just traditional qualifications that often leave out high-quality candidates out of the loop.
By looking at recruiting through these lenses, will enable companies to drive the diversity narrative forward and benefit a company's overall culture leading to overall company success.
With 1.4M+ students being reached every day, Symplicity Recruit empowers employers to find the right candidate on their own terms and adapt to the changing employment landscape with a focus on broad diversity hiring initiatives. On Recruit, companies can build a path towards positive outcomes to increase connections with students by building trust, enhancing company branding, integrated workflows, increase the number of employers and opportunities, and, finally, enhance the recruiting experience for everyone.
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