In the wake of the inauguration, tension and uncertainty are at an all-time high. People of color, women and other minorities are convinced their opportunities to work and fulfill their goals will become more limited. In this chaotic and fear-filled environment, it is absolutely crucial for individual companies to define their employer brand and make a bold statement. By clearly establishing yourself as inclusive, you give your current employees a sense of security, while giving prospective candidates incentive to work for you.
Beyond the obvious social benefits diversity brings to your team, it can propel your business in a number of ways. Studies noted better problem-solving and innovation in companies with greater diversity in gender and race.
So what are some direct actions you can take?
Many tech companies are habitually drawing from talent pools like Harvard and MIT. And while this may provide quality candidates on a regular basis, it is an incredibly limiting practice that benefits neither the company nor those gunning for tech positions. If you truly believe in the power of diversity to strengthen your organization, branching out to other university talent pools is a must.
Tapping into new networks at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is one way to level the playing field and ensure your candidates aren’t just coming from the few wealthiest universities in the nation. Instead of scrounging for diversity from a confined socioeconomic group, find diversity naturally by sourcing genuine talent from new schools.
Companies are increasingly relying on internet-based recruiting methods like job boards. But one study revealed that “individual company career sites” (aka your own website) was the most common place for sourcing online talent. This method may produce decent results if you are well-established, but it requires candidates to come find you. A much more proactive approach (and one that will ensure greater diversity) is utilizing avenues like social media and online communities. You can reach out to candidates directly or simply build your brand so potential candidates get to know you. All demographics use social media. Thus, you can be sure you are making yourself available to a wider audience. Engaging and partnering online communities catering to a diverse audience can help to showcase your company and brand as inclusive. The Grad Spark is an online community for Black millennials in STEM and is actively seeking partnerships with universities and companies looking to diversify their talent pools.
Have you identified key team members of your organization who would be perfect for influencer marketing? An often-reported problem for many young people is that they don’t see people like themselves in positions of power. But if a company already has a strong employee that fits an underrepresented demographic, that employee can serve a key role as an influencer. Having this employee create articles, social media posts and any contributions that incorporate their personality can help underrepresented groups feel included. Only when people feel included can they begin to imagine themselves as part of your team.
In 2015, Forbes noted an uptick in tools that can help companies facilitate stronger diversity. Despite good intentions from HR, corporate diversity efforts were largely stagnant earlier in the decade. In response to this, innovative tools began cropping up to help organizations recruit in an unbiased way. Gap Jumpers created software to allow for blind interviewing, Unitive assists employers in writing unbiased job descriptions and Blendoor, a ‘bling recruiting’ app that facilitates matching based on merits not molds.
Now more than ever, people of color want to be assured that they can feel safe in social settings and secure in their career. There are plenty of actions modern companies can take to build a more inclusive employer brand. The most important step is to first be open and honest with candidates about recruiting challenges. Through open communication employers can build trust with their teams and fortify their employer brand regardless of the current political climate.
Ruth Agbaji is the CEO & Founder of The Grad Spark and a Software Engineer. The Grad Spark is an online community designed to empower and support Black millennials in STEM through shared stories, online events and accelerator programs. Connect with Ruth on LinkedIn