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  • Robin Rosenberg

Diversity in the Talent Acquisition Process — A Chicken and Egg Problem?

Companies want to hire a diverse workforce. They’re motivated. But, they’ve said they can’t find diverse candidates. There may be some good news on the horizon.

As employers have openings, they are looking for applicants more broadly than ever, looking for graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and others. More fundamentally, many organizations are deeply re-thinking what backgrounds are really necessary for each job.

For instance, research indicates that someone’s level of education predicts only 1% (!) of their job performance. Employers are realizing that for many jobs, in is unnecessary to hire people with prior relevant experience or create artificial barriers in the job description (such as requiring a bachelor’s degree.) Instead, it can make sense to consider a wider range of applicants without the specific experience and train them. Currently, there are more job openings than previously trained applicants to fill the jobs, and so re-thinking job requirements is a necessity.

Similarly, employers should focus on the talent pipeline: rethink the “qualifications” for promotion with an eye toward the skills necessary for higher level jobs. Once identified, consider upskilling and mentoring those individuals, and eventually promoting them. In this way, the issue of diversity at higher levels takes care of itself.

The problem isn’t simply one of talent acquisition, though. It’s a systemic problem: even if a company hires a “diverse” applicant (however the company is defining that), if the workplace itself is not actually equitable and inclusive—leading diverse applicants to feel they belong—they’ll leave. And, perhaps, tell their network about the problems at the company. Thus, in a sense, the first step of the solution is to solve for equity and inclusion.




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