How Committed Are You to Your Black Job Candidates?

Remembering and reflecting on Black history and recognizing Black excellence should not be limited to the month of February. Your diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are more than a box to check off — they’re year-round efforts that impact real people in real ways, and they start with your recruitment process.

What are your assessment practices saying about your commitment to inclusive experiences for Black candidates? A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) illustrates the current snapshot for Black job seekers in Canada as such: 

The BCG report also details a study which says that “among those with no criminal record, the ‘White’ resumé received three times the number of callbacks as the ‘Black’ resumé. When both candidates indicated a criminal record, the difference in callbacks jumped to 12 times. And, perhaps most shockingly, the ‘White’ applicants with a criminal record still got nearly twice as many calls back as the ‘Black’ applicants with no record.”

These outcomes are the result of hiring bias and the implications of not solving it lead to significant direct losses. 

Why Diversity Programs Fail 

Let’s look at what happens when organizations “hack” around inclusive hiring problems. When Black talent is selected based solely on corporate diversity goals over skills and behaviours required to succeed, it creates a dilemma when they enter the workplace. Candidates experience a culture shock, and 53% of Black grads report that they have to adjust their behaviour at work, which prevents them from being their true selves.

Replacing talent that exits due to a void of belonging in the workplace hurts in more ways than one. The average cost of replacing an employee is estimated at 33% of their annual salary. 

There is no measuring the damage bad testimonials do to the company brand. According to the same  BCG diversity and inclusion survey, “Black workers are less satisfied at work and 50% more likely to be planning to leave their job than White workers.” 

Even on a business level, the need-payoff for diversity is enormous, and screening diverse candidates leads to significant opportunity loss. It only makes business sense to create holistic processes that lead to diverse outcomes with more significant inclusion from the start. 

Why Inclusion Matters Now More Than Ever

In the Mckinsey report titled Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, which discusses ethnic and cultural diversity, “in 2019, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36% in profitability and innovation, up slightly from 33% in 2017 and 35% in 2014.” Catalyst shared that companies with the most female board directors outperformed organizations with the least amount by 26% on return on invested capital. 

The business case is simple to see, and yet shouldn’t be the spark to action. Organizations should be moving fast to change because it is simply the right thing to do. There is a myriad of areas and practices that have been explored by others that focus on creating inclusion across different parts of the recruitment funnel. 

Common Hiring Biases

Typical areas of bias live in building assessments, screening, and shortlisting diverse candidates. The best performing minority candidates are too often screened out by flawed or antiquated practices that do not focus on areas predictive of success. These processes lead to hires that eventually churn over or create succession planning problems once hired. Looking at behavioural skills and competencies over cognitive and degree-based criteria is a great place to start.

Even if you are already leveraging these, there is a need to audit the existing competency and skill frameworks for bias, which will help look past biased data and allow diverse applicants to shine. 

While using skills assessment tools and assessment technology is crucial, you must ensure that the assessment of choice does not disproportionately screen out minority candidates, leading to adverse impact. Ask to look into the “black box” while exploring solutions that leverage AI, and ask how the vendors’ machine learning algorithms work.

With the interview process, having minority representation in hiring managers and upper management can lead to feelings of belonging that allow minority candidates to show up and be authentic when interviewing for roles. 

Finally, collecting data to understand how your racially diverse candidates felt they moved through each stage of the hiring process will give great insight into applicants and where they are dropping off. After each screening, assessment, and interview, collecting data is vital, and anything less than four on the net promoter score highlights areas of opportunity. 

If these practices are not paired with connecting to diverse communities to source talent or opportunities for career progression once hired, they will not be sufficient. Foster inclusion and equality right from before the job posting through to succession planning, and anchor it with sponsorship and allyship.

Audit your processes and see where there is an opportunity for immediate improvement. Accountability begins before the problem starts.