The Black unemployment rate in the United States has been twice the White unemployment rate for decades now. Right before the pandemic, things were looking up for Black employment. Now, once jobs were lost, the Black community was once again hit disproportionately. Then, in the summer of 2020, we saw companies from all industries pledging more diverse hiring, better inclusion programs and support for current Black employees. But, what happens once diversity and inclusion are no longer buzzwords? How can companies show real care and avoid discrimination from now on?
Diversity starts at the top
When it comes to having a more diverse company, you can’t just promise to hire more women in the mailroom. When you have more diversity in management, it will be easier to diversify every other department.
Diversity and inclusion expert Leslie Short told Bold TV, “If you don’t have representation in the room to reach out to a certain community authentically, then you are doing the same thing over and over again.”
Adding diversity to the hiring pool also allows your company to reach out beyond the usual realm to find new candidates. If you really want to level up and be more inclusive, you have to reach outside your circle and welcome others.
You don’t need a splashy statement
Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian actually chose to step down from his position to allow a person of color a seat on his board. Acts like this are huge and brave, but not every business needs to make a splashy statement. Simply promoting diverse candidates from within and giving them the access and opportunity to knowledge as everyone else is just as powerful.
If you don’t have a diverse set of people in your business, examine why. Look within at your company culture, and look without at your clients and consumers. Does your company culture reflect the image you want to put out into the world? Does your staff accurately represent your desired consumer? If the answers are no, then you may want to re-examine your approach to hiring.
Barriers to employment
One factor contributing to the racial wealth gap and job rates in the United States is incarceration. Incarceration impacts Black and Hispanic Americans at a disproportionate rate compared to White Americans. Incarceration is also a common barrier to employment. Many companies run background checks and immediately disqualify applicants who have been in prison or even just arrested.
Diversity does not only mean color and gender but experience and thought as well. People who have experienced such hardships may have the perspective you need in your business to progress to the next level. Kyle Horn from America’s Job Honors Awards explains that “people who have been through hell frequently exhibit remarkable work ethic and loyalty. If those are things you’re looking for in a job candidate, consider opening up your hiring possibilities.
Read more about diversity in the job market here.