Cut & Polish

How Will Black and Underrepresented Talent Know They’ll Feel Safe Working for Your Org?

Diversity isn’t about quotas; it’s about lives. Here are the cues underrepresented talent will be looking for that show your org is a safe place to land.

What’s happening both in the news and on our streets right now is but one moment of public visibility in a long history of invisible and/or undocumented racisms. If you’re in talent acquisition and you recognize the urgency of helping build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture, you know that diversity isn’t just about meeting quotas of underrepresented talent. It’s about honoring—and therefore protecting—lives. Every time has been “no better time” for companies and their recruiting teams to be doubling down on diversifying their workforces; but now, in June of 2020, it’s an imperative.

We’ve known about the business case for diversity and inclusion for some time; but as far as we’re concerned at Gem, the ethical argument is—and has always been—more urgent. Workplace diversity eases the struggle for representation and breaks cycles of discrimination and oppression. Any company that hopes to be principled needs to address marginalization and equity of opportunity; ask itself if it’s creating and sustaining a workforce in which underrepresented talent feels seen, heard, and honored; and ensure that there are organizational structures in place so employees hold themselves accountable to conscientious speech and action.

Now more than ever, talent is paying attention to how companies treat their employees and candidates—particularly Black and other underrepresented talent. They’re paying attention to how your company is responding to this historical moment; and they certainly want to know if you’re just jumping on the bandwagon now, or if DEI has been built into your org from the beginning. If you’re a sourcer or recruiter, this means you can’t alienate or eliminate underrepresented talent from your pool before you even get to the phone-screen stage, because you’ll effectively squander the opportunity to build a diverse organization in which all employees feel they belong. The very top of the hiring funnel—outreach and nurture—is the most important stage for recruitment. This is perhaps especially true when it comes to diversity, since you can’t diversify a pool mid-funnel.

So how do you ensure underrepresented talent will see your messaging and talent brand, and know they’d be safe at your organization were they to join? How do you approach your job description, outreach, and careers page such that you have no choice but to pay attention to what in your organization could use more conscientious thought in the meantime?

Gem has just published Part 3 of a three-part series on diversity sourcing called The Ultimate Guide to Sourcing and Nurturing Diverse Talent Pools; and we’re making all three parts available to teams without asking them to provide any information in return: the topic is too important not to. In Part 1, we took a survey of the landscape, laid the stakes, and got you started on your diversity sourcing strategy. In Part 2, we focused on how and where to find underrepresented talent. Now that you’ve found them, it’s time to reach out to them.

And while underrepresented talent has the same skills and competencies as majority talent, their needs, hopes, and expectations about a workplace worth working for may differ from those of their majority counterparts. The stakes may be higher for them when it comes to a career move. They may need to hear something different than what you’ve become accustomed to writing in your outreach or JDs. They’ll be looking for cues that signal your company’s commitment to representation, its investment in all employees’ psychological safety, and the work it’s doing to ensure underrepresented employees stick around for the long haul. That’s what we cover in Recruiting for Diversity: Best Practices for Nurturing Underrepresented Talent.

Our goal in Part 3 is to offer sourcers and recruiters best practices for messaging for underrepresented talent. This includes job descriptions, careers pages, and outreach content, all of which should be telling a unified story about your company’s commitment to, and efforts toward, diversity, equity, and inclusion. After we discuss the kinds of cues underrepresented talent will be looking for, we offer some examples of initial outreach that exemplifies the use of those cues. We also discuss what metrics to keep track of so you can measure success, and pivot and iterate where you need to. This is a long guide; but we know it’s a topic worth treating comprehensively. It covers:

  • What “inclusive language” looks like in both your job description and your outreach
  • Why it may be worth getting rid of requirements altogether and opting for results-based job descriptions or “impact statements”
  • How gender, racial, and socioeconomic bias can unintentionally creep into job descriptions
  • Why you might consider indicating a salary range in your JD
  • Why you, and your company’s employees, should always be pronoun-forward
  • How to signal your company’s commitment not only to representation, but also to psychological safety and to retention of underrepresented talent
  • What underrepresented talent will be trying to identify about your culture from your social media accounts and your careers page
  • Why you should share demographic stats, even if your numbers aren’t what you want them to be (and what data to share in those stats)
  • Why you should consider a prospect self-identification form so prospective candidates can self-identify before they apply
  • Why it’s important for majority talent to reflect upon your inclusion initiatives, too (and how they might do so)
  • What inclusive benefits look like
  • Why employee resource groups (ERGs), mentorship and sponsorship initiatives, and representation in leadership are so important—and why you should highlight them in your outreach
  • How to imply that underrepresented talent is already included in your organization’s larger community

We hope this guide not only serves in your messaging; but that it alerts you (and your talent acquisition team, and your hiring managers) to the structures or elements in place in your company that could use some tending to. Outreach that speaks to a company’s inclusiveness can only come honestly from a company that’s already practicing inclusion. So as much as this guide is about talent acquisition’s “messaging,” it’s fundamentally about ensuring DEI is valued in your company from the top-down, and that it’s built into your organization’s DNA.

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Content Strategist
June 5, 2020
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