Your company still struggles with diversity… The fix costs you nothing.
I have seen and spoken to so many companies about their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive programs. They have created ERGs (employee resource groups), fund conferences, and some even have training their employees must take. If you are reading this, your company probably fits the bill. However, it takes more than a seminar for your employees to be indeed inclusive, and until you are inclusive, your diversity will lack.
Listen up folks, we are about to get started
4. Remove background requirements
I can’t believe I have to see this in 2022 but so many companies, including the only platform I use (looking at you, LinkedIn), still require college degrees. In the age where schools are underfunded, colleges have shown to care more about money than upholding a quality education, and the upcoming generation sees little benefit in university, companies still have it as a list of requirements.
I understand the sentiment; you want to ensure the person you hire has all the background knowledge necessary for the job. However, if you honestly believed that a college education would qualify them, why do you test them in an interview? Testing them shows if they truly have the knowledge to do the job. Therefore, you do not trust the education system to be the source of truth. So why continue to have the college degree requirement? By doing so, you are limiting almost half the qualified people of color from applying.
Remove the college degree requirement, and trust your interview process.
3. Have ERG members in every single interview
Okay, no facts here. Just my personal opinion. Twice I interviewed for my field’s most prestigious company in the world. Both times I had a person of a different race demean and degrade me in the interview. One of them even purposefully ensured that I would tank the interview by not letting me answer the question. He outright refused to let me write the answer on the whiteboard during a whiteboard interview. At the end of the interview, he told me I should have figured out a way to write the answer anyways.
Sure I could tell the recruiter, and I did, but there’s not much they can do. Many groups are marginalized, and often it’s not just white people but other races that are more accepted by society. Ensure this doesn’t happen at your company by having your ERG supervise interviews. Having an ERG member of the same racial and/or gender groups would have ensured that this behavior is not tolerated.
Have an ERG member that represents your interview candidate in every single interview.
2. Create content for your local high schools
No, not the private school your kid attends. You know, that school that is known for failing. That one. The one where the teachers are vastly underpaid, and the students are performing below the state level. They are the ones that need your help and in reality, they are willing to work harder for success. Many organizations, like Empowr, teach in these schools. Suppose your company was to create a curriculum or content for organizations to teach, so they can hire qualified students. In that case, you could gain diverse and skilled employees. The best part is that they would know everything you need them to know to do the job. Say goodbye to false hires or bad culture fits.
You can specify your qualifications. The students must pass a test, have a company-provided mentor, and have multiple touchpoints with the company. Your company is effectively participating in the school-to-career pipeline at this point. You gain great employees, and you end generational poverty for low-income communities.
While this one may actually cost some money (depending on if you have internal content or not already), the amount it cost to develop a curriculum vs the amount of money companies spend on false hires makes this an easy decision. Develop the curriculum.
You can work with local high schools to train the talent your company needs. End poverty. Gain a great employee. End bad hires.
1. Open Internships to those 16 & up
This is huge. Why are your internships restricted to high school students? By doing so, you eliminated around 50% of your employment pool for people of color, put a class restriction for those who can afford college, and upheld the racist and classist systems in America.
It requires no legal changes to accept students 16 & up, so your company doesn’t have to change anything except their mindset. Also, by doing so, you can pair the paid internships. You can pair the paid internships. Let me say it one more time. You can pair the PAID internships with your new high school curriculum to ensure the students have real work experience before they leave high school.
In addition to helping the youth from low-income communities, you will be helping those who come from alternative backgrounds.
Remove the college restriction for internships.
My Final Point
I received plenty of offer letters from big four tech companies, am being honored for my tech contributions by MIT, and am successfully raising the next generation of diverse engineers. I am not saying this to brag. I am saying this because no matter how highly companies think of me, their rules would restrict me from working there. I got lucky. I had a startup who gave me a chance and from there my career took off. Stop limiting good talent. I had to be homeless before I got a tech job. That shouldn’t be the case.
If you have any questions or need helping starting any of these, feel free to book a meeting with me. I’m here to help.