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How Hiring Managers Can Help Underrepresented Communities Thrive

By Kayleigh Alexandra, MicroStartups | October 29, 2019

The hiring process doesn’t need to fixate solely upon prospective profits, especially in a time when interest in ethical consumerism and business is rising. Using your company to do good things for deserving people is absolutely worthwhile. Why not stand up for your principles and establish a company culture you can be proud of?

It’s a mistake to think that doing good things and making money are mutually exclusive – in fact, that’s far from the case. Done correctly, a forward-thinking recruitment process constitutes a win-win: it provides job seekers with meaningful opportunities and finds you exciting new talent that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

So, if you’re hiring, you have every reason to adopt an approach that will bring underrepresented communities into the fold. Here’s how you can do it:

 

Search for candidates as broadly as possible.

Only using generic recruitment channels to hunt for new employees could limit your reach. For instance, many basic job boards require specific resume formats which can be restrictive for people who don’t have a traditional work background. And believe it or not – some viable candidates don’t use the large sites to look for jobs.

Consider varying your approach to recruiting by doing community outreach events, asking for referrals, and using industry-specific communities. By diversifying your recruiting efforts, you’ll find new talent and give opportunities to those why may not have found your job opening otherwise.

 

Woman smiling at work

 

Look for potential and passion over experience.

Many job seekers are painfully aware of the Catch-22 of the working world: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. The typical solution of taking unpaid work to build up some momentum is only suitable for people who can afford to do it, making it a non-starter for some.

As a hiring manager, stop placing so much emphasis on the value of formal experience. After all, it’s usually only significant when it accompanies skill, but informal experience can be just as good – and there are plenty of people with the ability and interest to develop the necessary skills if given the chance.

If you focus on unlocking potential vs. hiring for experience, you’ll open a lot of opportunities for underrepresented communities. And, your business will benefit from the fresh eyes and new perspectives that untapped talent brings.

 

Let employees tell their unique personal stories.

If you’ve recently hired talent from underrepresented communities, allow them to tell their story. Giving them a platform to speak can boost their confidence in the workplace and encourage them (and others) to pursue their professional ambitions.

Don’t underestimate the significance of cultural representation. It not only gives people from different backgrounds some extra assurance that their unique contributions are both valuable and valued, but it also raises awareness of their communities (these fashion designers are doing just that for Indigenous people in Canada). As a result, you can achieve a net positive for representation throughout your industry instead of just inside your business.

It’s also great for showcasing the humanity and personality of your company. It’s a valuable thing when your team is diverse – so let people see it.

 

Woman working from home while her child plays in the background

 

Provide flexible working arrangements.

The classic 9-to-5 office routine is rarely seamless for anyone, but it’s particularly awkward for people who live in tough-to-reach areas, have major personal responsibilities (looking after family, most commonly), or aren’t particularly comfortable in traditional business environments. Instead of trying to force people to adhere to it, why not let it go?

After all, you likely don’t need your whole staff to work those specific hours, nor do you need to have everyone in the office throughout the week. Remote working is perfectly viable for most industries. Provide a new hire with a laptop and a mobile data dongle, and they can work from home in a way (and at a pace) that suits them.

What ultimately matters is the work they get done, whether they manage it during an afternoon in the office or a night at home. Think about how many talented people consistently get overlooked for positions because they need to deal with childcare or other family matters. If they have the skill, and can achieve the productivity, they’re just as deserving as anyone else.

 

Ethical business is important, but hiring to support underrepresented communities isn’t simply a matter of being charitable. It’s also fantastic for business – it brings in new perspectives to shake things up and unearths previously ignored talent. Try these tips to pursue greater representation, and you’ll unlock potential in your business and your new talent.

 

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