Racial justice took center stage in 2020 as the Black Lives Matter movement shone a spotlight on the injustices facing African Americans. Employers took note and many are revisiting stale diversity-in-hiring policies established well before the events of the past year.
While most organizations have good intentions, they don’t always translate to the realities of representation in their workforce. The lack of representation is increasingly under scrutiny — particularly in matters of leadership and pay equity.
But what other issues should organizations consider as they seek to drive positive, meaningful change in diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies? How do hidden or unconscious biases affect company culture? What barriers keep otherwise qualified candidates away?
How can your organization create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace?
Remove unnecessary job requirements
Removing excessive job requirements, such as unnecessary college degrees, touches on DEI issues. For several decades, the United States has valued a bachelor’s degree at a traditional four-year college or university as the fastest path to income and career success.
Alternative means of education and concrete job experience deserve consideration too, and when we value them, we open doors for candidates who are often overlooked and add fresh talent to the workforce.
A quick online search reveals that most midlevel jobs now ask for a college degree as a minimum job requirement. Given that only about one-third of the population hold traditional degrees, the majority of applicants are immediately disqualified. Even the Harvard Business School calls for a halt to “degree inflation,” arguing that it “hurts both U.S. competitiveness and working-class Americans seeking a career path toward a decent standard of living.”
Consider second-chance hiring
Keeping an open mind about criminal conviction records is another way to improve DEI efforts and give former inmates a fresh start. That’s the idea behind second chance hiring, which seeks to employ ex-offenders after they’ve served their sentence.
Approximately one in four ex-felons is unable to find work because of their conviction record. Is it fair to further penalize an applicant who has already paid their debt? Second-chance hiring works on the principles of forgiveness and rehabilitation.
And there are signs that employers are open to changing their policies as public opinion shifts. By the end of last summer, more than 35 states and 150 cities had passed laws banning the felony conviction check box on job applications. Seven in 10 Americans now say blanket bans should be eliminated for formerly incarcerated individuals with non-violent and minor criminal records.
Given that nearly one in three Americans have some kind of criminal history, second-chance employment practices open doors to opportunity for a lot of people and provides employers with an untapped pool of potential talent.
Offer flex and alternative time
Employers should also consider that alternative schedules and flexible hours allow more people to accept jobs. Flexible work is not just for freelancers and gig workers. Today, many “traditional” employers are offering their employees more options. Employers might be hesitant, but there are benefits for both the workforce and the employer.
Workplace flexibility includes gig work, part time, remote, hybrid, compressed work weeks, and more. Employees gain some degree of control over work schedules that don’t traditionally accommodate their other priorities and constraints, such as childcare, disability, caring for an aging parent, or pursuing higher education.
For employers, flexibility will attract new candidates and improve retention of the current workforce. Surveys show that 80% of candidates would choose a job with flextime options over one with a traditional schedule. So, flextime widens and diversifies the talent pool for employers at a time when quality talent seems scarce.
Finally, evidence shows that employees with schedule flexibility are more productive than those stuck in the traditional 9 to 5 grind. Remote workers, for example, put in 1.4 more days per month than on-site workers. More productivity means employers enjoy a competitive edge — by giving employees exactly what they want.
The potential workforce is diverse, and workplaces must evolve to allow for equity and inclusion. Outdated job requirements fail to consider a significant percentage of the population. Rethinking hiring policies requires employers to examine and eliminate unconscious biases about race, gender, disability, and socioeconomic status. Dropping barriers that disqualify otherwise qualified candidates is a significant step toward true progress in DEI hiring practices.
TERRA Staffing believes in hiring the right person for the job. Our “screen in” hiring process opens more doors for more job seekers and drives more talent to your business. Talk with our team today about DEI initiatives and how we can all support more inclusive hiring.