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We are just beginning to move into what we hope will be a “post-COVID” world.  At the same time, responding to race-related tragedies, companies are struggling with how to address the structural inequities infecting our society.  The two issues tie together.

Right now, there are 9.3 million unfilled jobs in the US, the highest number in history.  Earlier this year, job openings increased by 8%, hires by only 3.7%.   According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 44% of small businesses could not fill open jobs this April.  If your employer is having difficulty hiring, a combination of Circa’s job-finding resources and staffing policy changes such as those outlined below will go a long way towards meeting business needs – and doing good.

Theories about why it is hard to hire abound.  Some say that enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping people at home – but the largest recent increase in hires are in lower paying jobs.  Many schools and daycare centers have yet to reopen, which may keep people in caregiver roles for now.  Whatever the reason, with a forecast that the US economy will grow 6% this year, demand for employment is likely to remain high – and openings remain hard to fill.

In 2018 and 2019, when overall unemployment was under 4%, minority employment increased substantially.  The Federal Reserve concluded that this was because in a tight labor market, employers tried harder than before to hire from historically marginalized groups.  These gains were lost with COVID.  They can be reproduced, and bettered, if employers keep in mind what has impeded minority employment in the past, and adjust hiring practices accordingly.

Employers should ensure that they both reach out to and do not needlessly disqualify members of minority groups:

  • Keep job requirements broad. Very few candidates with all the attributes you seek may exist. But there may be plenty of candidates who can build on existing abilities to meet your needs.  This is an especially powerful tool when coupled with Circa’s targeted diversity recruiting.
  • 10% fewer Blacks hold Bachelor degrees than Whites. So, as soon as you review for “better qualified, education” you may be disadvantaging this group.  Do not consider education above high school unless the job requires a higher degree (most jobs do not). Circa’s AI Candidate Matching tool focuses on diversity and matches skills to the job posting. And, adjusts match score for experience and skills when degree is lacking.
  • The employment gap between Blacks and Whites means that Blacks on the whole have less work experience on their resume. Work up a battery of questions about who people are, not what they have done, to predict success.  Consult experts to “validate” your questions or provide you with question sets that satisfy the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.  Figure out what a candidate can do, instead of relying on what they have
  • Identify the skill sets prevalent in minority communities within your traditional recruiting areas and identify resources that will help bridge any gap between their background and experience and your employer’s needs. Many state employment agencies have programs that you can tap into.  They often defray the costs of training.
  • Use the tools identified in Circa’s “bias interrupter” blog. These reduce the likelihood that hiring decisions will be tainted by prejudice or unwarranted assumptions concerning minority candidates.  Take these steps so that your process does not overlook the qualified minority candidates you find!

Of course, hire the best candidates.  The best candidate may be the minority candidate you evaluate for potential. The extra effort you put in to hiring those historically marginalized will help our society, your employer and, of course, those you help mainstream into American life.



Paul McGovern
Managing Partner
Praxis Compliance

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