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Stories from Our Staff: Why Companies Fail on Diversity Hiring

By Tom Parker, Vice President of Consulting Services

Recently York Solutions published the results of a survey that asked Chicago’s top IT executives about their initiatives on diverse hiring for 2019. We found that building diverse teams was one of the top priorities for executives, but they are struggling to make that happen. Of the surveyed leaders, 65 percent said diverse hiring was very or extremely important in 2019.

We all know that diverse hiring has shown to increase innovation, diverse team’s process facts more carefully and are prone to make fewer errors. So what is causing organizations to struggle with diversity hiring?

One common theme I hear all the time is that there is a pipeline problem with qualified diverse candidates. This is both accurate and inaccurate at the same time; it just depends how you are viewing the market. But first let’s go through a few facts:

  • 56% of professional U.S. jobs are held by women, but only 25% of IT jobs are held by women.
  • 6 million veterans who served since 9/11 still face unemployment, many who are minorities.
  • 93% of highly qualified women who have “off-ramped” their careers are eager to rejoin the workforce, but only 40% successfully do so.

If you want to increase your diverse hiring you need to diversify WHERE and HOW you hire. There are millions of qualified, intelligent and hardworking Americans in the market, but you need to change where and how you are looking for them. They do NOT have a polished IT resume with all the fancy tech buzz words. These individuals are getting screened out by recruiters who know most organizations will refuse to interview them because they don’t match up with the desired qualifications on paper. However, you can still find these skilled workers if you do these two things:

First – “Don’t Mind the Gap”

Many of these workers have been out of the workforce for a few years and might have a substantial resume gap. This doesn’t mean they aren’t qualified. In the professional world we see any employment gap as a negative (don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is) but understanding why they had a gap can be a game changer. Did they take time off to raise children? Become a caregiver? Or was it due to a serious illness? These Americans didn’t forget how to be hard workers overnight – they’ve been working hard the whole time just not in the confines of an office building.

Second – “Select Behaviors not Skills”

Millions of companies talk about veteran hiring, but most don’t understand how those skills translate into the professional work place. If you’re looking for a great Project Manager, many organizations will post a job with qualifications that mimic the current employees that they have in-house: 7+ years of experience, experience running large technical projects, PMP certification, etc. While you will find candidates that resemble your existing workforce, you’ll miss out on a veteran who ran 100+ person combat missions, overseas and in hostile territory where they had to manage technology, cross functional teams and bureaucrats.

Obviously, there are skills that will need to be learned when hiring candidates who might lack some basic technical knowledge, but those can be learned faster than you think. Too often we hire individuals based on skills, but fire them based on behavior.  Next time you look for diverse candidates, make sure you diversify WHERE and HOW you recruit and I know you will be happily surprised with what you find.

At York Solutions we are tackling this problem head on. Our Barriers to Entry (B2E) program is specifically geared towards helping stay-at-home parents, veterans, and caregivers return to the workforce. Our comprehensive, paid, training program is led by a trainer with executive-level experience in the IT industry and is focused on IT and technology skills. To learn more about York Solutions or our Barriers to Entry program, click here.