As the U.S. continues grappling with the aftermath of police killings of African Americans, we have been inundated with questions dealing with race in the workplace. While we often receive calls about how to react to a specific situation, we have also heard from human resources professionals looking for proactive steps to enhance racial equality. Three important areas to focus on are recruiting, advancement, and pay equity.
To increase the number of qualified people of color in your applicant pool, recruit from a wider variety of places. Go to colleges, community colleges, and job fairs that have higher numbers of minorities than your organization has traditionally gone to. Ask your staffing agencies to provide a diverse pool of candidates. You also may have minorities within your organization who have good recruiting ideas and are itching to share them – ask. Soliciting ideas can help not only diversify your candidate pool but also increase engagement among the people you have already hired.
Engagement is critical for the next step: advancement. HR can help push strategies to make the work environment welcoming, challenging, and rewarding, including mentoring programs. HR also plays a critical role in how job openings are communicated. If you get pushback in this regard, remind managers that many EEOC complaints have resulted from a white employee getting a job that no one else even knew about. Of course, HR alone can’t fix these problems. You need buy-in from managers and executives to identify high-performing minorities and support the programs that help them grow.
You also need leadership’s buy-in with pay equity. The hiring manager should not be the only person involved in setting salary. HR professionals have the broader context of what the salary bands are and where candidates may fit based on their experience and the market. Don’t just look to past salaries or use negotiating prowess as an excuse. HR should insert itself and be intentional to ensure that people of like experience and skill sets get paid in a like manner.
In addressing pay equity, a position-based audit is often the best place for a company to start. Don’t try to tackle the whole organization at once – take a few key positions and audit the pay of everyone in those roles. There may be wide ranges in some cases. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with why. If it’s not readily or appropriately explainable, work through steps your organization can take to avoid that kind of disparity going forward.
In a recent webinar, we addressed these and other challenges employers face in dealing with race in today’s climate. Click here to learn more and watch a replay of the webinar.