Restructuring the Hiring Process
With companies trying to hire more diverse, especially Black, candidates, we must also begin restructuring, deconstructing, and dismantling the process that caused the pipeline problem and lack of Black hires in the first place. There are already preset biases in place without us even realizing, geographically, culturally, etc. Though it should have been done before, we should really begin to put into high consideration people’s backgrounds, cultures, identities, and stories without preconceived judgment because each of these factors is key to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace and environment.
We all have preconceived biases, but whether we choose to act on those biases or let it affect how we treat or hire are what’s important to keep in mind here. When bringing in new black hires, whether an intern or full-time position, consider these few things; “Diversity is more than just a Race Category”, “Think Outside the Box & Understand Everyone’s Story”, and know that “Bots have Cultural Biases too”.
1. Bots Create Biases Too
AI Bots were meant to make the hiring process more efficient and faster for recruiters and hiring managers by eliminating the need to sift through thousands of resumes each day. This way, the AI Bots can weed out the candidates who aren’t “fit” for these roles. Though this process has made it easier for the HR department for sure, it has also caused pre-programmed cultural and racial biases to emerge.
Through certain keywords, the AI bots are able to sift through what resumes will get passed on or rejected during this screening process. If those “keywords” that were created aren’t embedded in your resume, you’re already eliminated before a recruiter or hiring manager even gets the chance to review your credentials or see you as a potential candidate for the position. But how can one candidate very well know all the keywords to put on their resume to give them the green light given that every company is different?
That candidate may just be what you’re looking for and need, but they’re unfortunately already out of the race before the race even starts. If companies are going to continue to utilize the AI bots to sift through candidates, then companies have to rid of the racially bias words that eliminate a candidate from the hiring process. This can be as simple as their name, where they may live, or the university they attend. For example, I attend a Historically Black College or University, and depending on where I may apply for jobs my school could be deemed as “too ethnic” and I could be immediately rejected from the role without even making it to the interview process.
Although technology has allowed us to thrive and flourish in numerous ways, it may just be creating the same cultural biases we have been attempting to dismantle.
2. Imposter Syndrome Creeps In
After applying to every company I could think of that offers UX Design internship opportunities, connecting with several recruiters over these past several quarantine months, creating genuine relationships with them, and still being rejected or not passed along, I realized that it may not even be the recruiters.
It may unfortunately be the hiring managers making those final decisions that hold these preset biases against Black candidates. The recruiters may see Black designers as valuable candidates, but ultimately it comes down to the decision of the hiring managers who may not see that same value.
Per my own experience, I’ve watched several of my non-black counterparts get passed along to the next round while I get rejected after submitting my application or after the first round. However, after viewing my non-black counterpart’s work, I realize that my work is just as equal to their work.
The recruiter may have loved me, but it was the hiring manager that decided not to move forward with my candidacy. And without the necessary feedback on how to improve for the next time I interview, I found myself confused. After a couple of those “We have decided to move forward with another candidate” emails, imposter syndrome always seemed to creep its way back in, even with high confidence in myself and work. In an industry where we are constantly trying to reshape and hire more diverse candidates, let’s make a stronger effort to make the hiring process itself more equal and equitable across the board.
3. Diversity is More Than Just a Race Category
This pandemic has offered several opportunities for the reachability of a more diverse pool of candidates without the travel barrier that there once was previously. This allows companies to have more candidates from various geographical locations. If companies are limiting their hiring pool to people only located in the Bay Area, the chances of a company increasing the amount of diversity it has can often be slim- especially if a company is only hiring from one specific race as well. Don’t just limit yourself to one set location, explore other regions or areas of the country.
Diversity doesn’t just focus on gender identity, race, or religion, but also people with disabilities. Though it is asked in the application process whether you have a disability or not, I believe companies should consider hiring more candidates with disabilities if possible. Though it’s great to have a sense of empathy when creating and designing accessible products for a company, it’s that much more effective when you’re able to have that perspective from a person who has that particular disability you’re designing for.
Keep in mind a disability doesn’t mean crippled, it’s just another person’s superpower and another part of their story.
4. Think Outside the Box & Understand Everyone’s Story
Take into account the person you’re hiring instead of just finding someone who may check all the boxes on paper. Many people and companies think that if they have a White or Asian woman in their company that it equates to complete diversity. This is not the case if the majority of your company population is White or Asian. However, having three Black people on the team doesn’t necessarily mean your company is diverse either. Don’t just hire Black people into your company just to say you have a “diverse team” or to meet some predetermined mental quota you may have.
Designers are always encouraged to express or tell our story through our design work, but how are we able to tell our story with the fear of knowing we’ll be judged or not hired because of it? The irony of it all is that it can be a lose-lose situation for several candidates if they tend to come from a nontraditional or unheard of background.
However, you never know if your next employee hire that worked the night shift at Walmart and transitioned into the design space without proper schooling could be the one to drive your company’s next innovation through their work ethic and efficiency.
We also have to erase the assumption that every Black person is made the same and that we all can be categorized into one box. Black people and the Black culture is not a one size fits all. In fact, the Black race and culture encompass several dynamics that some of us can’t even begin to understand. It’s beautiful, unique, and the reason why we could come from the same city and still have a completely different experience than the other. Everyone is different and has a unique story to tell.
I come from a two-parent household with 2 younger siblings raised in the state of Georgia – but that’s my background, not my story. I am more than my background. I have a story to tell that intertwines with the thriving woman I am aiming to be; one who positively impacts people with her words and actions. Once we start to separate those two things as their own entity rather than lumping them together as if they are one, we can truly begin to create an understanding and empathy for every person we come in contact with.
How do you think companies can work to eliminate racial biases and create a more diverse hiring process and staff? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
By Zariah Cameron
Zariah Cameron is a rising junior in college, at North Carolina A&T State University, studying Graphic Design. However, she has recently transitioned into UX Design, as an independent study. She finds interest in how users connect to technology and the impact that design can have on that connection. She loves creating products that invoke social change or/and impact people’s life’s in a positive way. When she is not designing, she loves to write fictional stories. Currently, she is working on developing an initiative program to foster design skills for black college students.