It’s a common complaint that the tech industry is jaw-droppingly homogenous; a lot of people think that status quo needs to be upended. But how can women and minority tech pros land on the recruitment radars of companies that have committed to diversity? For starters, it will take active engagement with both online and real-world social networks.
Be Visible Online
Airies Davis, founder of the etiKID Academy LLC, an organization that provides character education and professional business acumen to students of low socio-economic status, thinks the biggest misnomer is that many organizations assume skilled diversity candidates don’t exist, especially at high levels. “Candidates with all the bells and whistles are here,” she said, “but recruiters have to do a bit of proactive searching in order to identify us, and social media is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this.”
Davis suggests that candidates get involved with organizations that represent the specific field of their choice, and interact with members who speak the same professional language. “It’s actually very important that as a person of color, you join non-diverse groups as well,” she added. “That’s how you get your seat at the table, by allowing yourself to explore a broader approach to your search and being more visible across networks and platforms.”
Remaining easily searchable online is critical. Chris Brown, vice president of human resources at West Corporation, a telecommunications service provider, said his recruiters search LinkedIn and other online sites: “It makes it easy in terms identifying more qualified professionals because there are so many business organizations dedicated to specific cultures, ethnicities, etc.”
Get in Touch
Employee referrals are a significant resource for hiring. Connect online and off with people you know (and people you want to know) in your field. Some companies go out of their way to encourage referrals; Brown’s organization, for example, has an employee resource group (ERG) that finds ways to reach viable candidates in different communities, which includes mining social, cultural and professional groups.
Kenneth L. Johnson, diversity recruiter and president of East Coast Executives, has found that aggressive referral programs targeted to a company’s current diverse employees are the most effective way to find best hires.
Candidates should also “solidify their brand” by enhancing their online presence. Comb through your social media accounts, asking yourself if what you’ve posted accurately reflects your professional self.
You Must Be Included
When exploring whether a company would be a good place to work, candidates should spend as much time as possible researching not only what the firm does, but also its hiring practices.
“You can’t expect a single person of color to walk through an organization and be all things diverse,” Davis said. “If I look at a company’s webpage online and in the mission and values statement I don’t see something that represents their intent to create a multi-cultural environment or something that speaks to diversity, I may not be as interested.”
Davis also looks to the executive board and management; if she doesn’t get a sense that they support future initiatives for a more diverse team, she’d likely decline to apply altogether. She advises candidates to look for recruiters who are active members of professional associations that serve particular identity groups, and pay attention to their outreach and attendance.
It’s crucial for candidates to seek out companies whose methods of communication and employment strategies are transparent, she concluded: “It’s not just diversity but inclusion… We want to know that there’s a plan of action.”