Engaging a workforce inclusive of black millennial talent
Black history month should be a time for companies to reflect, celebrate and strategically plan efforts to recruit and develop black millennial talent. Growing up without experiencing the documented narrative of black racial misfortunes like the housing divide, the lifestyle gap and poorer educational opportunities, I’ve become cognizant and learned a few key lessons over the last several years. Often the trickiest part of black millennial diversity and inclusion is educating people who can’t fully relate, don’t acknowledge or don’t really understand the day-to-day ramifications of the problem.
According to Pew Research, there are roughly 73 million millennials in the U.S. The term millennial is typically used to describe individuals born between 1980 and 1996. Pew Research also notes that only about 60% of millennials are white, with 19% identifying as Latin or Hispanic, 13% as black or African American and 6% as Asian American.
In a report released in December 2019, called “Being Black in Corporate America” the following was found:
- 31% of black millennials say they spend a great deal of energy to be very authentic at work
- 25% are expected to be an entire representation of their race or ethnicity on their work teams
Given these wellness and acceptance struggles and the racial and ethnic diversity among millennials, it’s no wonder that a 2018 Deloitte study found millennials are twice as likely to stay with a company beyond five years if they work for an organization that has a diverse workforce. A study by HubSpot also highlights the trend that millennials highly value the people they work with, as 56% say it’s a top workplace attribute enabling them to do their best work. Not only does diversity affect retention and productivity, but companies with a high-trust culture also deliver stock market returns three times greater than the normal average.
Despite all of those factors the same “Being Black in Corporate America” report, highlighted the discrepancies in percentages across black people in corporate America.
- Fortune 500 CEOs – 0.8%
- Executive/senior-level officials & managers – 3.2%
- Professionals – 8%
- College degree holders – 10%
How can your organization help?
1. Check your own biases so you can model inclusive behavior and avoid subtle and overt racial slurs and acts. Below are some examples.
- Commenting on how someone is not like others of their ethnicity
- Commenting on how articulate or well-spoken someone is given their race
- Touching a colleague’s hair without permission
- Excluding capable people from worthwhile career growth opportunities
- Excluding people from meetings relevant to their work
- Unnecessarily giving white members of the team more support
- Not seeing race
- Inappropriately telling someone that you have friends of their race
- Mistaking people of the same race
- Using racially insensitive language
2. Collect and audit your black diversity and inclusion efforts for anonymous quantitative and qualitative feedback from all levels of staff, departments and across different employment tenures. According to the Charter Institute of Personnel and Development, the most highly rated developmental opportunities are coaching (50%), mentoring (38%) and high-quality feedback (38%). Hopefully, your black millennial diversity and inclusion strategy includes all three.
3. The main problem with stereotypes is that they assume particular types of people or things are the same. Without exposure to people from various walks of life, people can’t address and correct their stereotypes. Finding and hiring black speakers or coaches who have unique life experiences and backgrounds is a wise move.
When was the last time you took into account where a speaker traveled and lived? According to a Deloitte 2019 millennial report, travel and seeing the world was at the top of millennials’ list of aspirations (57 %). If this is what millennials aspire to, it seems natural to have it on the “checklist.”
4. In the same 2019 study, nearly two-thirds (64 %) of millennials said they would be physically healthier if they reduced the time spent on social media. Six in 10 said it would make them happier people. Yet most of the time, our recruiting and corporate culture branding efforts focus on social media, which doesn’t appear to be conducive for millennial health or happiness. Physically go where the talent is by attending events and visiting organizations.
5. Deloitte also found that millennials remain skeptical of business’s motives. Under two thirds at 55 % said companies have a positive impact on society, down from 61 % in 2018. No one want’s to be treated as a diversity hire that gets neglected, but if hiring black millennial talent helps bring about organizational change and leads to a fair playing field in the workplace that will contribute to social impact. Supporting a cause on racial justice can also be a win-win on both fronts.
What we’ve spoken about today shows how we’re missing the mark, but there’s hope, and we definitely need hope. According to McKinsey, racial and ethnic diversity has a stronger impact on financial performance in the United States than gender diversity.