March 06, 2017 by Anna Peters
College Recruiter is introducing a regular feature called “Inside the research”. We will dive into recent research that can be applied to practitioners in recruitment, HR and talent acquisition.
Policing and race relations are topics of national interest these days. A study from the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice1 looked at how several law enforcement agencies market their opportunities to communities of color, and their success in diversity recruitment. Drawing a parallel between police and corporate recruitment highlights just how much effort recruiters must put into hiring diversity. That is, if you want results. Here are six lessons that recruiters can glean from this study.
Understand that institutional racism is around us. “Police agencies have been criticized for what is perceived as institutional racism in the recruitment, retention and promotion of Blacks and other racial minorities,” write the authors of the study, titled “Recruiting for Diversity in Law Enforcement: An Evaluation of Practices Used by State and Local Agencies.” While police have been in the hot seat, recruiters of all sectors and industries must turn the mirror upon themselves. Many would agree that institutional racism exists in business across the board.
Put your money where your mouth is. The authors write, “Today’s typical police recruitment campaign is managed almost exclusively using advertisements in those news publications that cater to the greater (White) community at large.” As a recruiter you might be thinking, but we advertise across many different channels, including Facebook, which is very diverse! That may be true, but try doing a little exercise. Compare all the places where you advertise, and how much money you spend on each channel, to your recruitment goals. If you have a goal around diversity, you have to put your advertising dollars where your mouth is.
Police agencies desperately want to hire diversity, precisely because they know they have a trust problem with communities of color, particularly the African American community. The study points out what should be common sense: “When citizens see that a police department has personnel who reflect a cross-section of the community, they have greater confidence that police offers will understand their problems and concerns” (Streit, 2001). The study found, however, that these agencies are just not putting their money where their mouths are. There are points of contact in the community where recruiters may connect with more of their targeted candidates—churches, hair salons, shopping malls, for example—and yet the agencies studied here did not take advantage these opportunities.
Be aware of hypocrisy. Companies who include diversity in their core values, and especially companies who flaunt their inclusive environments, would be wise to check their authenticity. The study reminds us of what we already know about policing: “when community partnerships are seen as being superficial, agencies risk alienating candidates who might be aware of hypocrisy where such activities are inconsistent with reality.” (Syrett & Lammiman, 2004). You should communicate your commitment to diversity, but just saying it doesn’t make it so. Effective diversity recruitment makes it so. Continue Reading