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Will this be the moment businesses get serious about racial bias in hiring?

Jackie Crosby, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

In response to such criticism, Harley took a hard look at the words his organization used in job postings and saw shortcomings.

"The language we use makes a lot of sense to us. It comes from a particular profile in society, mostly white, generally with a particular education and work path," he said. "It's not so much that we don't hire people of color -- they don't apply. They look at it and say 'It's not for me.'?"

Harley's sense is that for lasting change to occur, white business executives and policymakers must lead the way.

When Lewis heard that Environmental Initiative was looking for a new communications manager this spring, he told Harley about Bryant. "She may not have all the things you want, but get to know her so that when it's time to make a hire, you're not coming in cold," Lewis recalls telling Harley.

Bryant and Harley met. And two weeks ago, Bryant started the job, becoming for now the firm's only black employee.

"It's a position outside my area of focus," she said. "But through the link with Shawn, we realized it's a good fit."

 

Harley said it's not lost on him that it took someone like Lewis to explain that just because Bryant didn't check all the boxes of a traditional hire -- she had no experience in environmental work -- that she was worth interviewing.

"She didn't see our job posting randomly and respond," Harley said. "It was put in front of her by someone whom she trusted. And her resume was put in front of us by someone we trusted."

Change takes time

As business leaders take time to assess unconscious biases in their hiring practices and workplace culture, he cautions that it may take time to make lasting change.

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