1st February 2021

Recruiters must do more to boost BAME employment prospects in 2021


When it comes to finding employment, not everyone starts on an equal footing. Statistically, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates are far less likely to be hired than their white counterparts – a worrying trend that needs to be reversed as soon as possible.

Recruiters have a critical role to play in ensuring the right person is hired for each role, rather than prejudice or unconscious bias weighting the process in favour of certain candidates. 2021 must be the year that recruitment agencies do more to boost BAME employment prospects, helping talented professionals to move up the career ladder.

COVID-19 has harmed opportunities for young BAME professionals

Movements like Black Lives Matter have highlighted just how much work still needs to be done to create a truly equal society. Employment is a major part of this discussion – particularly for young people trying to start their career.

Two separate studies published in late 2020 have highlighted how people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are worst affected by the current working climate.

According to a YE2030 report, 45% of Black, Caribbean young people have been furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis compared to 26% of young white workers. Additionally, Health Foundation research published by The Freelance Informer reveals that 22% of furloughed BAME professionals have since fallen into unemployment.

While most employers are not intentionally racist, often unconscious bias leads companies to favour white candidates over their BAME colleagues. So how can your recruitment agency reduce this bias, to ensure all candidates are judged on equal terms? And create more opportunities for talented BAME professionals to progress their careers?

Here are a few thought starters…

Build a bigger BAME talent pool

Change comes from within – and for recruitment agencies, that means starting with your own talent pool. How diverse is it? Could you be doing more to engage people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds?

Set targets for your business, and then look at how you can meet those targets as quickly as possible. This might mean partnering with mentors or organisations for expert advice; networking and advertising through new avenues; establishing grass roots schemes to help school and university leavers from diverse backgrounds to identify their key skills and improve their interview techniques.

It’s also important that you work with your team to remove any barriers or unconscious bias in your internal processes. For example, you may decide to implement a ‘blind CV’ approach, where candidates’ names and other personal details are removed. This away, every shortlisted person is judged on their skills and experience alone.

Help your clients create diverse recruitment policies

Recruiters have a huge influence on who companies hire, so you’re perfectly placed to shape your clients’ employment policies for the better.

Educate businesses on the discrimination that BAME professionals face, and challenge them head-on to change their approach. Ask them to commit to diversity policies and create proactive opportunities for engaging BAME candidates; for example, recently, some of the UK’s biggest employers (including the NHS) committed to taking on 10,000 black interns over the next five years.

Help employers to understand potential barriers for recruiting BAME candidates. For instance, many prospective employees are put off by a lack of diversity on interview panels. Others cite lack of similar role models, as they fear they won’t have appropriate mentoring to support their career progression.

As a recruitment expert, it’s vital that you make sure your client base set employment goals and track on-target during the year. You can hold them accountable by logging and monitoring progress through a recruitment CRM system.

You can support clients’ diversity commitments by providing a consistent stream of capable, appropriate candidates whenever new roles become available.

Real change is not a token gesture

The good news for recruiters is that racial inequality is a headline topic right now; employers are very aware that they need to create more opportunities for BAME professionals. However, it’s still too easy for these companies to view diversity as a ‘tick-box’ policy.

Your objective for 2021 is to ensure businesses make long-term commitments to recruitment equality, rather than token gestures. And the best way to do this is to educate your own team first, making it their mission to instil change in their clients’ hiring processes.

While it’s up to you to create the action plans you need to make this happen, ETZ can support your recruitment agency in one important way: by reducing the time your team spend on admin, so they can focus on higher value tasks.

Our recruitment tech stack automates back office operations. So instead of everyday admin like compliance, timesheets and payroll taking the lion’s share of people’s time, your agency can focus on important issues – like engendering social change.

To explore our recruitment software, book a demo.

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