Diversity Hiring: Is hiring from referrals always a good idea?

‘’Diversity Hiring’’ series features world diversity and inclusion leaders and their thoughts on diversity recruitment, cultural diversity and equality.

Our guest today is Pearlie Oni, Sr. Manager of Employee Experience at RedPeg (one of Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies).

Variety is the spice of life, at least that’s Pearlie’s motto.  After starting her career in recruiting, she quickly branched out to follow a generalist track. With experience in all facets of HR and a professional certification from the Society of Human Resources Management, Pearlie fell into a career as an HR consultant in 2016.

Working across a variety of industries suited Pearlie, she began working as a consultant for a non-profit, a pharmaceutical company and a tech firm, until she eventually landed at RedPeg Marketing.  Her enthusiasm, creativity and hunger for variety paired well with RedPeg’s fast-paced and constantly evolving culture and she joined the Agency full time in January of 2018.

Pearlie, you worked for a variety of companies across multiple industries. What does diversity hiring mean to you?

Diversity recruitment is not about checklists, ratios and quotas. It’s not about ‘’ I need to hire 3 black women, 2 Asian American men and 1 LGBTQ person’’, even though the best candidate for the role may be a white male. Diversity in hiring is about open-mindedness and giving equal chances to all candidates. Having said so, reaching out to a pool of diverse candidates is the first step to ensure that there is a variety of candidates having different backgrounds and career paths. Otherwise, you will end up with the same candidate profiles and not necessarily hire the candidate who is most qualified for the job.

Many mid-sized companies encourage referrals and hire from referrals. The good side is that the candidate has been referred by an employee who knows well the candidate and probably has worked with them before. The downside is that this approach quite often leads to a lack of diversity. Our employees are likely to refer people like them who have graduated from the same schools, worked at the same companies, come from the same social classes or having similar life experiences. That’s why it is very important to advertise your job roles on web sites that cater to diversity and use language that encourages diverse candidates to apply for the job. Language is very important as it can encourage or discourage certain groups of candidates who otherwise will think that this job is not for them and won’t apply even if they are the candidates who are best qualified for the job. We make sure to reach to a variety of niche job boards focused on specific groups of candidates and HBCUs when we hire interns along with mainstream job boards.

 

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