Recruitment of Black graduates failing to impact racial injustice at work

·3 min read
Recruitment of Black graduates failing to impact racial injustice at work
Black graduates found they had to work harder to be successful, finding that they had to 'prove themselves' by outperforming White peers. Photo: Getty

The recruitment of Black graduates is failing to impact racial injustice within workplaces and needs CEO backing to make a difference, according to a new report from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

When transitioning into the workplace, Black graduates said they were "unprepared for the explicit and covert racism, non-inclusive environments and found poor representation of Black people in senior positions" they experienced after moving from from more diverse university environments into predominantly white workplaces, the report found.

Black graduates found they had to work harder to be successful, finding that they had to "prove themselves" by outperforming white peers. They also had to try hard to "fit in and adapt to the expectations of white colleagues."

Many employers do recognise Black heritage graduates come up against additional challenges in the labour market and have dedicated recruitment processes, the report found. 

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However there is little support once the hiring process of over — while 54% of businesses have a strategy to attract Black candidates and 44% track retention, just 22% provide dedicated support during early careers.

The report found the most effective strategies to enable Black graduates to successfully progress at work and include providing support networks such as mentoring and buddy schemes.

Employers and Black graduates both agreed that improving diversity is not just a "branding issue" and can not be solved exclusively through recruitment. "It has to be integrated into the whole organisation rather than just at the entry point," the report said.

Black graduates interviewed for the report called for more help in successfully transitioning into work and more support and training on dealing with race and racism as well as understanding unconscious bias.

ISE is calling for more recognition from employers that challenging racism needs to be "everyone’s business", and is urging businesses to include people from Black heritage backgrounds in making recruitment decisions and to overhaul recruitment processes to ensure that they are not biased and discriminatory.

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Businesses should make more fundamental changes to ensure representation at all levels of their organisations and should lend their voices to wider campaigns for racial justice, the report said.

The report calls for the education system to improve career education and address racism and diversity as part of this and for organisations to support hires from Black heritage backgrounds during their early careers.

Stephen Isherwood, CEO of ISE, said: “Business benefits from increased diversity in the workplace only accrue when organisations manage diversity positively and progressively. Recruitment is only one part of the solution. 

"Recruiting more Black students is essential, but the true measure of success is if they are still there in four years’ time.”

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