5 Ways Top Early Career Hiring Teams Are Recruiting and Retaining Black Talent in 2023

We sat down to talk about how you can connect with Black candidates today.

As companies continue to prioritize diversity in the workforce and open their doors to talent from a variety of backgrounds, it’s become increasingly clear that applying a one-size-fits-all recruitment strategy will not help them reach their goals to build a more inclusive work environment. In fact, Gen Z’s preferences when it comes to selecting their future employer differ by gender, race, and ethnicity — such as disparities within how they prefer to work (in-person, remote, or hybrid), to what they would deem a negative candidate experience. 

To narrow in on Black talent in the workplace, we invited four talent leaders to discuss their strategies for recruiting and retaining Black talent today, including Dia Harris, Director of Recruitment: Global Campus Diversity & Pipeline Programs Leader at BNY Mellon; Nikisha Thomas, Head of Diversity Outreach, Early Careers, and Campus Recruiting at Allstate; Sherry McCaskill, Human Resources Talent Acquisition Manager, College Programs and Trainee Operations at Toyota; and Will Ussher, Asst. Manager, Talent Acquisition Programs at Navy Federal Credit Union. 

You can watch a recording of the full panel here, and follow below for highlights from the discussion. Read on for 5 ways that our panelists are recruiting and retaining Black talent in 2023. 

1. Reaching untapped markets

While you can recruit Black candidates on large college campuses and at well-known Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), our panelists emphasized that there is a lot of talent you can connect with at smaller HBCUs. While many companies heavily recruit at popular HBCUs such as Howard University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College, if you’re anywhere among the eastern states, there’s an HBCU within reach for recruitment! HBCUs are spread across 20 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Virgin Islands. See our guide to recruiting at HBCUs to learn about top schools with students interested in a variety of industries. 

In addition, while you may have always recruited candidates with four-year degrees, our panelists suggest fostering relationships with talent who may not have Bachelor’s degrees. In lieu of a degree, consider expanding your job qualifications to accept relevant work experience or the completion of relevant certificate programs.

To connect with these candidates, panelist Nikisha Thomas suggested exploring OneTen.org, which connects Black talent without degrees to well-paying job opportunities. This organization and others like it allow companies to find Black candidates looking for early career opportunities and have qualifications to offer outside of four-year degrees.

2. Understanding the need to build long-term relationships

Many recruiters today make the mistake of trying to create inauthentic, transactional relationships with candidates. And while this may work here and there, this strategy will not hold up when it comes to Black candidates. Instead, our panelists recommend fostering long-term relationships and finding ways to keep candidates warm in your hiring pipeline. For example, when offering internships to Black students, they suggested providing them a clear path to becoming full-time hires, and once hired, provide opportunities for promotions. This long-term strategy can help you recruit future candidates. That’s because in addition to building a strong pipeline of talent, existing employees can also act as ambassadors and attest that your organization has a track record for facilitating and retaining a diverse candidate pipeline.

3. Attending diversity-focused conferences

Not only will attending diversity-focused conferences help you connect with Black talent, but it will also allow you the chance to better understand this talent pool, panelists explained. That’s because you can observe what others around you are doing to attract candidates, and directly interact with internship and job seekers and ask about their priorities in their future employer.

Our panelists attend and recommend these conferences for hiring Black talent, in addition to other diverse candidates:

These conferences will help you learn about what individuals in these communities seek in professional opportunities and allow you to hone your recruitment strategies. 

4. Providing on-site learning opportunities

Instead of only making campus visits to find early career Black talent, why not provide candidates with hands-on learning opportunities in your domain? Top organizations today are bringing talent to their offices for early career programs and other learning opportunities, such as BNY Mellon’s Sophomore Summit program. This program is an immersive, full-day event that “seeks to prepare and welcome talented, diverse, emerging talent to a future career in the financial services industry”. College sophomores  are invited to speak with interns/campus program participants, learn directly from senior leaders across the company, participate in resume writing and mock interviewing workshops with members of the campus recruitment team, and have the chance to interview for a BNY Mellon internship program.

5. Identifying and collaborating with strategic partners

Our panelists also spoke about the importance of being intentional and finding the right partners to help you diversify your candidate pool. Working with these strategic partners can take your diversity recruitment efforts to the next level, often connecting you with candidates you otherwise wouldn’t have found through conventional recruiting methods. Below, you’ll find some of the excellent partners that our panelists work with to attract and retain Black talent and other diverse candidates:

Plus, see our full list of “Professional Organizations to Partner With to Recruit Black Talent” here.

By investing in DE&I efforts, you can foster a collaborative workplace where employees feel accepted, empowered, and engaged in your company’s mission for years to come. To learn more about how you can hire and retain Black talent and other diverse employees, be sure to check out our reports, Diversity in the Workplace & A Guide to Recruiting at HBCUs. You can also watch a recording of the full panel, “Prioritizing D&I: How Top Early Career Hiring Teams are Recruiting and Retaining Black Talent in 2023” here.


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