Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has never been more important than now. Many organizations treat it as a nice to have. Some leaders will say: "we hire the best and we don't discriminate on any basis." The problem with both the "inshallah" method and the "no outreach" method of talent management is that an organization will limit its options for robust talent acquisition and development. "Inshallah" is Arabic for "if God wills it". In other words: fate. Do you really want to leave the strength of your team over the long-run to fate?
When it comes to skilled trades talent, the supply is so imbalanced with the demand that everybody loses if robust outreach efforts are not executed. The traditionally underrepresented populations (women, African-American, etc.) lose because the deck is stacked in favor of those that know someone in a trade. So, the less of a certain group of people, the less chances they will know someone. It's a vicious cycle. Companies lose because they continue to struggle with the lack of supply. Companies lose again when their pool of potential employees is artificially limited by traditional barriers to entry for underrepresented populations. If you want an all-star team on the field, you want to select from the top tier and have the most people to choose from.
What simple framework can a company follow to improve the diversity and inclusion in its ranks? The following lists very simple and low cost actions to start improving Diversity and Inclusion in your organization right now.
Minimum Experience Required
Over the years, I have occasionally heard people lament about: "how am I supposed to get work experience if the job posting requires previous experience?" Job description requirements like this, especially when written as "2-5 years" or "1-3 years" can definitely reinforce barriers to improving diversity in various trades and professions. A junior or entry level role is just that. One or two years of experience will not make a significant difference over the long-run. The employee with the stronger underlying abilities, attitude, aptitude, and competencies will have greater potential for advancement. Do not include this type of job description verbiage.
The Marketing function isn't only for getting products and services to customers. In the war for talent, Human Resources professionals and recruiters have to be aware of basic Marketing principles and employ them effectively to attract and retain talent. One of these basics is channel development or outreach. If you only use Indeed, the radio, the newspaper, and other broad-based channels, you are following the "Inshallah" method of advertising to reach potential applicants. If God wills it, we will get the diverse applicant pool that we deserve, right? Not good.
Good outreach requires understanding your local labor market and leveraging the mediums that reach a high concentration of the targeted demographic. Just as important is the use of the relevant advertising collateral. For example, if I want to increase the number of women in my construction company, I would establish relationships with the non-profit organizations that already have touch points among women in construction. In my messaging or ads, I would want to have examples of my female employees in the pictures (collateral).
With TradesFactor, companies get the advantage of the outreach partnerships that TradesFactor has already established. For example, when TradesFactor works with pre-apprenticeship programs focused on getting more women into the skilled trades, any companies using the TradesFactor platform save themselves the effort of doing their own outreach.
Contractors bidding on government projects are required to conduct "good faith efforts" for outreach to disadvantaged communities and small businesses. Hiring on TradesFactor.com would qualify a contractor to receive credit for all hiring costs as good faith efforts. And it's not just effort. They are in fact results.
To effectively grow talent with minimal experience, you have to make the commitment to train. This doesn't have to be an expensive incremental expense. Hire this pre-apprentice talent as helpers. Budget a bit more time for more experienced talent to teach and let helpers get deliberate practice. Larger organizations would have more robust development programs and internal training. But, you don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to train. Over the long-run, growing your own talent actually costs you less than buying talent in the labor market. Think about it. If you can get a Helper or an Apprentice to do the work, that hourly rate is much less than a Journeyman, for example.
OK. We are doing outreach (properly). We are committed to training. We removed any minimum experience requirements from our job posting. How do I hire strong talent when there's no previous experience to even talk about with the candidate? My practical skills testing is useless because inexperienced candidates can't even come close to passing the test. Enter aptitude testing. Colleges and the military have been using aptitude testing for decades to gauge the potential of a candidate for success. What is this going to cost? With TradesFactor, it is absolutely free!
When a company evaluates a prospective candidate on TradesFactor.com, the mechanical aptitude testing is included as part of the cost of connecting with the skilled trades worker. This prevents harassment of workers by recruiters that cold call. It helps companies pay only when they are on the market to hire workers. (This cost is already in your annual "Recruiting/Hiring Expenses" budget account).
By relying on aptitude instead of previous experience, companies can level the playing field when it comes to talent acquisition and select the most promising talent for hire.
Legal Said No Testing of Applicants
Some companies may take a view that conducting testing of applicants is a risk. Validated aptitude testing is legal. Remember, colleges and the military have been using the ASVAB, the ACT, and the SAT for decades. The test used must very much be a statistically validated test. You don't want to make up your own test.
Even with these details established, Legal still said no testing of applicants? Here's another key point that makes TradesFactor special: the skilled trades workers on TradesFactor.com are not applicants to any company! A worker in TradesFactor is not an applicant until they actually submit an application to your company. Companies can source workers on TradesFactor.com. Workers may express interest in certain companies' opportunities. But a worker is only an applicant when they actually complete your application. This arms' reach relationship has many advantages for a company's risk reduction efforts.
Fix your job descriptions. Commit to training. Let TradesFactor provide the outreach and aptitude testing.