July 27, 2020

How Recruiters Can Show Up for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives


In light of recent events across the United States, we have spent the last few weeks reflecting on our work experiences and wondering how we can show up as individual contributors to enable the change that is long overdue in our country.

We have come to realize that, in our role as independent recruiters and as female business owners, we have an opportunity to make a distinct difference. Our clients and candidates, too, can work with us to make a difference together.

Don’t Discount Candidates Just Because Their Profiles Lack Pictures

According to LinkedIn, having a profile picture makes it much more likely that your profile will be viewed — as much as 14 times more likely. And yet, not everyone posts a photo on their profile. Why is that?

In our experience, people often forgo a profile photo for one of two reasons: The individual is often a person of color or they are an older professional in the later stages of their career. In either case, an experienced and talented individual is hiding their race, age, and/or gender because they worry they may not be fairly considered for a job opportunity otherwise. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true.

The good news, however, is that more and more companies are waking up to the systemic discrimination that exists in our society, and they are committing to building more diverse workforces to help combat that discrimination. We encourage candidates to take advantage of this opportunity and add pictures of themselves to their profiles, even if fears of discrimination have held them back in the past.

We also encourage employers and recruiters to think carefully about why some candidates don’t include photos on their profiles. If you typically disqualify candidates for not having profile photos, it’s time to change that policy. Take this moment in history to show the world you’re taking action, not just issuing press releases. Ensure you are considering all profiles that match your searches — whether those profiles have pictures or not.

Advocate Fair Pay for Every Candidate

As recruiters, we often encounter wage gaps between nearly identically qualified candidates. Here’s an example: Two women are applying for the same job. One is white, one is a woman of color. Almost always, the white woman will ask for and/or receive a significantly higher salary — in some cases, double what the woman of color requests. Often, this higher salary is the going market rate.

We recruiters must work to ensure that all of our candidates are aware of the market rates for their roles. We must push for equality in pay rates among similarly qualified candidates, regardless of skin color, age, or gender. If a candidate’s salary requirements are misaligned with their skills and experiences, we need to help them formulate a more appropriate request. We also encourage candidates to ask every recruiter they work with to be transparent about salaries and market values.

We also ask that employers jointly commit to closing the wage gap with us. No company should be paying different salaries to equally qualified candidates for the same role. If you have a candidate who doesn’t know to ask for a higher salary, don’t pocket the difference between their asking salary and what you might have paid someone else. Pay every candidate what they are due based on their skills and years of experience.

Think Outside the Box — and Encourage Employers to Do the Same

Not long ago, we worked with an employer to complete a long interview process with a candidate that resulted in a job offer. Our candidate was thrilled.

At the last second, however, the employer asked the candidate if she had a car. The candidate explained that she had access to a shared car and would have no issue getting to work each day.

We then got a call from the employer, who now wanted to rescind the offer. We worked with the employer and convinced them to let the candidate start as planned. She ended up being a wonderful addition to the organization, arriving on time each day — even without her own car.

Candidates, we want you to know something: If we speak to you about a job and we’re confident you can do it, we’ll fight for you. We know it doesn’t matter how you get to the office as long as you get there. We know it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a four-year degree, as long as you’ve clearly demonstrated you can do the job. We will continue to push employers to think outside the box when considering candidates who come from non-traditional paths, and we encourage other recruiters to do the same for their candidates.

To employers: Some candidates don’t have the background you may have envisioned for a particular role, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do the work. Start considering candidates who may have taken more unique journeys to get where they are today. Thinking outside of the box will help you make great additions to your team and hire top candidates you may have otherwise missed.

The above are just a few examples of systemic discrimination we have encountered during our recruiting careers. If we two have had these issues, imagine how many other challenges recruiters and candidates have faced.

When we encounter discriminatory situations like the ones above, we have an opportunity as recruiters to make things right. We will continue to do so to the best of our abilities. Will you — candidates, employers, and fellow recruiters — commit to the same?

Rebecca Kimber and Carrie Turner are partners at The Socium Group.

Read more in Discrimination

Rebecca Kimber brings a unique combination of recruiting and technology consulting experience to the recruiting industry. During her tenure with Cambridge Technology Partners and PwC, Rebecca worked with software developers, technical architects, and quality assurance engineers to ensure business requirements were translated into viable technical solutions. As a functional lead and project manager, Rebecca gained in-depth knowledge of the technical staffing requirements for large, complex system implementations. She now leverages this knowledge to help other organizations find the right IT resources to meet their needs. Carrie Turner applies her management consulting and executive search experience to help find the right talent in management disciplines including organizational change management, supply chain, process improvement/six sigma, and strategy. As a former organizational change manager at BearingPoint, Carrie worked closely with stakeholders at all levels, from the C-suite to staff, in both commercial and federal organizations. She leverages a deep and wide network across industries and functions to find the right candidate for an organization's needs.