After Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf recently stated that there is “a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from,” I did a quick random search on LinkedIn and discovered quite a few Black professionals actively looking for work.

I decided to use my LinkedIn timeline to feature a few of those professionals.

For decades, companies nationwide have lamented about their inability to source Black talent, but statements like Mr. Scharf’s highlight much bigger problems that need to be addressed in order to find the abundance of high-quality Black talent trying to break down the barriers to access opportunities. Companies should be asking themselves the following questions:

Is our bias showing? Every company will say they want to hire the best candidate for the job, but who is the best candidate when our biases predetermine what the best candidate looks like? What image pops into your mind when you think of what a supervisor looks like? Or a C-suite professional?

How many of you actually envision a Black person as the leader at any level? Those unconscious biases directly affect recruiting and hiring practices and that needs to be addressed.

How strong is our social capital? Higher-level jobs are often filled through referrals, but Black professionals first need access to these power circles. How many Black professionals do you invite to your power circles, your golf games, cocktail parties or even the informal mentoring circles where you are grooming the next leaders?

How often do you use your social capital to make introductions for Black professionals so they can have access to decision-makers? It is imperative for leaders to step out of their comfort zone to meet and include Black professionals.

This is especially critical in the C-suite where your network is one of the many factors that determine who will move up through the invisible sieve that filters out many Black candidates.

Are we fishing in the wrong pond? Did you know there are 107 Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) with more than 228,000 of the country’s best and brightest students? How many of those HBCUs are on your recruiting list?

There are 12 community colleges in Connecticut; how many are on your recruiting list?

Oftentimes companies recruit at senior executives’ alma maters or schools regarded as top schools. This is clearly a message of exclusion as many of those institutions struggle with diverse representation in their student body. Don’t forget the many Black professional associations that exist to support the growth of black talent. Have you done more than sending job notices?

Who are we grooming? When companies hire Black professionals, is there a plan to groom and prepare them to move through and up the organization? Who is stepping forward to act as a sponsor? Who is addressing the systemic hindrances?

Unfortunately, in America there is story after story of Black talent who voice their experiences of being undermined, overlooked, and invalidated as they struggle to combat the unconscious biases, double standards, and racial stereotyping that obstruct their progress to advance within their organizations.

There are 2 million Black Americans over the age of 25 with advanced degrees, but only 4% of executive positions on S&P companies are occupied by Black professionals. How is that possible?

Black talent exists.

4 Comments

  1. Candace Freedenberg on October 26, 2020 at 9:06 AM

    Great article Karen. We all need to change who we visualize in roles! Thank you.

  2. LaShawn Alexander on October 27, 2020 at 1:03 PM

    You said it all. Great article and the CEO of Wells Fargo should read it as well. He couldn’t find us because he wasn’t looking.

  3. Lenore on October 28, 2020 at 11:38 AM

    What the ladies said prior to my post. I concur.
    Interesting I was in Wells Fargo yesterday.
    I may visit them again soon .

  4. Troy Mitchell on October 28, 2020 at 7:36 PM

    This article is extremely relevant to the historical ignorance of bias and the resistance to recognizing the systemic culture of bias, however, the current climate & articles like these are awakening more to that the ignorance of bias is a direct contributor to bottom-line loss and inefficiency in organizational effectiveness thus, the ignorance of bias is a detriment to the successful progression of us ALL!

    A clear example, an exemplary Black talent with 30 years of stellar service losing employ due to bias and has been unable to be hired in over 5 months in the field of public health in the midst of the worst public health crisis in history as if the need doesn’t exist!

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