Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > No Excuses: Finding Diverse Candidates

No Excuses: Finding Diverse Candidates

October 2, 2020

By Brittney Hutson

It’s well documented that companies committed to hiring diverse talent see a positive ROI, but many still believe there is a limited pool of diverse candidates available or have difficulty creating a hiring process that attracts such candidates. Identifying and attracting diverse candidates requires a candid assessment about the underlying biases that exist within recruiting practices, as well as a dedicated and creative strategy.

For Dannis Mitchell, finding diverse candidates starts within the home. Mitchell leads clients and community engagement for Barton Malow Builders, which oversees building commercial and institutional projects and is an entity of the Barton Malow Family of Companies. Her team connects with parents through school districts so they understand the job opportunities that are available in the skilled trades. Mitchell’s team also connects with counselors and teachers. From there, Mitchell develops relationships with youth enrolled in high school. The sweet spot for identifying candidates to go into the trades are ages 18 to 24, she explains.

Another strategy that Mitchell says helps with recruiting is having people who look like the candidates they are trying to attract at career fairs and outreach events. “We’re able to allow the people who are doing the day to day work have conversations with our youth to tell them, ‘hey, there’s a real opportunity here.’”

As Human Resources Director for Barton Malow, Lisa Tolbert says the company is doing a self-reflection about how they can improve and be more intentional about recruiting efforts.

“LinkedIn is a great way to post jobs but are there other opportunities to post in areas that target underrepresented individuals?” Tolbert explains. “We’ve also talked about professional organizations that we can develop strategic partnerships with to increase awareness and exposure of opportunities at Barton Malow.”

Tolbert adds that she is also fascinated by the concept of culture contribution over culture fit. “When you hire for fit, that promotes the same,” she says. Instead, companies need to think about what the candidate has that the organization doesn’t already have and what’s unique about the candidate’s background or experience that could add value.

Brittany Hutson is a freelance writer in Metro Detroit.