The racial gaps that exist between White and Black Americans are astounding. From social injustices to economic disparities, Black Americans face significant challenges trying to thrive in life each day. Fortunately, we can all play a role in deconstructing racism, discrimination, and the many other injustices they face.
HR professionals, specifically, can create a welcoming and supportive work environment for Black Americans. This will contribute to a better economic state and encourage all Americans to appreciate differences and look at them as a benefit to our entire world.
Improving black labor market outcomes is highly dependent on our acknowledgment of their current state. Improvement is also dependent on a commitment by organizations to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
First, let’s learn a bit about the economic state of Black America.
The Current Economic State of Black America
One of the most significant challenges impacting the current economic state of Black America is the pay gap.
“Today the median annual wage for Black workers is approximately 30 percent, or $10,000, lower than that of white workers,” according to Mckinsey Global Institute. “[It’s] a figure with enormous implications for household economic security, consumption, and the ability to build wealth. Black workers make up 12.9 percent of the US labor force today but earn only 9.6 percent of total US wages.”
In other words, Black people receive far less money than their white coworkers. Much of the wage gap centers around the manufacturing, financial services, construction, professional services, trade, transportation, and utilities industries.
The quality of education Black students receive also contributes to a complex economic landscape for Black America. They still don’t receive the same access to internships, mentorship programs, afterschool activities/clubs, and so forth, all of which contribute significantly to becoming financially independent as an adult.
Lower quality education, lack of personal and professional development resources, and accessibility issues also lead to underrepresentation in higher-paying industries. Although entrepreneurship is rising among Black Americans and, in turn, bettering representation rates in specific industries, there’s still a long way to go.
In light of this research on the current economic state of Black America, the U.S. must do many things to address and resolve these economic challenges wholly. All companies across all industries can start in their recruiting processes.
Three Actionable Tips for Employers to Better Address the Issues Black America Faces
Recruiting and hiring with diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your process creates a workplace environment that supports Black Americans.
Address the issues Black workers face by implementing the following:
Offer Personal and Professional Development Opportunities
Ensure that you offer personal and professional development opportunities specific to Black workers and share them in the recruiting process. They face particular challenges like racism and discrimination, which undoubtedly affect how they develop personally and professionally. So, ensuring they have allies to confide in and support systems that are mindful of their specific circumstances is beneficial.
For example, Black people only account for a small percentage of the STEM workforce. Therefore, HR professionals in tech companies could share professional development opportunities like internships and mentorship programs with Black candidates.
Set Up Employees for Financial Success
Black Americans struggle with managing debt. And that negatively affects their ability to save for the future and pursue next-level financial options like investing. So, resources that aid long-term wealth would be especially attractive to Black workers.
For example, if you don’t offer a 401(k) option for employees, there are other ways to contribute to their long-term wealth. Like encouraging them to take their retirement savings and investments into their own hands by opening an Individual Retirement Account.
Create an Inclusive Work Environment
To improve Black labor market outcomes in the long-term, you must create an inclusive work environment in your company. Start by eliminating any unconscious biases in the recruiting process. For example, not moving forward with specific applications because of names, location, or lack of educational background.
Then create an intentionally diverse workplace that respects individuals of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, abilities, and so forth so that Black employees will stay long term by:
- Drafting and implementing inclusivity policies
- Reforming the recruitment process with methods that attract workers of all ages, cultural backgrounds, races, and abilities
- Partaking in job fairs, career days, campus activities, and so forth in underrepresented communities
- Designating someone as the resource for anything to do with diversity and inclusion
- Making an effort to speak with each person in your workforce and gauge their commitment to diversity and inclusion
Ultimately, it will take time to improve black labor market outcomes. But you can begin to do your part by diversifying your company with the above tips.