Diversity Candidates Demand Growth Opportunities

Employers need to be sensitive to the unique issues that can influence the career decisions of ethnically diverse job candidates, particularly when it comes to factors beyond salary and benefits.

Monster's recent study on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce – "A Changing Landscape: The Effect of Age, Gender and Ethnicity on Career Decisions" – looks the commonalities and key differences across different employee groups. Human resources and diversity professionals can use this information to gain insight for building recruitment and retention programs.

Growth opportunities

While employees of all backgrounds tend to define the criteria for a worthwhile job opportunity in similar ways, employees from ethnically diverse backgrounds (primarily defined to include African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans) have additional concerns that dramatically affect their career decisions.

In particular, diverse employees place a greater weight on finding a job with growth potential than Caucasian employees. Ethnically diverse employees, especially African-Americans, are more likely than Caucasians to emphasize the importance of career development, whether through training or promotion, when considering a new job.

The following key trends emerged from the Monster study:

  • 41% of ethnically diverse employees take into account whether the company is part of a growing industry, whereas 25% of Caucasians select this as a deal-maker.
  • African-Americans (80%) are more likely than Caucasians (63%) to feel opportunities to move up in an organization are important when deciding to accept a new job (that is, rated 8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point scale, where 1 means not important and 10 means extremely important).
  • African-Americans (79%) feel more strongly than Caucasians (64%) about the importance of training and continued learning (8-10 on the same 10-point scale).

Similarly, a lack of emphasis on career development and advancement can cause ethnically diverse employees to consider leaving a job. For instance:

  • African-Americans (28%), Hispanics (25%) and Asian-Americans (27%) list a lack of training and/or professional development as a reason to consider leaving a job (compared to 17% of Caucasians).
  • Hispanics are more likely than others to mention "few opportunities to move up in the company" (41%).

Employers' commitment levels

Likely reflecting their focus on finding a job with growth potential, a majority of diverse candidates look at what types of policies and programs a targeted employer might have to support their diversity efforts.

How other diverse employees have fared within the organization serves as an indicator to how much opportunity exists there. When diverse employees are deciding whether to accept a new job, half or more say they take into account the people already working for the organization. African-Americans (59%), Hispanics (61%) and Asian-Americans (61%) say that "working with other employees like me" rates highly in their decision-making process. When specifically asked about diversity, a majority of African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American employees agree that when considering job opportunities, it is important that the organization already has a diverse workforce.

However, it is not only important to see diversity in an organization, but rather to see it reflected in management and upper management. 88% of African-American employees agreed that it is important to see people like themselves in leadership positions at work. By comparison, 86% of Asian-Americans and 80% of Hispanics agree, versus 75% of Caucasians.

This study further found that while diverse employees are generally satisfied (79%) with their companies' efforts to hire people of different races and ethnicities, fewer (69%) are satisfied with their efforts to retain and promote them. Moreover, they express a deep concern that prejudice will stall their possibilities for advancement.

82% of African-Americans feel that "it is still a challenge for racial minorities to join top management" in today's workplace.

Majorities of Asian-American (71%) and Hispanic (62%) employees also see this as a "reality" today, compared to 45% of Caucasians.

Strategies for success

While ethnically diverse employees share many of the same concerns as the rest of the population, historical barriers within the workplace and discriminatory practices have led them to assess career changes with more scrutiny. Diverse employees look to organizations to provide a challenging environment with a clear path for development and success. As a result, companies recruiting diverse talent must first look within to ensure that they have a culturally receptive environment where everyone can advance.

The Monster study highlights four strategies necessary to succeed in this area:

  • Measure the organization's diversity climate.
  • Develop policies and programs to communicate diversity commitment.
  • Establish and clearly communicate succession plans.
  • Work to ensure that senior management of company is diverse.