Beyond the Myths

Gal Almog, CEO of diverse talent sourcing and retention solutions company Talenya discusses recruiting and retaining black talent.

Diversity and inclusion has become a top priority for many companies, and with good reason. According to Harvard Business Review, companies with higher-than-average diversity enjoy 19 per cent higher innovation revenues.

Given these benefits tech companies are attempting to increase the representation of Black employees in their workforce. But there are still misconceptions that are preventing process. One of these misperceptions is that Black employees tend to change jobs more frequently which negatively impacts recruitment efforts. For example, a recent study showed that Black professionals are 30 per cent more likely to leave their jobs compared to non-Black employees and that more than a third of Black employees left their positions within two years.

At my company Talenya, an AI-powered diverse talent sourcing solution, we put these findings to the test. We analysed over one million hiring profiles of software engineers to compare the average tenure of Black and non-Black employees. Software engineers provide an interesting case study because, due to the high demand to fill this position, their ability to frequently change jobs to seek higher paid positions is much higher overall.

The results: there was little difference between their tendency to job hop. Specifically, both Black and non-Black software engineers lasted an average 35 months. In fact, prior to their one-year mark. the study revealed only five per cent of Black and non-Black software engineers were likely to leave their current position. After 12 to 36 months, however, 62 per cent of Black employees are likely to leave their jobs compared to 59 per cent of non-Black employees.


What does this mean for recruiting?

  1. Timing Matters

The data indicates that HR departments need to foster an inclusive, inviting environment for Black software engineers in their first months to retain diverse talent. There is only one chance to make a good impression, and it can be difficult in a virtual environment, but companies have to be thoughtful about the ways in which they train, support and onboard employees. They need to find ways to support diverse talent and ensure their culture is open to various perspectives.


  1. Prioritise Internal Mobility

To improve retention, tech companies must strive to achieve better inclusion and appreciation of all employees. Companies can show their commitment to DE&I by auditing their internal mobility. When employers prioritise internal promotion and advancement, employees are more likely to stay.


  1. Broaden the Search Pool

Another way HR departments can achieve better diversity is by opening their search pool. Many companies have cited their failure to hire more diverse talent as a geographical issue, but the events of the last year have proved that the future of work will be remote (at least at some capacity). Companies can more easily source talent from anywhere with the benefit of remote work. The emergence of remote work is the perfect opportunity to turn long broken promises into tangible action.

Another Talenya study found that while only four per cent of software engineers are Black, there are cities with vastly disproportionate levels of Black talent.

Surprisingly, the US cities most well known for their tech innovation, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Boston, have smaller pools of Black software engineers. Only two per cent of software engineers were Black in San Francisco and New York compared to only one per cent in Los Angeles and Boston.

According to Talenya’s data, the cities with the highest percentage of Black software engineers are Atlanta, GA (eight per cent), Charlotte, NC (five per cent), Dallas, TX (four per cent), Detroit, MI (three per cent), and Raleigh, NC (three per cent).

In summary, Black engineers are loyal to their employers as much as non-Black engineers. In fact, the data indicates that a greater percentage of Black engineers tend to stay longer in their jobs.

To bolster their pool of qualified, diverse candidates, companies should take advantage of remote work options in cities with qualified and loyal talent. From there, it falls on HR leaders to ensure these employees stay connected and engaged beyond the onboarding process in order to improve long term retention.

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