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T2P38 – Race & Recruitment

Monday Motivation! Valentines is coming, as one of my friend’s kept going on about and so is the return of the premier league after what felt like an eternal winter break. Last Friday, I finally begun my first swimming lessons since primary school, and whoever said it’s like riding a bike is so wrong. Our instructor let us know not to worry, that some people float and others sink, I’ll leave it to you to figure out which group I belonged in. The headline of the week for me was over in my country of birth, America, but it pertained to an issue still experienced here in the UK. Severe shortcomings in the hiring of black staff in prominent positions, Brian Flores is suing the NFL for a pattern of racist hiring practices in the league. So for this week’s blog I’ll be writing about recruitment and the role race plays in it.

The purpose of recruitment at it’s core is to find the best candidate (s) for the roles available. The best candidate could be deemed as someone who already meets the criteria for the role or someone who demonstrates the potential to meet it. Yet, that candidate, especially the more senior the role is often not black. The 2019 UK Annual population survey confirms this:

  • The percentage of workers in ‘manager, director or senior official’ jobs – the type of occupations associated with higher socio-economic circumstances – was highest in the Indian (12.2%) and White British (11.7%) ethnic groups, and lowest in the Black ethnic group (5.4%)

Across the world in the US, it reads for a similar story:

  • Black people account for about 12% of the U.S. population, but occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions.

Companies continue to commit to making statements reiterating their aim to tackle this, but it feels like a lot of this is reactive rather than proactive. You can see this following the Brian Flores lawsuit, the NFL denied his case and acknowledged that it needed to do better to address it’s shocking low diversity in the league outside of players. The NFL has been applying the Rooney rule since 2003 as part of it’s hiring practice, which ensures that they interview a BAME candidate for Head Coaching (HC) and General Manager (GM) positions. Despite the rule the diversity in HC and GM positions in the league as low as ever and teams circumvent the rule, having candidates in mind but interviewing BAME candidates as formality. This happened in the hiring of Jon Gruden and now appears to have been repeated in the New York Giant’s hiring of Brian Daboll, it would be more surprising if there haven’t been more of these types of deals.

Brian Flores is considered by many a very good and promising coach, he’s young, engaging and experienced. The NFL have been trending to hiring these younger profiled coaches, as the game continues to evolve, a criteria that Brian Flores meets. From his interviews and his reputation in the league he is thought of highly, yet it’s still not enough for him to be considered more than a means of satisfying the Rooney rule. In the English football league the diversity across coaches in HC positions is even lower, there is 1 in the premier league (Patrick Viera) and as I write this there’s not a single 1 in the championship. So, of the top 2 English football leagues there’s 1 black HC, and I’d be surprised if that cracks double figures if I was to go down to the national league.

I don’t know what will solve the unconscious bias that plays a huge role in continuing to keeping qualified black candidates from top positions. I do know that diversity in the senior teams will help, bringing in the diversity of thought, in that instance it can be ensuring that the recruitment panel is not only white and offering a newer view when assessing candidates. Anyway, it’s Black History Month in America, so what a way for Brian Flores to kick it off! Whilst this may have seemed like a negative assessment of the current state of things, change is happening, and there are countless opportunities, you can easily be the person who breaks the barrier and demonstrates your talent is as above and beyond the rest

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