At the outset of this series, we called into question the overwhelming focus on “white collar” or office workers in most HR and recruiting resources. We made the case for “blue-collar” workers as a valuable part of the overall workforce, encouraging talent acquisition teams to craft strategies specific to this segment. We looked at meeting these workers where they are and using recruiting technology to bridge gaps in processes. But what we haven’t talked about are the intricacies of this workforce, who they are beyond their job type.
The truth is, every job seeker is unique in both their background and path in life, which contributes directly to their experience as candidates. That said, at a time when diversity is top of mind for many employers, including those seeking to hire for operational and otherwise “blue-collar” positions, you can’t make the distinction between workforce segments without acknowledging other key differentiators. For instance, of the world’s 7.5 billion inhabitants, only 1.5 billion speak English – that’s only 20 percent. What about the other 80? English might be the de facto language for the business world, but that’s not necessarily the case on “blue-collar” job sites. Relying on Google Translate to communicate with non-English speaking candidates won’t necessarily result in a positive experience. We need to dig deeper and consider the role that language and cultural differences play in creating more inclusive employer brands – and recruiting. Here’s where to start:
Leverage insights to learn
If connecting with job seekers and workers on a more personal level is important to your organization, you will need to examine current hiring processes and subsequent outcomes. No one wants to believe that they or their company has biases, but it does happen. Being honest about shortcomings can help identify what needs to change if you’re willing to admit where the faults lie. Improvements rarely happen overnight, so begin with what you know about the organization first and use this information to your advantage.
Workforce insights prompt movement, explained Deloitte, in describing the diversity, equity, and inclusion advancement of Edison International and its subsidiary, Southern California Edison. As a regulated utility, SCE falls mostly in the “blue-collar” space, providing 15 million people with electricity across a service territory of 50,000 square miles in Southern California. To reinforce its commitment, the company launched listening tours to understand the experiences of employees, completed a gender-focused study on pay, announced a series of actions to advance social and economic equity in its local communities, and started to publish data on representation to its website.
Assess your existing workforce and recruiting methods to get a sense of what’s happening now. Find out what languages your workers speak at home and on the job, learn more about the communities they live in and their cultural backgrounds, knowing all of these factors impact the work they do. Think about how this info relates to recruiting practices, from referral programs to technologies, to see if and where there are discrepancies to fix.
Create fair experiences for all
Deloitte wrote, “Understanding the workforce is the first step to aligning their behavior with organizational objectives in ways that recognize workers’ needs, develop their capabilities, and respect their values and those of the organization.” Once you have a baseline in place, adjust hiring accordingly. “Blue-collar” recruiting is sometimes associated with high volume practices, but that is no excuse to sacrifice the individual experience. As many organizations hire for both “blue-collar” and “white-collar” roles, address any issues with resource expenditure upfront to ensure candidates receive the same treatment and respect.
Then, look at representative population recruiting and similar strategies, taking a page from corporate America where needed, to create fairer experiences. Remove unintentionally biased wording from job descriptions and advertisements to invite more candidates to apply. If English is a second language for the population you’re hiring, get all recruiting and employment materials translated. Explain your process to candidates clearly and concisely. Include people with diverse backgrounds on the recruiting team. Use technology with native multi-language support to ensure seamless engagements with applicants from start to finish.
And finally, craft culture and processes around the people that work for you, rather than the other way around.
In 2020, many U.S. companies added Juneteenth, a day recognizing the emancipation of those enslaved, to their official paid holiday schedules. Nike remarked that the observation presented the opportunity “to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.” No matter the space or industry, organizations can do better by being better during every candidate and worker interaction. That means being intentional, translating values into action, and using the insights gathered to deliver experiences that represent the organization.