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Dream Corps’ Rachel Pierce Burnside on Equity in Hiring

Jakob Gillmann
November 11, 2021

Covering the difference between equity and equality, and more.

New to hiring? No problem!
This article is the hiring 101 that will help you to hit the ground running.

In August 2021, we spoke with Rachel Lauren, Senior Director of People & Culture, Dream Corps and co-founder of boutique DE&I agency, Diversified. Rachel shared her thoughts on the difference between equity and equality, the different forms of bias, and that hiring criteria need to be equitable.

Rachel’s insights originally appeared alongside those of 11 other talent acquisition experts in our eBook, Reimagining Recruitment. You can download your own copy of our 50-page guide for free here

Here are our three favorite takeaways from our conversation with Rachel:

1. There’s a Big Difference between Equity and Equality 

“In years past, my profession was always referred to as diversity and inclusion, and equity was left out of the conversation. That has evolved into diversity, equity and inclusion — equity has to be a part of the conversation in order to even get to diversity. 

“Equity is about realizing that everyone is not on the same level playing field”

“The difference between equality and equity is when people say equality, they're saying that everyone's equal, that we're all starting out on the same level playing field. Unfortunately, that's not the case. 

“Systemic racism has made it that people of color are born with disadvantages and without access to opportunities. A lot of individuals in certain underrepresented communities don't know about educational opportunities, about career paths — they've never seen it in their community, so they don't know that it exists. 

“And so equity is really about realizing that everyone is not on the same level playing field and they don't start out with the same advantages. In order to fix the hiring process, you have to be committed to the systemic issues”

2. Bias Exists in Many Different Forms 

“What I really want people to understand is that we all have bias. It comes in different forms and looks different for everyone. Sometimes it’s conscious, and sometimes it’s unconscious.

“It could be based on name, and certain stereotypes that might be attached to certain demographics. There's also affinity bias. So a lot of times people will have a bias based on what is like them, what they can relate to, who looks like them, who sounds like them, who thinks like them.

“You want to have people that don't think like you, because that's how you find areas of opportunity”

“There's beauty bias. There are individuals who literally once they see you, in an interview, decide if they want to move forward or not — and it's just based on what they find to be physically attractive.

“It’s even as simple as liking the same sports team — you find commonalities with someone, and then it makes you feel like ‘they’ve got to be good because they're like me.’

“That's not going to benefit your organization or your team in the long run. It’s diverse thought that helps to drive business, you want to have people that don't think like you, because that's how you find areas of opportunity, find holes and actually find solutions. But when everyone thinks the same, you don't have you don't have the opportunity to do that.”

3. Hiring Criteria Need to Be Equitable

“When it comes to hiring under underrepresented communities, there really has to be a moment where the hiring manager or the organization stops to think about how they are supporting equity.

“There needs to be a reconsideration of what types of education are required”

“How can they ensure that the individuals they want to reach, and the job descriptions they’re posting, are being considered in a way that they're written correctly—in an equitable way? Are they considering qualifications as it relates to equity?

“When it comes to getting into schools, you’ve got to think about the education opportunities that individuals in certain underrepresented communities have been given. There needs to be a reconsideration of what types of education are required, and you'll notice that a lot of organizations are removing education requirements from job roles altogether.

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