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Historically Black Colleges and Universities Draw Employers' Interest

A group of women in graduation gowns and diplomas.

​The hiring rate for graduates of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) shot up an average 5.9 percent a year from 2016 through 2019, according to the latest Workforce Report from LinkedIn. That is above the 1.3 percent average yearly growth rate for graduates from non-HBCU schools, it found.

"Quietly, HBCUs and their alumni have emerged as stars in the never-ending U.S. hunt for talent," the report stated. "During the past five years, the hiring-rate trend for alumni of the 105 HBCUs has consistently outpaced similar data for overall LinkedIn U.S. membership."

Organizations that want to be more diverse and inclusive—answering societal calls for racial justice and equity in 2020—are looking for sources of job candidates they may not have considered when recruiting in the past, such as HBCUs. 

"Every year, more than 300,000 students turn to HBCUs for their education and to prepare them for their careers—I've seen firsthand how they truly fuel America's workforce with much-needed talent," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management, past president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and a longtime member of the President's Board of Advisors on HBCUs.


"They are critically important in closing our country's skills gap, bringing unique perspectives and experiences to the workplace, and fostering strong and supportive work ethics," Taylor continued. "COVID-19 has hit the higher education community hard, and the pandemic will impact HBCUs. It's more important than ever to support these institutions and recognize their contributions to our communities, companies and society at large." 


SHRM Online has collected the following stories and resources on this topic: 


Even in a Tough 2020, Black-College Alumni Again Topped U.S. Hiring Trend

Everyone is scurrying to connect with Harold Bell these days. He's the director of career planning and development at Spelman College, one of the best-known of the United States' 105 HBCUs. Big banks recruit from Spelman. So do leading tech firms, consulting firms, grad schools, the State Department and more. At a virtual event a few months ago, 137 organizations crowded into a group call that Bell organized, clamoring for a chance to talk to the eight Spelman students in attendance.

Four Reasons Why 2020 Was the Year of the HBCU 

HBCUs have long battled strong headwinds. They are chronically underfunded compared to other public institutions. Their endowments are smaller than most private schools. And, like many colleges, they are grappling with declining enrollments. Because most HBCUs are small, they typically have little cushion to absorb decreased revenue.

But 2020 saw HBCUs receive increasing and much-deserved support. Policymakers paid more attention to their missions, social issues raised awareness about their importance, noteworthy alums captured national headlines, and several historical firsts were achieved. Here are four reasons why 2020 will be remembered as a noteworthy year for HBCUs.

Why Companies Are Expanding Recruitment at Historically Black Colleges

Pledges to commit to racial diversity and inclusion, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, are factors contributing to the rise in recruitment of students from HBCUs. Virtual job interviews and career fairs are making it easier for companies to reach out to a wider variety of schools, including those with more Black students. 
(Wall Street Journal

8 Diversity Recruiting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

Companies must commit to their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and hiring is one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle, said Liz Wessel, CEO and co-founder of WayUp, a New York City-based jobs site and resource center for college students and recent graduates. 

"Most employers think that the reason they aren't hiring enough diverse people is because of a 'top of funnel' problem—not getting enough diverse applicants," she said. "However, in most cases, an equally big problem is the funnel itself, meaning they have parts of their hiring process and criteria that don't bode well for underrepresented candidates."
(SHRM Online

HR Tech's Expanded Role in Supporting DE&I Initiatives 

Technology is playing a larger role than ever in helping organizations support and scale their diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives, according to a new study from RedThread Research, an HR research and advisory firm in Woodside, Calif. More HR and diversity leaders have shifted their focus from gender to race and ethnicity over the past two years, and more DE&I technology providers are deploying artificial intelligence as a way to help mitigate bias in talent decisions, the study found.
(SHRM Online)  

Hire HBCU Talent 

The HBCU Career Center helps employers reach organizational goals through a robust job board that includes broad distribution of job announcements. It was founded in 2007 for students and professionals "underrepresented and left out of the expensive career management market," according to its website. It offers career and job-search resources, as well as a job and internship board to connect employers with talent. Across channels, it has 70,000 monthly viewers, 55,529 followers and 7,100 subscribers. 
(The HBCU Career Center)  

Other SHRM resources:
Quiz: Do Your Hiring Practices Attract Diverse Candidates?, SHRM Quiz


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.