Jobs for Humanity Aims to Help Underserved Job Seekers

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer March 29, 2021
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​Employment-matching site Jobs for Humanity launched March 22 to connect historically underrepresented talent to employers.

The site is free for employers and candidates. Once job seekers apply, volunteers screen candidates and present the top resumes to employers. The Jobs for Humanity team also plans to conduct free training for recruiters and hiring managers so they can expand their diversity and inclusion efforts. Roy Baladi

Jobs for Humanity is the brainchild of SmartRecruiters alum Roy Baladi, who was inspired by the blueprint that was used to create Jobs for Lebanon, a resource he started when a financial crisis devastated his native Lebanon in 2019.

Baladi discussed his recruiting project with SHRM Online, including how the job creation movement can improve diversity recruiting and help close equality gaps in hiring.

SHRM Online: What is the vision for Jobs for Humanity?
Baladi: We envision a just world where everyone has the opportunity to live a dignified life. But the world is not just. In fact, injustice is ingrained in our history. And even though we've come a long way in terms of equality and justice, we have a long way to go. Today, millions of people across the world are led to believe that they have less worth than others—for reasons that are irrelevant and beyond their control.
For example, inheriting a gene that causes blindness, growing up in an economically depressed neighborhood, having a developmental or learning "disorder," or becoming a refugee due to extraordinary circumstances. These people have been sidelined from the workforce, which is hugely unfortunate since a job is more than a paycheck. It's the basis for a dignified life.

At Jobs for Humanity, we've started a global movement of job creation for overlooked communities: Black leaders, the blind, the neurodivergent, refugees, returning citizens and single mothers. We make it easy for companies to access diverse talent through community-specific job boards, identify the most qualified candidates using cutting-edge recruiting technology, and offer expert training to candidates and hiring managers to ensure successful onboarding and retention.

SHRM Online: Why did you focus on these six groups?
Baladi: There are so many communities that need the kind of support we're offering. But we chose these six causes as a starting point for the following reasons:

Black leaders: Despite having reached the apex in almost every field—from politics and business, to the arts, culture and professional sports—unemployment in the Black community is double the U.S. national average. This can be attributed to the fact that racism and discrimination are still very much woven into the global fabric.

Blind and vision-impaired: 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. Try Googling jobs for the blind—there are barely any. For this community, unemployment is at 38 percent, which is six times the national and global average. As a countermeasure, we've partnered with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Be My Eyes to offer expert-led training and the right assistive technologies to companies.

Neurodivergent: Almost 1 billion people on earth are neurodivergent, a term that refers to a variation in brain composition that affects things like learning, sociability and mood. Most people don't know what it means to be neurodivergent, yet some of history's most influential individuals were just that: Einstein, Newton and countless other geniuses. For this community, the underemployment rate is a whopping 80 percent. To aid them, we've partnered with Vanderbilt University's Frist Center for Autism and Innovation and Spectrum's Accessibility Center of Excellence to train employers on how to create safe spaces for neurodivergent talent.

Refugees: When watching the news, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that refugees are human beings who, through absolutely no fault of their own, experienced horrors that few can even imagine. The majority of refugees were working professionals before they were forced to flee their homes. They still have marketable, valuable skills. They just need the chance to apply them.

Returning citizens: I witnessed the most profound life transformations I've ever seen when I started volunteering at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. Most men in prison grew up in extremely difficult circumstances. And, after a few missteps, they were forced to pay a steep price. However, many of them have worked incredibly hard on making their amends to society and healing themselves. Those who have paid their dues to society deserve a second chance. Currently, we're working with Hustle 2.0 and Defy Ventures—two organizations with proven records of helping returning citizens reintegrate into society.

Single mothers: 88 percent of single parents are moms, and 1 in 7 adult women on earth are raising children all alone—on a single income. In the U.S., 12 million mothers are raising 16 million children with a median income of $35,000 per year. For comparison, the national household average income is around $80,000 per year.

SHRM Online: How does Jobs for Humanity aid recruiters?
Baladi: The biggest gap recruiters face is the knowledge it takes to hire and create a safe environment for these individuals. What jobs can blind people do? How do I communicate effectively with someone who has autism? How do I offer flexibility for a single mom? How do I keep my unconscious bias in check?

We've created practical training sessions for each of these causes and offer them to anyone who's hiring, especially recruiters in participating companies.
Some of the main topics our trainings address include:

  • How to identify and address the top challenges in hiring someone from an overlooked community. 
  • Best practices for interviewing.
  • How to look for skill and potential.
  • Reasonable accommodations and assistive technologies.
  • The best way to follow up with candidates.
  • How to onboard successfully.
  • How to maintain a safe and inclusive work environment.

SHRM Online: Can you provide a brief update on Jobs for Lebanon?
Baladi: At the end of 2019 and start of 2020, banks in Lebanon went bankrupt. People could no longer withdraw their money, and the local currency plummeted. This meant that people could barely pay for rent, groceries, school tuition or employee salaries. They couldn't travel. They were stuck. Jobless.

A few Lebanese expats, myself included, decided to call out to the global diaspora to create jobs for Lebanese locals, and thus Jobs for Lebanon was born. In a year, despite COVID-19 and the horrendous explosion in Beirut in August, we managed to attract expats from 176 countries who posted 1,500 jobs. Over 10,000 people applied, almost 200 people got hired, and we're aiming to triple those numbers in 2021. This inspired me to think more globally about causes that really need support.

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