This one’s especially for the recruiters and hiring managers. I saw a phrase on LinkedIn the other day and it really struck me: “homogeneity hire”. It turned out it came from this tweet from Braveen Kumar.
I immediately knew what it meant, and I kept chuckling at the irony throughout the day. Here’s why.
When teams and companies start getting more intentional about broadening their staff team to include those from different backgrounds, there’s often pushback about “diversity hires”, as though that’s bad.
But the truth is that if you are a Black or Brown person, you have probably had to work twice as hard and be twice as qualified to get the minimum your white colleagues take for granted. This isn’t just my perception, by the way. There are plenty of studies that back this up. So being a so-called “diversity hire” likely means you had to be excellent to make it through the door.
On the other hand, “homogeneity hires” can do half as much to gain twice as much. They’re the people hired because they look like the hiring team, because they went to similar schools, and because people feel comfortable with them. Or at least members of the hiring team feel comfortable with the fact that they won’t have to challenge their perceptions or actions at all.
The “homogeneity hires” are the people who are less qualified than the Black and Brown people they manage. They’re the ones getting promoted after spending their days on Facebook while their Black and Brown colleagues toil unnoticed and unrewarded. And they’re the ones coming in late and leaving early and yet somehow managing to be “really good people” who “fit the culture” of the team.
Other examples of homogeneity hiring include picking people who are family members, or who are members of the same fraternity or sorority, or the same club. Someone in the same Twitter thread also called these “comfort hires”. Hiring on similarity rather than talent is not only questionable morally, but it makes no business sense.
In companies, going only for “culture fit” is always a problem. The trouble is that when everyone looks the same and thinks the same, the company doesn’t benefit from innovation and creativity. The way Black and Brown people experience the world gives them (us) insights that would never occur to a “homogeneity hire”. Fail to diversify your hiring and you’re missing out on this knowledge. (Plus your team page is going to be monochromatic, which will stop many Black and Brown people from even applying.)
There’s no value at all in everything staying the same. Why not start by thinking beyond the white box, saying no to more “homogeneity hires”, and inviting people who don’t come from the same mold into your workplace? You might learn something.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.