An Inc. 5000 Company, a Google Certified Partner, a multimillion-dollar agency, with a contemporary impressive office space adjacent to the trendiest places in Atlanta, a roster of notable big-name clients, and yet there is one thing missing. A face to the name.
Rebranding and revamping a website to embody the growth and success of your business while attracting new clients should be an exciting and rewarding sign of a further developing company, and yet there is one factor in this process that is the most daunting. Not the style and design, not the user experience and engagement, but the elephant on the website- the About Us and Team Photo page.
In the wake of racial injustice and rising tensions in our country, there is a very specific place where the lack of diversity is loud but often not addressed. It is visible in our jobs, in our offices, and to our teams. It is hidden in plain sight, and it speaks volumes to clients, stakeholders, and greatly impacts recruiting whether you know it or not. It is the team page on your website and the key component that is missing, this is the absence of diversity with faces of Black employees and people of color. This issue became even more daunting for our team given recent events of social injustice and police brutality. As our team grew to incorporate diverse talent from various backgrounds across generations of Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z thought leaders and highly qualified professionals in their own right, the common denominator is that we are all Black. Now, this was not done by design, as our hiring practices incorporate intensive recruiting efforts across diverse platforms and networks, scoring metrics, and three rounds of interviews which encompass behavioral review questions and a skills assessment.
In the process of creating our recruiting practices and establishing our presence to potential candidates, one thing was evidently clear when researching other companies, and this was the lack of diversity among most corporations. We established the three core competencies of our organization to ensure that we hired new team members who scored well in the categories of competency, culture, and capacity. One major consideration in this process is how we as a company would be considered by potential candidates and clients based on the visible presence and persona of our team. These caused us to raise several questions and found us wondering if all organizations, particularly predominately companies lead by the majority if not all White leadership asked the same questions. As we recruited, hired, and trained, we asked ourselves, “do we remain in the shadows?”, “will the fact that we are Black impact client relationships and procure new clients?” “will our own lack of racial diversity negatively affect us, or will our talent speak for itself?” And the biggest question of them all, “do our White counterparts give equal thought and consideration to this issue, or is it an issue at all to our contemporaries?”
These are just a few questions we posed and debated as a team, so now we open the dialogue for a transparent evaluation of the impact company team pages have on the morale and psyche of Black employees and corporate company culture.
Are corporations unconsciously biased against doing business with an all-Black company or by companies who lack diversity on their websites?
This question speaks to the hidden bias and possibility of discrimination that potential clients may have during the vendor selection and procurement process based on race. This notion is very similar to that of imposing prejudice on job applicants during recruiting based on names of ethnic origin. The differentiator, in this case, is going beyond name placement to boldly display the images of Black and Brown employees as the face of a company and debating if it will negatively impact new business opportunities.
How does showing/not showing the faces of Black employees and People of Color affect recruiting?
The truth is that people, especially people of color look for themselves when looking at organizations. There are several schools of thought for the lack of diversity when recruiting. Some argue that there are geographic factors to consider given that there are visibly far less Black people and People of Color in places such as Iowa, Washington State and many other regions of the country in comparison to Atlanta, GA where were are officed, but the question remains if this is an issue of qualified candidacy or recruiting and marketing with the clear intention of diversity to fill open positions within an organization. What deliberate actions are taken in your own company to widen the candidate pool for diversity?
Why do we have to hide our faces to not affect our business?
We understand that the first step in addressing the issue of potential bias or the fear of bias is to openly discuss it, internally and externally. Although we initially concluded to refrain from posting team photos on the website, we now approach it with a new level of understanding to not only enhance our company culture and morale but to shed light on an issue that many companies discuss in boardrooms behind closed doors.
So, as companies are choosing the side of history they will be on, our question to you is do you consider the impact of the photos on your company team page? Does the presence or lack of diversity on the team photo page affect you and your company culture?
Please share your comments, and let’s continue having tough conversations to move forward.