America is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic. But the same problems remain.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

As I have spoken to friends over the past few months about how their job prospects look like and what they were experiencing in pandemic interviewing, familiar theme kept coming back up that people were complaining about. It was that recruiters had continued their age old practice of simply interviewing candidates of ethnic backgrounds for the purpose of "checking the box" of their diversity initiatives.

That led me to think about the moments in which people of color have always been on the hook for educating their white colleagues about racism and given the protests last summer when George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin and the continued violence against black bodies. One company after another kept releasing statements and pledging to do better when it came to combatting systemic racism. But did it really live up to what they promised?

It certainly does dishearten me to think that recruiters are still out there giving candidates false hope about employment in an economy that continues to show weakness and continues to show the rate at which women, particularly Black and Latino women continue to face high rates of unemployment and the burden of unpaid labor in the domestic parts of their lives. As more and more Americans get vaccinated, and the economy attempts to rebound from the year-long impact of COVID-19, we see the ways in which people are continuing to struggle with finding a job that can provide for their families.

In the jobs report published in December 2020, it was found that 140,000 jobs were lost. A large bulk of the jobs lost were held by women of color.

According to Bloomberg:

The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs last month, largely in the leisure and hospitality industry, which employs a large share of women and minorities. The pandemic has erased years of economic progress for women and Black and Hispanic workers, and economists say those losses are poised to continue until the virus is under control.

As vaccine distribution has significantly reached Americans where they need to be, to say the least, and the potential for the job market to rebound is showing some promise, women and communities of color will continue to suffer the aftermath of this virus, especially if there isn't any prompt action taken by the government to make sure that families can remain in their homes, have food on their table and have reassurance that there is an economic recovery plan in place for the country if there isn’t meaningful way to put Americans in jobs that aid our recovery from COVID-19 and combat the rising challenge of climate change.

Democrats have a massive challenge to hold on to the trifecta of government that they are clinging onto, and if Senators Manchin and Sinema continue to obstruct meaningful legislation to prevent the fall of democracy, it will not be easier to #BuildBackBetter.

July 2021 and the State of Affairs

Now that a few months have passed and the Biden administration has delivered 382,283,990 vaccines and the number of Americans who have gotten their vaccination stands at 328,152,304 people, America for the most part has benefitted from being able to get our of harms way. But for those who are in developing countries, the rampant vaccine apartheid and the uptick in the number of cases resulting from the delta variant, threatens the life and health of those who have not been vaccinated.

Culminating in this race against time, we see the adverse impact of the virus on people who live in global south and their lack of ability to get the same resources as the rest of is.

Last year, we dealt with same challenges of climate change and covid, but with the rapid heating of the planet and the absence of a plan from the Biden administration to adapt American infrastructure to these rising climate challenges, there seems to be a disconnect between saving those who are vulnerable to heat and to the virus, and the people who are able to insulate themselves from the rising climate and it’s potential impact on the world.

Women and gender non-conforming people have lost out on economic activity due to the pandemic and also stand to lose out if the Biden Administration remains on it’s track to prevent on any meaningful change in how we fight back against extreme heat.

Navigating the Nonprofit Industry

As someone who works in the nonprofit industry, my profession is filled with uncertainty about employment. I routinely shift between political campaigns, nonprofit organizations and legislative offices to make sure that I can make ends meet somehow. But I'm also facing the same problem as my friends in the recruiters continue to "check the boxes" and not hire any candidates of color in mostly white dominated nonprofits and legislative offices while asking them insultingly vague questions and giving candidates false hope about their prospects with a company. It’s even worse if a Non-profit organzation wants you to conceptualize a campaign they would hypothetically want you want to start with the organization, but then refuse to pay your for the work you do put into it. Adding insult to injury, candidates have also told me that they sometimes found out the non-profit went ahead and used those same plans but did not hire them.

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

This forces candidates of color into many unsettling situation which translates onto their resumes as having a lot of short term experiences which make them unattractive to future employers. The nonprofit model as it exists continues to make it much more difficult to combat oppressive policies that exist in government but also prevents the upper mobility of a lot of otherwise excellent candidates. While wanting to make an impact and progress towards creating a more just world, placing these barriers in front of people of color only goes to show how much the non-profit world seeks to undermine the very people they claim to be in the fight for.

Candidates have raised these issues to be of particular concern:

  1. Candidates can tell the interest level of an interviewer by the complexity of the questions asked. Asking vague questions, not being clear of what was a particular draw for the interviewer to seek you out for an interview and having a unstructured interview are all red flags of a recruiter just doing their routine “we tried to hire diverse candidates but couldn’t find any”
  2. Either not posting salary expectations, asking the candidate for how much they want to be paid or being evasive about the salary budgeted for the role. People have noted that they often apply for roles that aren’t paying the market rate for that typical position. They also note that when they when they do ask about why salary is accounted for at that particular rate, interviewers use that as a strike against the candidate and a basis for why they won’t be hiring them.
  3. Being ‘under-qualified’ or ‘over-qualified’ and no real explanation of what that really means for that particular organization/role. Many candidates often don’t get an interview with this excuse. Companies and legislative offices often times send these rejection letters with no clear explanation of what a candidate should posses in order to be a good fit for the role they are seeking. Requesting someone have x amount of experience y role in order to get a role z hierarchy of the ladder is crucial for candidates to be able to get that experience, save themselves time and effort and be able to restructure their goals in a way that helps them on a path to a career they can thrive in. It also doesn’t help that transition between industries is harder to do when it comes to the social justice world due to the lack of paid internship opportunities that can empower people.
  4. Recruiters who perform ‘diversity checks’. It’s often a big issue raised by the lack of racial equity in the corporate and organizing world, that recruiters reach out when they want to do a ‘diversity check’ which means the recruiters who want to have it on the record that they interview diverse candidates and therefore, they feel vindicated of not hiring them. In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests, a lot of companies made a commitment to enhance their Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DE&I) efforts. But that hasn’t necessarily translated into candidates from diverse backgrounds being in senior roles or even hired to begin with.

For the industry I work in, we think about how we can make the world a better place. But how do you do that when non-profits routinely use the same oppressive systems to prevent people of color from being in spaces they need to be in and to take up space in?




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Navjot Pal Kaur

Navjot Pal Kaur

Kaur Republic has now transitioned to Substack. Please follow us there to become a monthly or yearly subscriber:

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