Our industry is racist

This won’t be new news to a lot of people, especially people of colour who’ve ever tried to get a job in our industry.

Trigger warning: This piece discusses issues of racism that may be triggering.

Yesterday I was halfway through writing this weeknote, toying with what to write about again, and I received a message on LinkedIn.

It was from someone I’ve been helping to get a job. The message was letting me know that they’d finally had an offer. It was such great news for a Monday and I passed on my congratulations as we chatted happily about their new role.

As we chatted they shared that they had been looking for a job on and off for a year. During that year they had applied for 107 jobs, and been invited to 9 interviews. These numbers really hit me.

They had applied for 107 jobs, and been invited to 9 interviews.

I first met this person a few weeks ago when they reached out to me for advice via one of my walk n talks. They were looking for advice on how to land a job, confused by why they were struggling so much and unsure how they could improve their chances.

They have experience working in the industry in their home country along with several good examples of their work.

They told me that after interviews, the ones they did get invited to, they received generic feedback about their lack of experience. This feedback was given even when applying for junior positions. When asking for more specifics they were sometimes simply ignored.

On occasion, they were invited to interviews then never given a time or date.

“While I’ve applied for many jobs and been interviewed only a few times, I’ve never thought of it as racism. What has affected me through this journey is that I doubt myself a lot for not being competent for any roles.”

There is so much more to this story, a story that I’m sure resonates with a lot of people out there, but it’s not my story to tell.

I’m sharing this short, factual version with permission from the person who’s experience this is because I want every white person working in this industry to remember these numbers next time you are sifting CVs.

This industry still has a long, long way to go. Are you redesigning your recruitment processes to reduce bias as much as possible? Are you practicing positive discrimination to ensure people from under represented communities are given the opportunities they deserve? Are you making time to provide meaningful feedback to candidates?

The list goes on.

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Emma Parnell

Freelance specialist in user research, service design and brand development. designforjoy.co.uk Previously @wearesnook, @nhsdigital, @wearewithyou.