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Study: Companies Don’t Spend Enough Time Recruiting at HBCUs

The strategies Fortune 400 companies and government agencies use when looking to recruit new employees from historically Black colleges and universities differ from those they use for predominantly White institutions.

Fortune 400 companies and government agencies used on campus bulletin boards, alumni recommendations, networking and career development officers more frequently at PWIs than at HBCUs, according to a recent study conducted by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and researchers from Alabama A&M University.

Researchers surveyed 280 recruiters from Fortune 400 companies and career development directors at 105 HBCUs and 182 PWIs.

The study indicated that a disproportionate number of graduates from PWIs were hired over those from HBCUs. In 2006, corporations and agencies included in the study hired 31 college graduates and only four were HBCU graduates.

The strongest explanation for the disparity, suggests Dwayne Ashley, president and CEO of the TMCF, is the number of on campus visits made by recruiters from Fortune 400 companies and government agencies.

“Recruiters were not visiting enough HBCU schools. For budgetary reasons, most companies only visit one to 10 schools overall. These schools tend to be the top 10 liberal arts colleges and universities in the country,” Ashley says.

The data indicated that 32 percent of Fortune 400 companies and government agencies did not visit any college campus last year, and only 20 percent made 11 to 20 campus visits.

“If these companies allocate more dollars to the budget and increase the number of campus visits from one to 10 to 11 to 20, it would allow recruiters to visit schools they wouldn’t ordinarily visit. There is a pool of untapped minority talent at smaller HBCUs,” Ashley says.

In terms of expectation, the study found no significant statistical difference between recruiters’ perception of student preparedness from either college type. However, the data did reveal that recruiters ranked non-HBCUs the highest in student preparedness followed by private HBCUs and finally public HBCUs.

“Academically, students from HBCUs are just as prepared as those from non-HBCUs and can compete with any student in the country. However, students from both college types lack the social preparation necessary to navigate their way through these large corporations and government agencies,” Ashley says.

To increase the number of minority hires, Ashley recommends Fortune 400 companies and government agencies use programs like INROADS or TMCF’s talent sourcing programs to zero in on minority talent.

“High-performing HBCU students from our college fund and full-time leadership institutes are loaded into a database. Companies use us and organizations like ours as a vehicle to access [the students at] all 47 of our institutions,” Ashley says.

–Michelle J. Nealy

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