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An evidence-based selection process for equitable hiring in West Michigan

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Written by Reniya Dinkins, Gabriel Morrison, Sifan Liu for Brookings.


The COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide protests for racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis will prompt major changes in U.S. workplaces during recovery. For starters, many employers who had to furlough or lay off employees during social distancing orders may slowly begin hiring again to rebuild their workforce. Employers will also look to diversify their workforces, particularly by race, to better reflect the world we live in and take advantage of the vast benefits it can bring. Employers seeking to hire will be met by a historically large population of unemployed workers, opening the opportunity to rethink hiring practices and establish more productive and equitable workplaces moving forward. With the COVID-19 economic crisis hurting business outcomes and exacerbating racial disparities, it is critical to incorporate interventions that improve talent development in today’s economic development strategies in order to see the necessary growth and upgraded capabilities across various industries.

One model that offers advanced talent development services is HireReach. In 2018, Talent 2025, a group of 100 CEOs from the West Michigan region, and West Michigan Works!, a local workforce agency, collaborated to launch HireReach, a three-year initiative that recruits, trains, and advises employers to hire entry-level and middle-skill talent using an evidence-based selection process. Their model increases the accuracy of candidate selection, which in turn strengthens the quality of the employer’s workforce and reduces turnover. It also mitigates biases in the hiring process by using a data-driven approach to assess candidates fairly and objectively. HireReach supports participating employers with a monthly shared learning event called the Community of Practice as well as with monthly consulting sessions to support individual employers in adopting the evidence-based selection process.

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