Recently Emmanuel “Manny” Contomanolis, Director, Mignone Center for Career Success, Harvard University, and Nicky Garcea, Co-Founder and CEO, Cappfinity moderated The End of Affirmative Action in College Admissions: Implications for DEI Recruiting and Hiring, a webinar in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action. The session featured a panel of leading voices in business, law, and education including:
- Seldric Blocker, Executive Director – Early Careers, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- Tyrene Essell, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, Qualcomm
- Adrienne Alberts, Chief Diversity Officer, American Red Cross
- Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
- Angie Gabeau, President, Harvard College Black Students Association
Here is a summary of The End of Affirmative Action in College Admissions: Implications for DEI Recruiting and Hiring discussion:
Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School gave a quick overview of what the ruling meant for college admissions and DEI programs to start off the session. In summary, on June 29th, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected affirmative action in college admissions, declaring that the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina were unlawful. Many believe that this ruling while specific to admissions will have ripple effects and could impact the talent pipeline at highly selective and elite institutions.
What is the likely impact for students?
Angie Gabeau, President of Harvard’s Black Students Association shared concern for the current students and for the students who come after. According to Gabeau “where people go to school, and what type of education they get, shapes a lot of the opportunities they will have.” Gabeau suggested that there might be differences in students’ career options after college due to the ruling.
Traditionally, elite colleges and universities offer a wide range of attractive career-related benefits. Many elite colleges and universities provide access to “blue chip” employers that fuel their talent pipelines with their graduates.
What does this mean for employers?
According to Adriene Alberts, Chief Diversity Officer, American Red Cross, “we anticipated the changes…ultimately the biggest implications will be seen over time… Perhaps, there will be less diversity at colleges across the U.S.” While, the decision will directly affect higher education admissions, as this change in law was made on Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, it doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for non-federally funded organizations and employers (governed under Title 7 of the same Act).
What can be done?
Panellists were pragmatic in their reflections on implications. They felt that employers that remain committed to the mission of their organizations will adjust and move forward. In doing so, those employers will continue to serve communities and build on the work they have completed up to this point.
Tyrene Essell, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, Qualcomm suggested, “we understand that DEI remains at the heart of innovation… we need varied perspectives, backgrounds, and people to further innovation and technologies and our products”.
Employers that establish connections with a broader set of colleges and universities will be important in shaping the future. So, while the ruling is a substantive shift, existing approaches used by leading companies remain lawful. It was clear that the panellists felt that many employers would continue to build strategies, seek diverse talent, and support candidates.
Finally, Seldric Blocker, Executive Director – Early Careers, JPMorgan Chase & Co. cautioned against overreliance on technology such as applicant tracking and that perhaps recruiters would have to enter into spaces and ask questions to ensure their organizations expose opportunities to a wide pool of candidates.
In closing, Cappfinity’s point of view:
Traditional early career hiring criteria such as GPA, academic major, or where someone went to college is outdated and ineffective. Too often, employers significantly reduce their talent pools by leaning into traditional hiring criteria. In parallel, they fail to evaluate skills, potential, and motivation as they evaluate talent. Now more than ever, skill-based hiring processes make it possible to attract, assess, and hire strong talent.
Organizations shouldn’t rely solely on colleges to find strong high-quality talent. Employers can engage diverse candidates in forums beyond campus recruiting and leverage new skills-based hiring technology.
You can watch the recording of the full webinar here.