Working Against Racism Within Career Advising and Employer Recruitment

Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD) has a responsibility to acknowledge and recognize the systematic processes that disadvantage our Black and African American students in the MIT student recruiting process.  #ShutDownAcademia on June 10th was the perfect time to say to MIT Black and African American students we see you, we hear you, we recognize your experience in the recruiting process, and we are committed to erasing the inequities that exist. The CAPD team took the day to consider ways that our Black and African American students face racism as they pursue various career paths. Together, we brainstormed specific programs, processes, and resources that will help eliminate bias and racial discrimination in the sphere of career exploration and on-campus recruiting at MIT.   

When asked about the importance of the day and CAPD’s commitment to action, Executive Director Deborah Liverman shared:

Given MIT’s reputation, the assumption is that our students are highly sought after and therefore have their choice of jobs, internships, and admission to graduate and professional programs. However, that is not true for our Black and African American students, who must jump additional hurdles in the pursuit of their career goals.

A recent blog post from Joy Ekuta ‘13, a former CAPD student worker, describes the racism she experienced as she navigated life, MIT and corporate America. Deborah worked closely with Joy during her time at MIT and stated, “To all the “Joys” out there and to all of our Black and African American students, CAPD wants you to know that we are committed to erasing the inequities that exist.”

CAPD staff are impassioned to go beyond calling out racism and will use their voice and influence to affect change in the following ways:

Review the CAPD employer guidelines for equitable hiring practices at MIT and collaborate with campus partners to ensure consistency in how we hold employers accountable.

  • Expand how we educate employers on our recruiting expectations as they relate to diversity and equity by creating new resources such as a short recruiting expectations video, website content on the sources of implicit bias in the hiring process, the biases of both human and automated resume screeners, and more.
  • Ask employers seeking to recruit at MIT about their diversity and inclusion recruiting practices to ensure a fit with MIT’s on diversity and inclusion.
  • Analyze the MIT Graduating Student Survey data with particular interest in process and outcomes specifically for Black and African American students and what can be learned from the analysis to improve our services and programs and address industry or employer specific concerns present.

Enable students, faculty and staff to easily report, anonymously if desired, any issues experienced in their interactions with employers. The following two faculty/staff tools are being piloted this summer, and we are exploring tools to provide an accessible reporting system for students.

  • Handshake, MIT’s primary recruiting platform for internships and jobs, is now available to academic departments and programs that work with employers to enter notes and share information on employers, including incidents of bias. CAPD will use this information to address concerns with employers and hold employers accountable.
  • A Slack employer-Info channel will be used to create ongoing, open communications among the MIT staff and faculty who work with employers on a day-to-day basis. The use of Slack is being piloted to reduce barriers for sharing information in a timely manner.

Make employer diversity metrics and initiatives visible to students who can use this information to target employers who foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.

  • Partner with the Office of Minority Education (OME) and Office Graduate Education (OGE) to promote career exploration opportunities for Black and African American students at the undergraduate and graduate level. 
  • Develop career programming that promote understanding about racial disparities and offer strategies to confront and eliminate bias in the recruiting process.
  • Update and expand the existing CAPD Diversity Resources webpage. This includes books, articles, videos, podcasts, and other media related to careers in industry and academia.
  • Launch an OGE/CAPD professional development program for graduate students of color in Fall 2020.
  • Collaborate with the student Fall Career Fair Directors on ways to promote equity at the fair.

While the focus of the team during #ShutDownAcademia was on the work of CAPD, it was also an opportunity for staff to continue to reflect and commit to making impactful change.

I am glad the leadership at CAPD supported the staff’s efforts to utilize the #shutdownacademia initiative to free up often limited time in order for us to focus the day on working to both educate ourselves on the issues of anti-racism and how to oppose systemic racism, as well as to develop resources and planned actions to help us “walk the talk” and move our operations and recruiting at MIT towards working against racism. —David Kovacs | Assistant Director – Career Exploration Events & Fairs

…there is much work to be done to continue supporting students of color, and I hope we have more opportunities to do so. I also appreciated taking the time to reflect on my own work and determine how I can be doing more. — Tavi Sookhoo | Career Development Specialist

As one of the primary bridges between student career aspirations and career development opportunities at MIT, CAPD is committed to ensuring Black and African American students are able to pursue their interests in industry and academia free of bias and discrimination. Our efforts during #ShutDownAcademia are part of our sustained commitment to work against racism within career advising and employer recruitment. #BlackLivesMatter. Please reach out to us - your feedback and ideas are welcome.