Jasmine Whaley wants to bring greater transparency to the job application and hiring process for Black professionals.
The York, Pennsylvania-based entrepreneur is launching a platform where Black employees and allies can learn more about their prospective employers and look for job openings at Black-owned and Black-led companies.
Black Owned and Hiring’s jobs board focuses on inclusive work environments from companies that have a reputation for treating Black employees fairly, as well as companies that want to get to that point. Past and current employees can share reviews on how Black employees have fared at those companies.
Whaley launched Black Owned and Hiring after a series of professional experiences in which she said her work was undermined because of her identity and a lack of agency in the workplace. The buildup of microaggressions — like coworkers asking to touch her hair after she got it braided — and other negative experiences came to a head this past summer: When Black man George Floyd was killed by police in May, Whaley grew concerned by the collective sense of apathy she saw at her organization.
“I was tired of being one of the only Black employees,” she told Technical.ly. “And then that feeling was a lot harder with when George Floyd was murdered because no one else seemed to care at my organization. Black people as a community [were] struggling to go through day-to-day activities, but when you are working at an employer that doesn’t care about the same things that you value, it’s hard.”
Whaley noticed that many Black professionals were leaving their jobs because of a poor response or lack of response altogether to racial inequality. Seeing the need for Black professionals to have a platform where they could find workplaces that cared about their lived experience, and that could signal when organizations had poor work cultures, led her to start Black Owned and Hiring.
Compared to some larger job review sites, Whaley said negative reviews would not be filtered out on Black Owned and Hiring and that the site could serve as a safe space for employees to share their real experiences.
Another goal of the new site is to hold companies accountable. In the months during and following summer 2020’s social unrest, companies have made billions in commitments to racial justice. While that figure appears impactful, Whaley is skeptical of its promise.
“Throwing money at these issues is very easy for these companies to do,” she said. “But doing the real work for systemic change in their organizations is the hard part.”
With its launch, Whaley said Black Owned and Hiring’s review portion has been broken down to cover three parts. The first documents Black employees’ sense of belonging. It covers things like dress codes for Black hairstyles, general growth opportunities for Black employees, and pay transparency and overall workplace culture. Each employer is evaluated on a scale from one to five. So far, employee reviews have been collected from the likes of Verizon, Asana and Geico.
The second part of the platform will highlight opportunities from Black-owned and Black-led companies, and the third part will focus on content and resources to better help Black job seekers in the search process. Whaley said that component is also significant because it gives companies better insight on how to support employees.
“Black people being paid fairly has a tickle-down effect on the community,” she said. “[It provides] better opportunities to have better neighborhoods and more money in neighborhoods.”
By providing career resources for Black professionals, Whaley aims to support pay equity for a community that is often ill-equipped to navigate the politics of corporate environments. Removing the stigma from subjects like pay equity can help all employees succeed, she said.
Whaley’s long-term goal for Black Owned and Hiring is to have as many companies as possible join the platform and aid in the fight for better experiences for Black people in the workplace. She also plans to create more tools to help companies with that, ranging from a custom applicant tracking system to an internal review tool.
“What people don’t understand is, [racism] is really everywhere,” she said. “That’s why I feel this year is so important because it’s everywhere we go. At some point, something has to give.”
Michael Butler is a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-
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