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Search Firms Differ In Benefits To Women Of Color

Employee recruitment firms differ in their efficacy for women of color, and a handful stand above the others, according to Top 10 Search Firms for Women of Color, a report from Westchester, N.Y.-based Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC), a professional development and networking organization.

The report combines data collected from search firms on a number of criteria, including the gender and racial makeup of their ownership and placement staff; placements made for women of color; outreach to women of color; transparency of job listings, including salary ranges; and, follow-up after placement. Separately, WOC asked its members about firms that focused on individual qualifications, the help they received in successful placements and follow-up after placement.

After ranking and scoring data collected from 26 firms, WOC identified the following, listed in order of their scores, as the 10 best firms for women of color:

  • Pearl Street Collective, Andover, Mass.
  • Diversified Search Group, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Campbell & Company, Chicago, Ill.
  • Isaacson Miller, Boston, Mass.
  • Envision Consulting, Pasadena, Calif.
  • ThinkingAhead Executive Search, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Sensa Recruiting, New York City
  • Lindauer Global, Boston, Mass.
  • Aspen Leadership Group, Aspen, Colo.
  • Howe-Lewis International, New York City

The top 10 firms shared several key characteristics in terms of outreach to the women of color community as well as the steps they took to ensure applicants were comfortable. Nearly all went out of their way to advertise in areas likely to be frequented by women of color. They used gender-neutral language in their job posting. They did not, even when permitted, ask applicants for salary history. They gave weight to applicants’ experience, in addition to their formal education. And most took a personal approach to networking, using a combination of people found through interpersonal interactions or direct contact via online networks such as LinkedIn.

Separately, individual members of WOC were asked to identify firms they felt had been especially helpful. Those firms, ranked in order, include: Glymph Consulting, Denver; Isaacson Miller, Boston; Offor, New Orleans; On-Ramps, New York City; DRG Talent Advisory Group; and, Envision Consulting, Pasadena, Calif.

The seeming lack of overlap between the two lists — only Envision Consulting and Isaacson Miller repeat between them — is likely more a function of the boutique nature of some of the agencies that serve these populations. “Most of them are smaller firms, which may not have had the bandwidth to [submit the necessary information to] be part of the larger lists, WOC Founder Yolanda F. Johnson told The NonProfit Times. Furthermore, some of the smaller firms might have been inadvertently penalized for not offering the full range of services WOC was evaluating at all, as opposed to performing those services badly.

In both instances, firms were evaluated based on whether they treated applicants with respect, took applicants’ goals into consideration and conveyed the impression they were looking to make a good match between applicant and organization, as opposed to filling a diversity, equity and inclusion quota.

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