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Headstart’s new human resources report, Diversity & The Dream

The prevalence, and severity, of US workplace discrimination demands attention. In our new human resources report, we explore just how bad issues of exclusion have become in American hiring. Buckle up, it’s not an easy read…

Diversity and the Dream — a story of increasing exclusivity

The topic of Diversity and Inclusion is nothing new in the modern workplace. But having appointed D&I Officers, trained our leaders, and opened up the dialogue around discrimination, have we done enough?

In short: no

Recruitment practices in the USA still greatly favor certain people, physical attributes, and colors of skin. That much is abundantly clear from Headstart’s recent research.

Discrimination stunts societal and economical growth

Prejudice and discrimination in recruitment results in a workforce that fails to represent the American public — especially in more senior positions. With vast numbers of US citizens held at arm’s length from the corporate world, how can our country’s economy grow? 

Does this discrimination spell the end of the once widely idolized American Dream? Interestingly, it’s not quite as clear-cut as that…

“90% of American job seekers still aspire to the American Dream — though many may never achieve it.”

The American Dream is still a very real and evocative notion for modern-day Americans. And almost all of our 400-person sample agree it’s something that they’re aiming towards.

So what stops these people from reaching their goals? Discrimination. More specifically, the unconscious (and conscious!) bias in the hiring process.

Americans are held back by their gender, race, and sexuality

The quantitative findings from our human resources report paint a staggering picture of professional inequality:

  • Non-straight and non-cis-gender job seekers are 158% more likely to feel the American Dream is out of reach.
  • 66% of Black American job seekers felt they had been frequently discriminated against when applying for new roles.
  • And that figure rises to 83% for individuals who identify as gender-diverse.

Qualitatively, the research provides many insightful — and worrying — tales of real-life recruitment experiences, too:

  • “The company found out that I was gay and that was a problem for them.”
  • “I was told that they wanted to hire a man for the principal position.”

Somehow a potential employer found out about my sexual orientation and they immediately disqualified me for the position.

  • “I am a bisexual woman. I never disclosed this to my job or to potential employers. Somehow a potential employer found out about my sexual orientation and they immediately disqualified me for the position. I felt horrible and embarrassed and degraded.”
  • “I feel I was discriminated against because of my name which is often perceived as being a “black” name, and also sometimes as “latina”.”
  • “[The] manager saw my promise ring during the interview and asked if I was engaged because he wanted to know if I’d need maternity leave or something soon.”

We could go on. The way these Americans describe their job-seeking journey defies belief — unless we, as hiring managers and business leaders, truly understand the unconscious biases affecting our decisions.

50% of hiring managers believe that bias and discrimination are an issue in their organization — so what will we do about it?

As we move into 2021, there’s no doubt that exclusivity plays a role in how we build our organizational teams. But being aware of the prejudices in our recruiting approach — and the devastating statistics that come with it — just step one. Next, we need to take action.


Our ‘Diversity and the Dream’ research found that half of the human resources teams report a lack of inclusivity in their hiring strategy. And yet there’s little affirmative action taking place. 42% of the hiring managers in our sample are yet to complete unconscious bias or discrimination training.

What will it take to push them into gear?

Discrimination fails business and society. The sooner we acknowledge that, the better

At Headstart, we believe that admitting to failure must precede any meaningful change surrounding Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. As our report shows, American businesses are failing American citizens. And so, in many ways, they are failing their customers, too. 

As HR professionals, hiring managers, and leaders, we’re failing our organizations. We do so by recruiting homogeneously and overlooking the indisputable commercial value of diversity in teams. Still unsure how valuable diversity really is? Unpack the true power of team diversity in a dedicated blog post here

There’s so much to gain from ending discrimination. So how will we put these failures behind us, and all work towards a more inclusive and representational American workforce?

Download your free copy of our human resources report, ‘Diversity and the Dream’ — it’s a good place to start

While our ebook doesn’t hold all the answers for your organization, it’s a stark reminder of how bad we’ve all left things become. 

Only when we all help push the dial and cut discrimination out of the American hiring process, will we achieve real positive change.

Headstart is on a mission to transform the way organisations hire! We are the world's first diversity driven Applicant Matching and Management System. We use Machine Learning and Data Science to transform the recruitment process, enabling clients to find the right high potential employees regardless of gender, ethnic status, sexual orientation or age.

With major brands like Accenture publicly supporting our mission, Headstart is already improving the recruitment experience for candidates around the world.

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