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Ep 459: Underrepresented Communities of Talent


Effectively attracting, selecting and hiring people from underrepresented and marginalised groups is something that many employers aspire to. Unfortunately, only very few have the right strategies and resources in place to be set up for success. Having the right partners to work with is critical if companies are to truly understand the needs of the communities they want to work with.

My guest this week is Roy Baladi, Founder of Jobs for Humanity. Jobs for Humanity works to connect historically underrepresented talent to welcoming employers via training and technology, and Roy has some extremely valuable insights to share.

In the interview, we discuss:

• What is Jobs For Humanity?

• Advantages of hiring diverse talent

• Diversifying the TA funnel

• Designing a fair hiring process

• Challenging personal bias

• Onboarding, inclusivity and safe spaces

• Making simple accommodations

• Recruiting refugees

• Brain diversity

• Why DE&I is still at the early adopter stage with employers

• Intention and action

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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Support for this podcast is provided by SHL, from talent acquisition to talent management. SHL solutions provide your organization with the power and scale to build your business with the skilled, motivated, and energized workforce you need. SHL takes the guesswork out of growing a talented team by helping you match the right people to the right moments with simplicity and speed. They equip recruiters and leaders with people insights at an organization, team, and individual level, accelerating growth, decision-making, talent mobility, and inspiring an inclusive culture to build a future where businesses thrive because their people thrive.

SHL Solutions (52s):
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Matt Alder (1m 10s):
Hi there, this is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 459 of The Recruiting Future Podcast. Effectively Attracting, selecting, and hiring people from underrepresented and marginalized groups is something that many employers aspire to. Unfortunately, only very few have the right strategies and resources in place to be set up for success. Having the right partners to work with is critical if companies are to truly understand the needs of the communities they want to work with. My guest this week is Roy Baladi, founder of Jobs for Humanity.

Matt Alder (1m 53s):
Jobs for Humanity works to connect historically underrepresented talent to welcoming employers via training and technology, and Roy has some extremely valuable insights to share. Hi, Roy, and welcome to the podcast.

Roy Baladi (2m 4s):
Hi. Hi, Matt. Thanks for having me.

Matt Alder (2m 8s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?

Roy Baladi (2m 13s):
I’m Roy, the founder of Jobs for Humanity, and basically, my life’s been dedicated for the last couple of years for finding jobs for people from underrepresented communities that covers anyone who, as a Dutch say, is distant from the labor market with specific focus on refugees, the formerly incarcerated, the blind, the neurodivergent, single parents, the elderly, and ethnic minorities.

Matt Alder (2m 41s):
Funtastic stuff. And just tell us a little bit more about how your organization works and what you actually do and what you actually offer.

Roy Baladi (2m 49s):
We reach out to job seekers from these communities by partnering with local organizations around the world. Also, by finding them on social media. Keep in mind that I grew up in Lebanon where a third of the population are refugees. I am new divergent myself and I volunteered in prisons for five years and as well as with Lighthouse for the Blinds. So these are communities that I’m really close to. So I started this movement by reaching out to various organizations and made it volunteer-led where more than two-thirds of our teammates come from these communities. As job seekers join in, we offer them a, jobs from companies that have vowed to interview the top candidates and are specifically looking to hire them, hire underrepresented talent.

Roy Baladi (3m 37s):
And we offer them coaching throughout whether it’s resume improvements and things like that as well as an online community with events every couple of days. For employers, we offer them a platform where they can reach out to now close to a hundred thousand job seekers from underrepresented communities, literally in every geography with all types of skill sets for local or remote work. And we offer them training as well so that they can hire them inclusively, and beyond that, once they do reach their companies, to be able to create a safe space for them.

Matt Alder (4m 15s):
Fantastic stuff. Now in the conversation, we thought it would be good to sort of focus on the why, the how, and, the what of working with communities of talent like this. To start with the why, talk us through the advantages of hiring diverse talent. I know that it’s something that, you know, people, hopefully, lots of people will already be familiar with and experiencing, but I think it’s always good to reiterate.

Roy Baladi (4m 44s):
Companies wanna hire the best talent. Let’s not make a mistake there. They wanna hire the smartest people and then also they wanna expand and they’re realizing right now that they have been very homogenous in the circles, in their social circles, in their employment circles and therefore, they wanna become a bit more diverse. Hiring underrepresented talent does not mean that you’re gonna compromise on anything. You’re actually going to hire more qualified people. Case in point, Matt, if you think of the world’s biggest or anyone listening, the people have shaped planet earth as it is today and you think about who they were. Maybe Einstein comes as the smartest person on earth.

Roy Baladi (5m 23s):
Einstein was a refugee. Isaac Newton, who’s invented the three laws of gravity and revolutionized physics. He was neurodivergent and you don’t have to go very far back. You can think about, in today’s terms, Barack Obama, is an ethnic minority. He was raised by a single mom. You can think of Sarah Richard Branson, she’s neurodivergent. He’s dyslexic. Elon Musk says he’s got Asperger’s. Sergey Brin, who’s invented Google. He’s a refugee. There are geniuses that come out of these communities because they’ve gone through real hardships and they’ve developed a certain focus to get through the circumstances that they had to go in order to reach where they were.

Roy Baladi (6m 6s):
So if you’re looking for grit, you’ve got it in spades there. If you’re looking for loyalty, you’ve got it there. If you’re looking for empathy, even more., If you’re looking for teamwork, absolutely. So these are the building blocks of a good employee of who you wanna have. And that’s what you’re gonna get when you hire someone from an underrepresented community, invariably.

Matt Alder (6m 25s):
Talk us through how people can do this. Now, obviously, you know, there there are things that are different for every type of community, but it would be good to get your benefits of your experience in terms of how to hire, I don’t know, say people from one of the sort of specific communities that you’re talking about.

Roy Baladi (6m 46s):
Well, the first thing you need to do is you need to find them, then you need to interview them in a fair way. And then you need to be able to hire them and create a safe space once you do hire them. It’s the same, you know, that talent acquisition funnel. How can you diversify your talent acquisition funnel? First of all, by partnering with organizations like Jobs for Humanity and several others that allow you to widen and tap into a talent pool that’s super diverse. There are local organizations, wherever you are, wherever you’re listening. You can reach out to them just like you’ve got global organizations like we are. You can reach out to us and then you’re gonna be able to access that talent.

Roy Baladi (7m 29s):
The second thing you wanna do is you wanna be able to interview them. When we’re talking about a refugee, you do have certain biases. You might think that, oh, this person is lesser than this person because they don’t speak the language. They may not present themselves. They may not be smart like someone who’s local. Their certifications may be different. You look at their resume, you don’t recognize the university. It looks different. There’s a gap in their resume. Why? Because they had to disrupt their lives because of war, because of a natural disaster or something that, and they had to seek asylum for a certain amount of time, and with it had to take care of their entire families. So being able to understand those differences and saying, hey, I’m happy to get some training here is really important.

Roy Baladi (8m 10s):
That’s for refugees. You’ve got that for every single community. Understanding for the blind, what does a blind person use in order to get through? And what does a person with low vision use? So a person with low vision uses screen magnifiers. A person who’s blind uses screen readers. A person who’s neurodivergent, you wanna be able to understand that social norms don’t matter. It doesn’t matter this person looks you in the eye if they can code the heck out of that thing, or they can build that incredible model, or they can build this superb supply chain. It doesn’t matter. And so that’s the selection piece.

Roy Baladi (8m 50s):
Just getting some training, we do offer that. And so do many other organizations. The more jobs– Jobs for Humanity is a bit of an umbrella organization. We work with so many groups. In a couple of days, we’re gonna be working with Tiffany, who basically helps companies create space for the neurodivergent. There’s in London. There’s many who can offer training. And it doesn’t take much, I swear. Like If you think of refugees, all it takes is to be mindful of the gaps and some of the gaps that you do have, not they have, and give them some English, offer them some English language training. It’s very small. For the neurodivergent, the word does sound daunting.

Roy Baladi (9m 31s):
Neurodivergent is brain divergent. That’s basically diversity in the brain. Some of the reasonable accommodations are as simple as noise-canceling headphones and don’t ask people to socialize and to necessarily touch and pat on the back when they don’t necessarily want it and give them some breaks. That’s it. In the interview process, you can ask them and be proactive about it. Finally, If you wanna hire, then you wanna be able to onboard them well. That’s part of that same training, create a safe space. Also, realize that the talent is global. So If you wanna be able to hire globally, there are organizations that allow you to do that. If you wanna relocate talent, they can do that. And if you are worried about the legal status, for example, for a refugee, there are a bunch of organizations like Talent Beyond Boundaries, like Localyze that can help you relocate the person compliantly with the work permit and everything.

Roy Baladi (10m 25s):
All of this has been demystified. That’s how you do it.

Matt Alder (10m 32s):
And as opposed diving a bit deeper into that, in terms of, you know, the specific advice that you’d offer talent acquisition professionals and people working in HR and organizations, in terms of providing inclusive spaces and onboarding people properly, what are the things that people should really be bearing in mind?

Roy Baladi (10m 55s):
I’m gonna focus on two because, first of all, focus on refugees. And then I’ll talk a bit about neurodivergent that exists for every community, and actually on Jobs for Humanity, you can find that training for free, just on the site. For refugees, honestly, it is as simple as doing your best to not treat them any different than anybody else. That’s really important. I’ve spoken to several refugees who are, and all they want is they want a second shot at life. That’s all they’re asking for. And this gives them a chance to actually join a new organization, which they feel very proud of and they don’t wanna stick out like a sore thumb.

Roy Baladi (11m 35s):
And I quoted one refugee who landed a gig at a company that didn’t onboard him well, and then a second one that did. And here’s what he said, “When I joined my first company in the new country, I was uncomfortable because colleagues were treating me differently. Not necessarily just by what was said, but even by how things were said. I wanted more than anything to be treated like everybody else. Since then I’ve changed jobs. And in my current one, I’m treating I’m treated exactly like everyone else. I do not have any additional benefits nor do I have to be reminded that every day that I am different.” So it’s important to be able to just tell them, “Hey, welcome. You’re one of us. Let me know, feel free to let me know if there’s anything that you need.”

Roy Baladi (12m 18s):
Realize that for refugees, in particular, their English may not be as good as someone who’s local. So If you can offer them and proactively offer English training, that would be wonderful. The chances are, they’ve already gone through a bunch of things like cultural training, cultural immersions, and things like that. So no need to worry about that there and do ask them if they need any additional accommodations. When you’re trying to onboard someone who’s neurodivergent, like I said, neurodiversity is brain diversity and so that is where basically every person is very different. So the best thing that you could do is to ask and create a safe space for them, basically gain their trust and tell them, “Hey, welcome to our organization.

Roy Baladi (12m 59s):
Super happy that you’re joining us and we wanna make sure just like we do for everybody that you are as successful as you can be. And you feel as, as much at home as possible. What could be helpful for us to offer you for you to feel welcome?” Maybe they’ll ask you for noise, canceling headphones. Maybe they’ll ask you for a day or two where they can work from home. Maybe they’ll ask you for little bit of space in between meetings. Maybe they’ll go to the office and realize that there are flickering lights and if someone is epilepsy that sucks, or they’re averse to light, then having lights that are incandescent will just be helpful for everybody else, honestly.

Roy Baladi (13m 39s):
And it gives a fewer migraines to all the neurotypical people at the company. So really making them feel welcome and then asking and creating space, and then realizing that these changes are not very– Tthey’re not drastic. You’re not looking to make any big physical changes in your space. That’s what I would say for both of them. And yeah, there’s also a really cool resource for the neurodiversion called Jan, J-A-N. You also find it on the website that we’ve, like on, where you’ve got additional accommodations that you could, you know, learn about such as also reducing socializing and accepting of people who may have a tick or may need a break from time to time or may want to work in the dark.

Roy Baladi (14m 29s):
They’re not different. They’re not freaks. They are actually getting the job done in a very focused way. And actually socializing is a big distraction. Some people just really like to focus on one specific thing and not be distracted like me. When I work, I really just close the door and then just can produce what two people can produce in a day, but people know not to just come and knock and come and chit-chat. And when I get out, I’ll say, “All right, I’m available to talk now.”

Matt Alder (14m 57s):
So as a final question for you, literally, just before we started recording, I saw someone kind of sent me the results of sort of yet another survey that says diversity inclusion is the number one priority for, you know, HR professionals in the next 12 months. This is something that there has been a lot of conversation about in the last two years. Are employers getting better at this, more open in terms of their thinking, shifting their mindset? Are things genuinely changing or are organizations still just talking about it and not actually doing anything?

Roy Baladi (15m 37s):
Excellent question. If you think of the marketing curve, you know, you got the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards, and then that’s kind of the life cycle we’re gonna get everybody. We are still in the early adopter phase. A lot of organizations want to and have realized that they need to make changes there. If they wanna go public, two of their board members have to become from underrepresented community. One has to be a woman. The other one has to be from a minority. And that starts to trickle down. Companies aren’t knowing what targets to set and it really starts with a target. This is how many bodies I’d like to have in this organization so that when I ask for referrals, the referrals can be much more diverse than coming from a certain circle.

Roy Baladi (16m 25s):
So companies have the intention, but they’re not knowing how and where to start. This is why I’ve, that’s not why I’ve started Jobs for Humanity. I started Jobs for Humanity because I come from these communities and because I got fed up, honestly, of living a bit like an automaton, and then just building tech solutions for organizations and growing them. I really wanna make a serious difference. And every time someone gets a job, it’s a life changed. And so I can do this till that I die and grow this for Jobs for Humanity for it to be bigger than me when I pass away and passed on to other people, and it become something like the United Nations because you do need something major to make that change.

Roy Baladi (17m 6s):
Companies need a simple path of understanding. Here’s my framework: attract, select and hire. How do I attract? Where do I go to attract? Select, how do I create a safe space for them? Hire, how do I hire and onboard and create a safe space one day once they are in? And that’s basically the job that of a chief diversity officer or head of talent acquisition, to be able to go ahead and say, all right, this is my answer for attract, that’s my answer for select, and that’s my answer for hire.

Matt Alder (17m 35s):
And lastly, tell us again how to find you and how to find Jobs for Humanity.

Roy Baladi (17m 41s):
If you email me at, find me on LinkedIn, Roy Beladi, or just Google, Jobs for Humanity will be the first result. It’s You’ll find us there. We’ll be able to connect. We’ll be able to just, and most of the resources are fully available and free and can easily be shared. So it’s easy.

Matt Alder (18m 2s):
Roy, Thank you very much for talking to me.

Roy Baladi (18m 4s):
Matt, thank you so much for the space, and thank you so much for everything that you’ve been doing for the talent acquisition industry over the last decades.

Matt Alder (18m 15s):
Thank you. My thanks to Roy. You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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