2022 has been a historic year for tech layoffs—unlike anything we’ve seen since 2008. Meta let go of more than 11,000 employees. Twitter: 3,700. Stripe: 1,000. Salesforce: 1,000. Better.com: 3,000. The list goes on, as Coinbase, Microsoft, and Shopify each conducted their own brutal four-figure layoffs this year.
However, there is a silver lining. Layoffs ultimately provide opportunity for a shift in the labor market. As some companies let people go, others will inevitably be looking to hire at least some percentage of this high-caliber talent. Some people may end up in industries outside of technology, where they can leverage their unique experience and knowledge to accelerate their growth and innovation in other fields. Others may explore new roles in different tech sectors or geographies.
As all of those individuals evaluate new opportunities, business leaders have an opportunity to double down on DEI initiatives, both in terms of how they conduct layoffs and how they hire new talent.
Twilio has already made a pledge to carry out layoffs with an “anti-racist/anti-oppression lens,” which is a meaningful first step in mitigating the impact of a shifting labor economy on marginalized communities. Companies should monitor the number of underrepresented employees they’re laying off in proportion to well-represented employees.
After that, they need to invest in internal and external programs that help new company alumni get their next role. Put existing recruiting talent to work by having them read over résumés and actively work on placing recent employees at companies that are hiring. Provide exiting employees with equitable resources aimed at catapulting them towards their next roles, such as invitations to talent pools that are currently hiring.
On the other side of the coin, the companies that are hiring this new influx of talent must capitalize on the ripe opportunity they have to enrich company culture with high-quality underrepresented candidates with big tech experience. At Meta, Black and Hispanic employees made up 11.6 percent of the workforce in 2022 according to Meta’s 2022 Diversity Report. This would mean in the past month, approximately 1,276 of these individuals are now seeking new positions. When you do the math across the larger landscape, the numbers enter the tens of thousands.
But it will take some effort to ensure that your company is in the best position to recruit that talent. A larger pool of talented candidates is looking for jobs right now than has existed in over a decade. So, consider taking a little longer to fill a role if it enables you to widen the talent pool and consider a broader range of candidates. Growing companies can also take measures to ensure their talent acquisition teams are reaching new candidate pools, especially in a moment of quality talent influx.
If it hasn’t already been done, conduct interview training so employees are aware of their unconscious biases and don’t filter out strong candidates that don’t fit the existing mold. Write job postings that use language that will appeal to a diverse range of candidates. Leverage new technologies and job sites that allow you to access the new influx of underrepresented talent. Work with coaches and consultants to ensure the right practices and procedures have been put in place and are implemented in a way that sets the business up for success.
They say that “wealth is made in bear markets,” and the same can be said for building incredible teams. Now is the optimal time to shake up your hiring practices and build a recruiting strategy that will drive sustainable, impactful progress toward your DEI goals in 2023.
And when we do come out of this economic downturn, you—and other businesses that follow these practices—will have the upper hand. You will be the companies, the teams, the cultures that everyone wants to be a part of.
Albrey Brown currently serves as VP of strategy at Joonko. Prior to this role, he led diversity and inclusion at three major tech companies including Pivotal Software, DocuSign, and Airtable. At each company, he built important programs from the ground up. Prior to that, he founded and sold Telegraph Academy, which focused on teaching underserved groups how to code.
Brown prides himself on being a data-driven people leader. Helping underrepresented people find fulfilling jobs is his passion, and he’s grateful to be in a position to solve this problem at scale. His work has been highlighted in Fast Company, Protocol, and TechCrunch.