What Beyoncé’s Homecoming Can Teach Your Organization About Recruiting Black Talent
Yes, she did it again.
Beyoncé created a beautiful masterpiece that had black people on the edge of our seats, enraptured by her ability to see us (like really see us) and to represent us in all of our authenticity. Unapologetically. A few weeks ago now, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter released her Netflix documentary, Homecoming. This documentary brings us into the grueling, yet celebratory journey of preparing for last year’s Beychella performance, where even in 2018, she became the first black woman to headline the major music festival, Coachella. While there are countless moments that can be taken from this production, I think one of them is what she taught us about the amazing talents of black people at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and beyond. She not only pays homage to the HBCU culture, she highlights the beauty and depth of black creative talent and reminds folks of the cultural assets of black people.
Watching Homecoming made me think about the impact this talent could have not only in creative fields, but also throughout the public, private and nonprofits sectors, if only leaders were intentional about recruiting such talent to their organization. I also reflected on how often organizations struggling with hiring diverse candidates fall back on merely posting a job opening and hoping that diverse candidates will apply. The reality is that to recruit this talent, you have to use diverse recruitment methods, including going to diverse universities. In Homecoming, Beyoncé talks about how she intentionally frequented historically black campuses to sift out top talent for her production, and while I can’t imagine anyone rejecting her when asked to join her team, she shows us that you have to actively go after what you want by way of getting great people.
I went to a predominantly white institution but have many friends that went to HBCU’s and have witnessed the power of the networks at these institutions. The each one, reach one mentality is prevalent, so anytime someone lands a gig and an opening becomes available, they are reaching out to their networks to find other black talent that might be interested or on the hunt for a job – “Sis, have you seen that so and so is hiring?” is a text that I have sent to friends on several occasions.
The cultural assets that young black talent brings to the workplace are invaluable. Creativity, knowledge, traditions, aesthetics, diverse viewpoints are just a few of these assets. Beyonce’s Homecoming is a reminder for those who need it that this talent limitless. It just takes thought, appreciation, and intentionality to acquire it.