How Employers Can Engage in Anti-racism and Transform Community on College Campuses

In the August DDNRC program, Returning to the (Virtual) Campus: Activism, Anti-racism, and Transforming Community, a participant asked a question which could not be answered during the session due to time. That question was:

What advice would you give an employer/recruiter coming onto campus and being able to engage and contribute to this work on campuses?

DDNRC leadership wanted to provide an opportunity for further dialogue on this subject and invited Kevin Grubb, Executive Director of the Career Center and Assistant Vice Provost for Professional Development at Villanova University, to offer insights on our blog.

As I think about my response to this question, I find myself reflecting on the wisdom shared within the conversation on the webinar. And, in doing so, I am realizing that my advice can be summarized in a question back to this person and to all employers and recruiters who plan to recruit on campuses (likely virtually) this year: 

How are you “showing up?”

If you want to contribute to the work of anti-racism and transforming communities on campuses, a great place to start is by checking in with yourself and your organization. If you are showing up in ways that communicate your openness, readiness, and willingness to engage, you will create opportunities for yourself to become part of the work wherever you are.

Here are five ways you can reflect on how you show up so that your interactions with campuses demonstrate your commitment to this work:


1. If your visit to a campus is connected to your recruitment of students for specific full-time or internship opportunities, review your job descriptions, organization website, and other ways you may be showing up before your visit. Does your imagery and language signal inclusion? How about your job descriptions and deadlines? You may want to start your examination of this with a recent article published by Handshake, a well-known career services management system, outlining hiring practices that disadvantage Black students

2. When planning your visit, consider who will represent your organization and how you will enable them to share their perspectives. Being careful not to tokenize, can you involve Black and minoritized colleagues in your visit? If so, ensure their voices are heard and included in conversations. If not, why not? What might you do to change that in the future?

3. If your visit involves an opportunity for you to present on behalf of your organization, think about how you can authentically discuss the ways your organization celebrates diversity in the professional environment. Whether they articulate it to you or not, students are aware of the bias that exists in professionalism standards. I encourage you to proactively determine ways to communicate how your organization thinks about and advances inclusion in light of this.

4. Consider how you can build in time to candidly speak with campus community members about their experiences with social identities in the workplace. Can you connect with faculty and staff who regularly work with student organizations to hear their perspectives? When you are with students during your visit, how might you open a conversation about this subject? The conversation may help you learn things you can take back to your organization to create change. This may go without saying, but I do want to be clear here: this is a sensitive subject. If you do not have established trust with your audience, this conversation could do more harm than good.

5. Let Black and minoritized students take the lead in your visit. Are there student organizations on campus who are leading events that align with your organization’s mission? Could you participate in those events or help fund them? Perhaps you can offer support by way of conducting practice interviews, reviewing resumes, or sharing other professional expertise. Elevating their work and leadership will have great impact on their personal and career development.

While any or all of these may by meaningful experiences, I want to strongly encourage you to check in with your campus contacts to explore the culture, traditions, and current climate of the institution before engaging in this work with them. They will likely be able to guide you to determining the best methods for connecting and communicating during your visit. Each institution, like each one of us, is in a different place on their journey in this work.

Employers, I wish you all the best for a successful year in recruiting students and providing them with meaningful career opportunities. 


Kevin Grubb Bio

Kevin Grubb is Villanova University’s Executive Director of the Career Center and Assistant Vice Provost for Professional Development. In this role, he is responsible for the strategic direction of the university's career and professional development functions, empowering Villanova students and alumni to seek and attain personally rewarding careers. He is a nationally recognized expert in career services in higher education. Kevin was named the “Rising Star” by the American College Personnel Association in 2014 and also by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in 2015. He has held several leadership positions for NACE and is currently serving a two-year term on its Board of Directors. Kevin holds a BS in psychology from St. Joseph's University and an MA in Higher Education Administration from New York University.


Villanova University Career Center

The Villanova University Career Center provides high quality, comprehensive career services, empowering members of the Villanova University community to choose and attain personally rewarding careers. The Career Center delivers on this work through individualized career planning sessions with students and alumni, building programs with faculty and academic units, and creating partnerships with a variety of recruiting employers around the world.

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