It’s no surprise that the Great Recession of 2008–2009 has been brutal. Since December 2007, when the recession started, nearly 6 million workers have been cut from employer payrolls. At press time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. unemployment stood at 8.9%—the highest since 1982. For African Americans, the jobless rate has reached a staggering 15%, the worst such measure in more than 20 years.
But even as corporations continue to lay off scores of workers, we’ve learned a couple of seemingly incongruent facts—worker productivity is up and companies are hiring. Although hires fell to their lowest rates in eight years nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are close to 3 million jobs available in the U.S. And approximately 40,000 of those positions are available among the companies that made Black Enterprise’s list of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity this year.
So how can it be true that companies are actually hiring employees in the midst of an economic crisis marked by rising unemployment, multibillion-dollar bailouts, and record bankruptcy filings?
“Many companies are using the new opportunities to retool their workforce and bring in the skill sets they feel will be most needed going forward,” asserts Joe Watson, CEO of Without Excuses and Strategic Hire in Reston, Virginia. “This is simply about hiring the best. Talented people who possess tremendous skills are currently in the market. Many companies are using this time to upgrade their workforce. In the world of capitalism, it is all about competitive advantage, and that begins with the talent level of your people.”
Organizations are being forced to rethink their business models. The best among them will create a more viable technological and talent management infrastructure to propel growth and productivity. The leadership that presides over our 40 Best Companies for Diversity fully understands that inclusion is vital to achieving those objectives. And for those efforts, their corporations have been awarded our top distinction.