How to get more Black Gen Z talent into your workplace and – importantly – keep them there

This is an image of a Black man smiling while looking down at his computer. He is wearing a denim shirt with a yellow tshirt underneath.

Generation Z is the most diverse cohort currently in the workplace, so employers need to ensure they are including Black Gen Z through support, mentorship and opportunities.

While data points to Gen Z making up 30 per cent of the workforce within six years, there are already a fair number of them working.

“We’re not just coming to workplace, we’ve been in the workplace now for six years,” says Mils Banji, the founder of TapIn, a social media agency dedicated to getting diverse communities into the working world.

“A lot of companies still don’t understand that. They still think: ‘Oh, Gen Z is only 18 or 19 years old, Gen Z is just leaving university’.” 

This generation are the most dynamic and diverse yet, he adds.

The most diverse generation at work

New research in the US found that 48 per cent of Gen Z, those people born between 1997 and 2012, is racially and ethnically diverse, while census data from England and Wales found that about one in four are ethnically and racially diverse.

And they expect to find the same representation in the office as in their local communities. 

“We want companies to do everything they can to make sure that the workplaces we’re moving into are reflective of how we’ve grown up,” Banji says.

This is an image of a young Black man. He is wearing a blazer with a light blue shirt. He has round glasses on.
Mils Banji is the founder of a social media agency that helps members of diverse communities into the working world. (TapIn)

In 2023, TapIn published This is Black Gen Z, a comprehensive guide for employers.

Banji and his team crafted recommendations employers can use to support Black Gen Z employees throughout the lifecycle of their work: from talent attraction and recruitment through to retention.

Salary, training opportunities and a commitment to diversity

While Black Gen Z jobseekers may be motivated by salary and training opportunities, Banji emphasises that “they value a company’s commitment to diversity, equity and belonging above everything else”.

TapIn’s report advises employers to showcase initiatives, share employee stories and be transparent about possible progress, while acknowledging gaps and the ongoing work that needs to be done.

The report highlights that 68.8 per cent of Gen Z jobseekers are motivated by a decent salary, but, as Banji points out, many job adverts don’t include how much candidates can expect to be paid.  

“If [businesses] can showcase what the salary is, more Black Gen Z candidates are going to be attracted to the role,” he says.

With 32 per cent of Black Gen Z potential employees prioritising training and development opportunities, it’s also important for employers to rethink their talent attraction strategy so candidates know there is space to thrive within the company, he adds.

This is an image of 2 Black women at work. The are both looking down at a tablet.
Employers need to have policies in place aimed at retaining Black Gen Z talent. (Getty Images/PinkNews)

Pull apart the application process

TapIn’s guide advises employers to embed accessibility into all ways of working and to pull apart the application process.

Part of this “pulling apart” involves knowing where applicants are going to look for jobs. Banji says that while traditional outlets such as job boards, LinkedIn and personal connections, are still widely used, he’s also seeing a trend of Black Gen Z people learning about career opportunities through influencers and other platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Banji doesn’t mean the huge influencers such as Kim Kardashian, but rather that influencer marketing has matured so much that nuances within the culture now exist.

“You have specific influencers, who just produce content around tech, for example, and their focus is tech and how to get into tech,” he says.

“So, what we get now is this wide plethora of creators and influencers who specialise in producing content to help individuals get into specific industries.”

Value in mentorship

Business leaders need to ensure that resources, policies and support are in place to retain Black Gen Z talent and keep them engaged once they’ve joined the workforce. TapIn’s report suggests employers focus on mentorship, investment in employee resource groups (ERGs) and anti-discrimination and allyship training.

Gen Z is eager to join company ERGs, and, when building this network, businesses should be aware of the intersections that individuals occupy and also consider how mentoring can weave into this sphere.

“Black Gen Z are more likely to grow and thrive [at work] if they have access to the information they need to develop, but also access to mentors and sponsors in those organisations,” Banji says.

He highlights the importance of tackling racism when it comes to retaining Black Gen Z employees, with 41 per cent calling for specific, rather than unconscious-bias, training.

“That training is needed more and more because of micro-aggressions and the racism that exists in the workplace. We saw a large proportion of young people saying: ‘Right, we need this training, we need companies to invest more of their resources and time into educating employees’.”