This Q&A introduces Courtni, and the origin story of Clarity’s Partnership with NAAAHR-NJ. It covers why this relationship is meaningful to our business and to her personally ー especially as a Black woman in Human Resources and Recruitment. Here at Clarity, we are fortunate to have an open culture that encourages our individual Team members to share, advocate for, and introduce new networks directly to our CEO in order to build new relationships and partnerships. Courtni, who is an Account Executive within our Temporary Placement Division, has been personally involved in the NJ Chapter of NAAAHR. After several months of meaningful discourse between Clarity and NAAAHR-NJ, it became clear we could work together as partners to help advance our shared goal of encouraging diverse, equitable and inclusive environments in all the businesses we both work with. We thank you, Courtni, for suggesting this Partnership and all your work bringing it to fruition! We are excited to sit down with you and learn more…
Communications Team: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you discovered NAAAHR and specifically, the New Jersey chapter of NAAAHR?
Courtni Clarke: I’ve been an HR professional for almost ten years and have been focused on recruitment since 2018. I love what I do! It allows me to make a significant impact on the lives of others. The experience of meeting new candidates and helping them motivates me. I have a chance to listen to and help clarify their needs while advocating for them as they strive toward their career goals.
As for how I discovered NAAAHR – NJ, the seed was actually planted at a Clarity event! At Clarity, we have semi-annual HR Breakfast Seminars with our Employment Law Partner, Davis & Gilbert LLP. We invite our HR network to these events to keep them, and ourselves, up to date on HR laws and timely changes as they unfold. After a seminar last year, I was introduced to Karen Robinson, who is on the board as the VP of External Affairs & Engagement with NAAAHR – NJ. We quickly connected and I started to support her as her recruitment partner. Karen shared her duties as a member of the New Jersey Chapter, and told me how they support African Americans in HR ー and other industries, too. In early 2020, Karen invited me to attend a NAAAHR event, their anniversary celebration, “Renaissance 2020”, a special tribute to the Black Renaissance of the 1920s. That is where it all started ー and serves as proof that at least something good came out of 2020!
Communications Team: What drew you to NAAAHR in general?
Courtni Clarke: When I attended the celebration, I was a little nervous because I only knew Karen at the time. That quickly changed. I met some new HR professionals and even an acquaintance who was connected to NAAAHR. I also met Vanessa Phipps, the Board President. She was extremely kind and greeted me with a smile. I remember her going around the venue taking time to speak to everyone. There were a few speakers that shared their experiences, trends in the market, and goals for the new year. Attendees left the event with tools on how we can be better at what we do by improving HR processes, learning & development as well as recruiting. I loved that NAAAHR represents the underrepresented, talented faces of Human Resources across the country. I knew immediately that I wanted to surround myself with these kinds of leaders.
Communications Team: Tell us about Clarity Recruiting and your role there. What differentiates Clarity from other recruiting agencies?
Courtni Clarke: We are a women-owned recruitment firm that specializes in building better Teams for our clients, and helping our job-seeking candidates find the next steps in their careers. We serve as an extension of our Clients’ HR and recruitment Teams. One of our key differentiators is that we take a uniquely personalized approach to recruitment and team building. We make sure to meet all candidates face-to-face ー even if that means a one-on-one FaceTime or Zoom due to the pandemic! The next notable differentiator is our Commitment to encouraging diverse, equitable and inclusive environments within our walls, and inside those of our clients.
I actually came to Clarity as a job-seeking candidate, and I felt an immediate difference from other agencies just upon walking into our office. A lot of agencies get a bad rap for either being pushy or negligent, but it was clear to me that Clarity got it right and filled the void I felt in my prior agency dealings. Now that I’m a team member, I know it’s true. The model in our approach has brought us wonderful partnerships with clients and has allowed us to help candidates find their dream roles. The key ingredient is a meaningful human connection. We are boutique in size so our team is small but mighty. We are able to perform on par with larger agencies while maintaining the highest quality service.
Communications Team: What does Clarity do to advance diversity at their client companies?
Courtni Clarke: At Clarity, we do a variety of things to encourage thoughtful recruitment and to stave off our human tendency toward bias – unconscious and otherwise. We also discuss job qualifications in-depth with clients that are seeking to diversify. Together we determine if anything can be upskilled on the job to open up new candidate pools or experience sets. All of our recruiters are trained and armed with tactics to address, acknowledge, and eliminate unconscious bias from our recruitment practices. In addition, we encourage each recruiter and Team member to source across many diverse pipelines as well as bring in their own new networks to increase diversity within our candidate pools. I’m pleased to have been welcomed so warmly by NAAAHR, as this partnership is indicative of my own personal effort to do so! Thankfully, Clarity has been super supportive of advancing this relationship.
This year, more than ever, the need for diversity within our client organizations has come into greater focus. Our top priority has always been to present the best candidates possible for each role we work on. Every qualified candidate that can add value to a Team deserves to be considered, not simply the one that “fits in the best” to existing cultures.
Communications Team: What does the future of recruiting hold in 2021?
Courtni Clarke: I wish we could predict the future, especially after the year we just had! One thing is clear this year however, and that is that building a diverse team will become non-negotiable, not just a “nice to have”. I hope we can eliminate having to service the request for diversity all together as it eventually becomes the expectation. AI think a professional team is its strongest when it has members who come from different backgrounds and are empathetic, independent thinkers. I am hopeful that this can be the year that more CEOs and Hiring Leaders will recognize the value of diversity within their organizations. This recognition would be one of the most significant steps towards progress toward equity in recruitment and I’m motivated to be a part of it this year.
Communications Team: How can a job seeker, or a talent seeker partner with Clarity?
Courtni Clarke: There are different opportunities to partner with Clarity. As a job seeker, we can be a resource for you as you navigate the ebbs and flows of job hunting. As a talent seeker, we can take the load off and focus on the steps you can take ー for you!! ー in order to bring the best talent to your teams. And if you are somewhere in between, we are always sharing our knowledge and resources on different platforms so one can learn from us, and get in touch no matter what type of transition you’re going through.
Communications Team: What does this partnership mean to you, and your business?
Courtni Clarke: This partnership is very important to me. As a woman of color in recruitment, I want to create opportunities in environments where, oftentimes, faces like mine aren’t represented. I saw a pain point through my own professional experience, a lack of diversity. I realized there was a lot of talent out there without access to opportunities, so I’ve made it a personal mission to bridge that gap. It’s not a new pain point of course, but it’s been amplified over the past year. It’s more important than ever to take action in the community and in the professional world, and not just talk about it. Thankfully, Clarity agrees and is committed to doing so. Working from home and a distanced social lifestyle has caused work to become part of my personal life more than ever. I work with my colleagues far more ーalbeit from homeー than I spend time with my friends and family. As a result, I feel a heightened level of responsibility not only to my Team but to Clients I support in my role to advance equitable environments in business. I want to help enable the action we’ve been talking about taking, and encourage others to do the same through this partnership.
We are uniquely positioned, as recruiters and hiring partners to our clients, to encourage hiring outcomes by introducing them to candidates they may not have met through their own networks alone. Pro-actively expanding Clarity’s access to amazing Black ーand African American in generalー HR professionals by way of our NAAAHR-NJ partnership is only my first step to living Clarity’s commitment to diverse and equitable recruitment. I have the chance to leave a footprint as a Black woman in HR, and I want to create a legacy and pave the way for those behind me with limited access to opportunity. This is the first of many steps forward, and I’m grateful for NAAAHR to be by my side as we move forward, and for Clarity to support this important work.
Communications Team: Thank you so much for your time today, Courtni! We look forward to hearing more about NAAAHR-NJ and your journey!