At FutureWorks 2022, held October 12 and 13 in New York City, thousands of professionals from more than 10 countries joined in person and online to talk about the future of work and its impact on the talent landscape. 

One theme of the conference was the employer responsibility to break down barriers in the hiring process. “Talent is universal; opportunity is not,” said Indeed CEO Chris Hyams in his kickoff presentation to attendees from across a range of business functions, most notably human resources. He explained that Indeed is committed to helping 30 million people globally who face employment barriers — such as having a criminal record, lacking a University education or having a gap in their resume — find jobs. When employers embrace inclusivity, the talent pool becomes more robust, higher quality and among all else, fair. “Indeed’s mission is to make sure no job seeker is left behind,” he said.

In-person attendees experienced this theme by engaging with an LED-projected koi fish pond. Perched atop a small wooden stage and surrounded by plants and astroturf, the pond stood under a banner that read, “The future of work is equitable. This means screening in (not screening out) underappreciated, untapped talent.”

Attendees interacted with the exhibit by standing on top of the pond itself. At first, only a few fish swam inside. But once the installation registered an attendee’s presence, prompts emerged on the underfoot screen. By stepping on a prompt, attendees were able to remove a certain barrier to employment in the United States, which then caused a related, surprising fact to be displayed:

Did you know that 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has a criminal record?

Would you have guessed that over half of the U.S. workforce doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree?

There are 1.07 million people in the U.S. who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks.

After these barriers were removed, the pond filled with swimming fish, a metaphor for the potential of a healthy and equitable talent pool.

The unemployment rate in Canada as of November of 2022 was 3.4%. But even in a tight labour market, people without a college degree or with a gap in their employment history face challenges finding a job. 

People Without Post-Secondary Degrees

People who don’t have a post-secondary degrees have an unemployment rate more than twice as high as the average in the US. In Canada post-secondary completion rates are relatively high but more than a third of Canadians lack a post-secondary degree and are often overlooked despite often having the competency and skills required to succeed in a role. Other barriers, like the requirement for Canadian experience, pose a similar challenge.

People with Disabilities

People with disabilities are often overlooked too. The United Nations estimates that 50% to 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed in industrialized countries — a figure that jumps to 80% to 90% in developing countries. And global data shows that the exclusion of people with disabilities may represent a loss of a country’s gross domestic product from 3% to 7%. 

This is the Moment

“This is the moment to rebuild work for everyone,” said LaFawn Davis, senior vice president of environmental, social and governance (ESG) at Indeed, during her presentation at FutureWorks, “No Job Seeker Left Behind.”

When it comes to hiring, Indeed believes skills trump degrees, the future trumps the past and humanity should always be front and center. When all of that happens, the talent pool flourishes.