Consultants recommend hiring candidates without degrees to ‘diversify’ staff

Gartner, a consulting firm, recommended employees hire candidates with ‘non-linear career paths,’ which ‘translates to a de-emphasis on four-year degrees,’ according to CNBC.

Gartner says that this will help companies ‘expand and diversify their talent pipelines,’ following a trend of state employers and major companies ditching the degree requirement.

An influential consulting firm predicted–and recommended–that more companies hire based on candidates’ skills, not their college degrees. 

Skills-based hiring allows companies to diversify their staff, according to a report that CNBC recently shared from Gartner, which advises “[m]ore than 15,000 client enterprises in more than 100 countries” on finance, human resources, marketing, and other functions. 

In a list of the “Top Nine Workplace Predictions” for chief human resources officers (CHROs), Gartner wrote, “Organizations are being forced to expand and diversify their talent pipelines due to employees increasingly charting non-linear career paths.” To do this, Gartner continued, “organizations will need to become more comfortable assessing candidates solely on their ability to perform in the role” rather than “formal education and experience.”

“That translates to a de-emphasis on four-year degrees,” CNBC reported after interviewing Emily McRae with Gartner’s HR Practice. 

[RELATED: WATCH: Companies ditch four-year degree requirement]

“‘We have been using education as a proxy, and it’s very important to figure out why,’” McRae told CNBC

Gartner’s report linked additional recommendations based on on a conference session, “‘Advancing Underrepresented Talent in a Hybrid Work Environment.’” As Gartner helps implement “diversity, equity and inclusion goals,” it joins other companies, non-profits, and even universities in devaluing four-year degrees. 

Changing requirements follow a trend as companies respond to a “tight labor market” and “address racial disparities in the workplace,” according to The Wall Street Journal

Google, IBM, Delta Airlines, and, as Campus Reform reported, state jobs in Maryland and Utah, are filling more jobs with non-college graduates, sometimes changing their requirements with the assistance of advocacy efforts. 

Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit that wants to cut degree requirements, worked with Maryland on its program” after Gov. Larry Hogan “said the government would review college-degree requirements for every state job,” The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Opportunity@Work promotes skills-based hiring, citing data that “adding a four-year degree requirement automatically screens out 76% of African Americans, 81% of Americans in rural communities, and 83% of LatinX workers.” 

In one of its initiatives, it partnered with Youngstown State University (YSU) in Ohio on a platform sourcing non-degree holding candidates. YSU’s Division of Workforce Education and Innovation describes the platform as a way “to connect employers with [a] diverse, skilled workforce.” 

When employers do require a degree, some are telling candidates to “keep their colleges off resumes,” according to a Campus Reform report on a job earning $121,668.75 to $138,432 a year. 

“This request is part of our ongoing work to build a hiring system that is free from bias and based on candidate merit and performance in the hiring process,” the job posting reads. 

Colleges and universities are also updating their requirements in the name of equity. During the fall 2022 semester, Campus Reform reported that “1,830 colleges and universities did not require incoming students this fall to take the SAT or ACT tests.”

[RELATED: WATCH: Accreditation council to end LSAT]

“‘In most cases, admissions offices that did not require standardized exam score submission received more applicants, better academically qualified applicants, and more diverse pools of applicants,’” Robert Schaeffer, the Public Education Director of FairTest, told Campus Reform.  

FairTest is a non-profit “plac[ing] special emphasis on eliminating the racial, class, gender, and cultural barriers to equal opportunity posed by standardized tests.”

“The War on Merit” has also come to high schools taking the pre-SAT (PSAT), according to an article in City Journal

“For years, two administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) have been withholding notifications of National Merit awards from the school’s families, most of them Asian, thus denying students the right to use those awards to boost their college-admission prospects and earn scholarships,” City Journal reported. 

TJ, a “top school” ranked by U.S. News and World Report, withheld National Merit recognition from the son of the article’s author, the journalist and Independent Women’s Network fellow Asra Nomani

“‘We want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements,’” a TJ school official admitted to a parent. Nomani wrote, “that he and the principal didn’t want to ‘hurt’ the feelings of students who didn’t get the award.” 

Nomani’s advocacy and reports from Campus Reform suggest that the “War on Merit” hurts students like Nomani and her son. 

“It was America’s public school system and its culture of meritocracy that allowed me, an immigrant girl from India who arrived at age 4 not knowing a word of English, to become a reporter for The Wall Street Journal at age 23,” Nomani wrote in The New York Times. 

Campus Reform shared report from the Heritage Foundation, which “found that standardized testing gives a student from a ‘low-income family’ a ‘ticket to college’ if he can ‘demonstrate his [academic] promise’ on the assessment.” 

The Heritage Foundation created the report in response to the University of California (UC) System deciding against “considering SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship decisions through at least 2025.” Nearly a year after the decision, Campus Reform reported that the UC System considered “alternatives to the conventional letter grade system in the interest of solving ‘bias and inequities.’” 

Campus Reform contacted Gartner, Opportunity@Work, Nomani, and Youngstown State University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.