Best Practices for Fostering Diversity & Inclusion

According to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), below are some best practices for fostering Diversity & Inclusion. You can read the article at OFCCP here as well.

  • CEO Leadership through Correspondence and Video – These company-wide videos and newsletters set the tone for employees, managers, and leaders throughout the company. They include a statement affirming the company’s commitment to non-discrimination and equal opportunity practices from corporate leaders. Clearly communicating diversity and inclusion goals helps eliminate impediments in the employment processes and encourages proactive recruitment.
  • Outreach Efforts – Federal contractors can establish relationships with HBCUs through their Career Centers (or Career Services) and obtain points of contact through whom the company can provide listings of available employment opportunities and internships. Federal contractors can identify and select HBCUs with academic programs that specifically relate to company products and services to establish internships and create a talent pipeline.
  • Network Within – Federal contractors can survey their current workforce for referrals of qualified recent graduates of HBCUs. An employee referral reward program can be created to strengthen this practice. These alumni can provide a gauge of the current priorities and needs of the HBCUs, and will also be a great source for mentors when HBCU students are brought on board.
  • Employee Resource Groups – Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) offer employees an opportunity to network, address shared issues and concerns, and receive support from similarly situated individuals. Federal contractors should encourage the creation of forum groups, e.g. African-American, Hispanic, AAPI, and conduct meetings with each group to discuss recruitment, outreach, mentoring, diversity, inclusion, and development programs.
  • Internships – Creating an internship program is a valuable best practice when it comes to attracting and developing future employees. Whether it be a summer internship or an internship developed on a quarterly or semester schedule, such programs ensure that your company has a constant pipeline of trained employees. Providing scholarships or stipends to students at HBCUs, and also offering internship opportunities with housing assistance are also excellent opportunities.
  • Mentoring Programs – A mentoring program is a great way to help a new employee intimately learn about your company, while encouraging them to pursue recurring internships while completing their degree.
  • Apprenticeship Programs – Federal contractors’ connections with HBCUs are instrumental in providing real work experience to apprenticeship program participants and other career readiness programs including individuals with disabilities and veterans.
  • Career Fairs – A career fair is another resource that attracts talented candidates. Many colleges and universities have annual and semi-annual career fairs. These fairs often prepare students by disclosing available jobs, and qualifications. Federal contractors can attend on-campus job fairs at HBCUs and work with college career services departments. Such participation could include providing suggestions on interview preparation, guidance on developing a resume, and advice on career paths. Companies could also bring their best interns and young alumni to discuss the work they are doing and highlight their responsibilities.
  • Social Media – Today’s college students are extremely social media savvy. In order to attract top talent, contractors must meet them where they are. Contractors may find that directing their social media recruiting efforts to such sites as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn will garner great options.
  • Campus Information Visits – Campus information visits can be used to link HBCU students with high-quality career programs offered by federal contractors. By offering on-campus workshops and events, contractors can connect with an HBCU’s pool of talented students to achieve recruiting goals. Even something as simple as an information table in a high traffic area of the campus will allow contractors to network with students interested in the career fields offered by the company. Federal contractors should consider including HBCUs as a part of their recruitment strategies and target the population by attending open houses, connecting with alumni associations, and attending functions as they occur on the campus and in the communities.
  • HBCU Alumni Associations – Many HBCUs are represented in almost every large city throughout their alumni association. These groups are invaluable as they maintain a direct line of communication to their respective HBCUs. Federal contractors can identify alumni of HBCUs and meet with them to discuss diversity, and recruitment, and to share ideas. HBCU alumni at the company can also identify other diverse candidates, share key information about their HBCU, provide points of contact, and serve as ambassadors to engage their community to tell them about the company.
  • Establishing Relationships – Make a point of contact at the various internal departments at the HBCUs (for example, many universities have veterans’ programs and programs for individuals with disabilities). Work with these contacts to create a pilot internship program. Formalize the relationship so that it doesn’t disappear when individuals move on to new positions. Federal contractors can contact and form relationships with specific HBCU academic departments. Both entities should discuss the company’s needs and identify how HBCU graduates can help meet such needs. Build partnerships with HBCU organizations focused on equitable recruitment, such as HBCU 20x20.
  • Connect with National Organizations – Partner with national Black foundations, faith-based institutions, and conferences. By establishing a partnership, you can provide significant value to your diversity outreach effort. Federal contractors can establish and maintain liaisons with organizations and professional groups such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to help minority employees from HBCUs find employment and succeed in the workplace. Federal contractors can contact the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) for targeted recruitment of law students nationwide. Examples of potential partner organizations include NAFEO; National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Foundation, National Society of Black Engineers, and National Black Law Students Association