By Lori Graham
The American business world is being challenged to diversify its talent pool to better reflect the changing face of America.
To some extent, businesses are already making headway in this effort. Today, about 60 percent of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree are female. While women are still relatively rare in positions of corporate leadership, the glass ceiling is starting to shatter, and progress will continue to be made as this current group gains traction and career experience.
However, many minority groups continue to be underrepresented within white-collar America. Many talented individuals from diverse backgrounds have limited exposure to the benefits and opportunities of business as a career choice. That’s why we, in the accounting profession, are welcoming greater diversity by starting earlier, with college students just beginning to explore their career options.
You should begin by recruiting on campuses that specifically promote and support diversity initiatives. Many professional associations exist with the goal of promoting the involvement and leadership of minorities in professional fields. We have had a lot of success with student organizations such as ALPFA, ASCEND and NABA. Such university chapters are tasked with encouraging participation with companies and introducing them early to employees with other firms that can not only mentor them, but also assist them with future employment opportunities. Check out the associations’ websites to find out where student chapters can be found, or call the universities where you intend to recruit. It might take extra effort, but it’s worth it to expand your reach to seek out good candidates from varied backgrounds.
You can also help diversify your profession in other important ways.
- Endorse flexible hours for working mothers. Even today, moms tend to be primarily responsible on a day-to-day basis for raising their children. They need maternity leave and flexible hours to support their families as well as their careers.
- Offer mentorship programs. Nothing succeeds like success. Whenever you can, pair young minority hires with business professionals of the same peer group. The established professional will serve as inspiration and a source of guidance and direction to help keep good people on a career track.
Each of us should explore what we can do to help businesses better reflect the America we see outside of our office doors.
Lori Graham is a Recruiting Manager in Human Resources at Wiss & Co. LLP. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.