6 Ways to Take Your Diversity + Inclusion Program from Intention to Impact

Co-authored by Daniel Lurie and Chauncy Lennon

Last month, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission held a public hearing to take a hard look at diversity data in the tech sector.

Currently, the number of African American and Latino/a technical employees at top Silicon Valley companies hovers around 5–7 percent. At the same time, the government estimates there are around 500,000 ICT (information communications technology) jobs currently open, and more than a million new, similar jobs being created in the next decade.

JPMorgan Chase recently released a report, Tech Jobs for All?, about the effectiveness of the multiple tech training programs that have sprouted up to address the employment gap in the sector. According to the report, from 2014 to 2015, in the U.S. and Canada, the number of coding bootcamps nearly tripled.

There’s no single solution to this challenge, but there is a clear need to address it — in the tech sector and in all industries.

As leaders in business and philanthropy, we have heard from both for-profit and non-profit partners alike about the challenges they face in creating a more diverse talent pipeline, and about the efforts of underrepresented candidates who are qualified and motivated to enter the tech world, but struggle to gain a foothold.

Recently, SF Gives, a community of Bay Area companies committed to alleviating poverty in the region, gathered with other top business and non-profit leaders to share best practices and tactical ideas for meeting this challenge head on.

JP Morgan: Intention to Impact — Grantee Panelists

We heard from name brands like Pinterest, LinkedIn and Salesforce.org about their diversity and inclusion programming, and from community partners, Year Up, The Stride Center and Upwardly Global about the benefits of hiring underrepresented candidates with nontraditional backgrounds.

Here are six of their best practices that can help any company establish, improve or scale their diversity and inclusion programs:

  • Start early. Diverse teams are 35 percent more likely to outperform homogeneous ones. Incorporating a diversity and inclusion plan into the early days of a company isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do.
  • Set a goal and be transparent. Pinterest started its diversity and inclusion programming very early on and released demographic data, but quickly realized it needed to do better. The company decided to treat this like any other business imperative by setting hiring goals and sharing them publicly. Accountability practices are good for business and will push others to make meaningful change.
  • Go from organic to operational. When LinkedIn grew from 800 to almost 10,000 employees in just six years, the company’s leadership knew they had to put more rigor and intention around its employee-led organic diversity efforts. Cultivate internal champions and work with them to identify candidates, partner with nontraditional community-based recruiting partners, and build infrastructure to help operationalize successful ideas.
  • Select strong community partners. With its 1–1–1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy, giving back is engrained into the culture at Salesforce, but Salesforce.org knows it needs experts by its side to help programs move from intention to impact. The company has partnered with employment organizations like Year Up to connect to youth from underrepresented communities, giving students experience in a corporate setting and its employees meaningful mentorship opportunities. Since the partnership started in 2009, Salesforce has hosted 202 Year Up interns and about 50 percent have stayed on as full-time employees or contractors.
  • Broaden opportunities and hiring requirements.“Talent is equally distributed in this country, but opportunity is not,” said Emily Schaffer, Interim Executive Director for Year Up Bay Area. Incorporating more diversity in the workplace means expanding job requirements and opportunities for candidates regardless of age, gender, race or economic background. Upwardly Global recommends considering apprenticeships or mid-ternships (young people aren’t the only ones who need opportunity!) to offer varied experiences to a wider range of candidates. Ask yourself whether a college degree is essential for every role you need to fill.
  • Design hiring practices to consider nontraditional backgrounds. No matter how strong the desire is from a company to attract a diverse workforce, if the hiring practices aren’t designed to embrace candidates who don’t follow a traditional path — maybe the candidate is self-taught, attended a bootcamp or MOOC (massive open online course) as opposed to college, or has a degree from a foreign country — then the demographics won’t change. Stride Center recommends training hiring managers to help them see talent even when it looks slightly different from what they’re accustomed to seeing.

The convening in San Francisco was insightful, candid and motivating. With more than 100 representatives from top companies and non-profits in the room and a waitlist for entry, it’s clear our community is committed to addressing these issues and continuing the discussion.

While addressing these challenges may seem daunting, we’d encourage you to start small. Talk to your colleagues in charge of hiring; learn more about your company’s recruiting practices, or introduce HR to a local non-profit focused on employment.

What will you do to help drive the conversation?

This story was originally published in Forbes.com, Grads of Life series.

Daniel Lurie is CEO + Founder of Tipping Point Community, a non-profit that finds, funds and partners with organizations that fight poverty in the Bay Area.

Chauncy Lennon is Head of Workforce Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase and leads the company’s activities to promote economic opportunity and prosperity through investments in workforce practice, innovation, and policy. JPMorgan Chase is a corporate partner of Tipping Point through its SF Gives initiative.