Solving the Talent Crisis While Making an Impact
The global workforce of tomorrow will look far different than today and where the next wave of talent will come from may be surprising.
Your company’s next recruit may be a refugee, a young professional from an underserved community, a neurodivergent individual, a second-chance worker with a criminal background or an entire virtual crowdsourced team.
All of these segments have the potential to open up pipelines of millions of employees.
By hiring individuals outside the traditional view of what defines a typical candidate and changing outdated requirements, employers can not only begin to solve talent shortage issues but also make a social impact.
And beyond that, companies will find dedicated employees who stay on the job longer and can become their greatest assets, according to speakers from the following organizations who shared their creative approaches and successes at IAOP’s Center for Social Impact Meeting of the Minds:
- Global Mentoring Initiative
- Tent Partnership for Refugees
- Kelly Equity@Work
- Kirkland & Ellis and CAI Neurodiverse Solutions
Global Mentoring Initiative
Alnarjes Harba is the first Middle Eastern graduate of Southern New Hampshire’s College for America program with a Bachelor of Healthcare Management and a minor in communication – a degree she completed in just two years on a scholarship.
She holds a master’s degree in Global Health in conflict from St. George’s, University of London and a Turkish Language Proficiency certificate. Harba has worked as an English teacher in Lebanon and done research at U.S. universities and completed a Cisco Networking apprenticeship among other enriching experiences.
She’s also a Syrian refugee who escaped from her home country when it was under attack and spent three years living in a camp in Lebanon.
This strong determined individual who is passionate about gaining knowledge and always eager for new opportunities and experiences has the desire, skills, and academic background for many positions in diverse fields.
Yet, after fleeing her country she struggled when her high school certificate was not recognized by the Lebanese government. While she excelled in furthering her higher education, she lacked knowledge on how to apply for a job on the Internet, present her experience in a resume/CV, or master interview questions.
That’s where the Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI) came in to make an impact on Harba’s life ¬so she could go on to do the same for others.
Based on her aptitude and potential, Harba was nominated by Southern New Hampshire University to work with an international business mentor in Spain for a comprehensive career readiness program through GMI - a nonprofit organization that provides guidance and business skills to college students through online mentorship and prepares them for their first career job.
It was life-changing.
She learned global business communication skills and advanced LinkedIn strategy and developed career-essential soft skills. Her mentor took her through every step of the job application process and taught her how to differentiate herself in job searches and interviews.
Today she is living in London and working as a Student Ambassador for the program sharing her positive experiences. She joined IAOP’s Social Impact on-location meeting in New York remotely to talk about the power of the mentorship program.
“Refugees don’t know about remote work or how to apply for jobs on the Internet,” she says. “They have skills and knowledge and are academically prepared but just need some instruction to empower them and improve their job research and communications skills to engage in new cultures.”
Through the mentoring of college students in underserved communities, GMI connects students and professionals around the world to create an ecosystem of opportunity. CEO Jon Browning talked about how GMI grew out of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa initiative that found South African youth were less competitive in job searches and needed additional mentoring support.
In two and half years, GMI has grown to include global partners in 74 countries and has mentored 4,500 students and refugees. The structured, short-term, online mentorship program makes it easy for business professionals to become mentors and help launch the careers of professionals like Harba.
Tent Partnership for Refugees Impact Sourcing Initiative
Another conduit to individuals with amazing skill sets, language proficiency, talents and resiliency that can help solve talent shortage struggles is the Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent) – a non-profit that is mobilizing the business world to help improve the lives of over 36 million refugees who have been displaced from their home countries.
Hamdi Ulukaya, Chairman and CEO of Chobani, was motivated to start Tent in 2016 by his own positive experiences with refugees in the workforce, having discovered that “the minute a refugee gets a job is the minute they stop being a refugee.”
Today, Tent works with over 300 major companies committed to integrating refugees into their host communities. With global displacement at record levels as a result of recent crises in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other parts of the world, the need is greater than ever. The business community has shown unprecedented support to develop programs to hire, train, mentor, or include refugees in their workforces, according to Tent.
Through a partnership with IAOP, Tent successfully launched an impact-sourcing initiative in Colombia to advance the integration of Venezuelan refugees and support their host communities, resulting in the hiring of 5,000 refugees in Colombia alone. Leaders at the Center for Social Impact event including Sutherland and Webhelp are among the partners involved in the Tent initiative.
With their strong language skills and naturally friendly and warm personalities, these highly-educated individuals have excelled in sales and customer service roles, particularly in the call center industry, said Tent Deputy Director Ileana Cruz-Marden.
Cruz-Marden shared the challenges refugees face such as not being able to validate credentials for their education or employment when they are forced to leave behind their records or being unable to offer future employers prior job references.
But these resilient workers have higher productivity rates, greater engagement, stay on the job longer and are loyal workers – making a strong business case for hiring refugees while also solving pressing humanitarian issues. Consumers also want to support businesses that work with refugee causes they believe in, Cruz-Marden said.
Tent provides research, inclusion guidebooks sharing best practices, and other resources that make it easier for companies to implement initiatives in countries where refugees are legally permitted to work. Joining Tent is free and includes global leaders like Starbucks, Amazon, FedEx, and Unilever.
“You can change the life of someone who had to leave everything behind,” she said.
Even while employers are desperate for talent, large numbers of otherwise qualified workers are unable to secure employment due to outdated hiring practices – a barrier that Kelly Services is helping to remove through its Equity@Work program.
Among the obstacles Kelly is working to eliminate are policies, procedures and education requirements that don’t apply in current work times, promoting second-chance employment hiring and connecting underleveraged talent pools like neurodiverse individuals and veterans with work. It is working with employers to rethink talent strategies, end discriminatory hiring practices, and help deserving individuals find opportunities for meaningful work.
Equity also can be a powerful retention strategy. According to Kelly surveys, 72 percent of individuals are more likely to seek employment with companies committed to breaking down barriers at work.
Pam Sands, Vice President of Product Management and Partnerships at Kelly Services, shared how the workforce solutions provider was women who were displaced from the workforce post-war by returning servicemen in 1946, leading Kelly to put them to work in temporary job assignments as “Kelly Girls.” Today it is continuing its history of addressing ways to remove barriers to work and build a more inclusive workforce.
Through its “Kelly 33” Second Chances Program, the firm is helping job seekers with nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies unrelated to their job responsibilities find employment. Kelly 33 represents an emerging mindset around employers being open to employing people with criminal histories – which represents one in three working Americans or 33 percent.
“These workers are loyal, dependable and thankful for the opportunity to work,” Sands says. “Second chance employment changes the trajectories for individuals and future generations and their chances of having another justice involvement diminishes.”
Other areas Kelly is tackling are the job requirements of four-year college degrees that exclude promising candidates, and helping veterans and candidates with autism spectrum disorder enter the workforce with greater ease.
Kirkland & Ellis and CAI Neurodiverse Solutions
Kirkland & Ellis has found great rewards working with CAI Neurodiverse Solutions, an end-to-end neurodiversity employment program that helps organizations realize the benefits of neurodiversity.
Advancing the law firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, Kirkland and Ellis began working with individuals in the CAI program in 2018, starting with assignments for four individuals. The contractors go through the interviewing processes and are managed onsite by a trained supervisor.
“They have an outstanding work ethic and want to find solutions and ask great questions,” said Michael Slago, Director of Risk Management at Kirkland & Ellis, who shared the firm’s successes at the IAOP event. “They are fully committed and interested in growing their careers.”
These CAI team members come from different backgrounds and hold associates to masters degrees. While they started with the firm’s database upgrade, their roles quickly became more challenging and expanded into new areas including quality assurance (QA) audits of data systems and reports, including in-depth analyses of thousands of data points a month, and identified opportunities to vastly improve processes and accuracy.
Among the standouts is an employee named Tim, who took the initiative to improve his technology and library research skills and sought mentors. His strong communication skills, ability to learn quickly and commitment led Kirkland & Ellis to create a permanent position and hire him.
“We have an amazing team from so many different backgrounds,” says Slago. “The strengths, abilities, personalities and challenges are so dynamic and unique to each individual, and it’s been a highlight of my career to work alongside and get to know these individuals.”
Imagine having the resources of a 2.3-million-person workforce, including refugees, remote workers, women and others from underserved populations that you can scale up and down based on demand fluctuations.
This is the solution ScaleHub is bringing to the talent crisis.
Scalable automated crowdsourcing is an approach that allows employers to handle employee fluctuations and workload peaks easily by employing an on-demand workforce – and it can be done with a social impact.
ScaleHub employs an approach to crowdsourcing called micro-tasking, which breaks larger critical tasks such as tax form automation or claims processing into smaller parts accomplished by a pool of individuals working from all over the world quickly completing their tasks. The technology platform uses Artificial Intelligence and the cloud.
With the ability to request your crowd worker pool, such as workers from a specific region in 75 countries or persons with disabilities, employers can make a social impact.
“It’s more inclusive and a creative intelligence approach. You can bring in talent to do meaningful work that’s agile, cost-effective and rewarding,” said Susanne Richter-Wills, VP of Partnerships EMEA, ScaleHub.