This story is a guest contribution from RiseKit, an organization on a mission to break down barriers and provide equal opportunities for everyone to pursue fulfilling careers, regardless of their background.
As more companies look to build diverse and inclusive workplaces, there’s one hiring strategy that’s often overlooked: community hiring initiatives. The initiatives, in which employers partner with local organizations to access untapped talent pools, fill empty roles while also contributing to economic mobility. Getting these initiatives off the ground, however, often requires significant coordination and engagement.
Keys to successful community hiring initiatives
Typically, the success of a community hiring initiative hinges on the active involvement of various teams within a company, as well as collaboration from multiple stakeholders. Identifying the correct internal leaders and teams at your organization, and pinpointing what matters to them, can help to advance this important work. Here are some tactics to consider when building a community hiring initiative and working to advance diversity and inclusion in recruitment at your organization.
Focus on innovation
Is your company recognized for innovation? Specifically, what about innovation in hiring and talent programs, such as learn-and-earn initiatives, apprenticeships, or upskilling/reskilling efforts? While not every company needs to have all of these programs to be deemed innovative, having some in place strengthens the case for integrating community hiring initiatives.
Innovative companies willing to participate or launch these types of programs generally have these factors that lay the groundwork for successfully integrating community hiring initiatives:
- Frontline employment needs: They have requirements for frontline operations and customer-facing roles, in addition to corporate and technology functions.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitments: They showcase an outward-facing commitment to DEI and philanthropy, and have removed barriers to employment, such as mandatory degrees.
- Early career programs: They maintain robust early career programs, encompassing internships and K-12 initiatives, along with well-structured training programs.
- Employee development focus: They are dedicated to employee development, placing an emphasis on continuous learning and internal mentorship programs.
Align with corporate social responsibility goals
Community hiring initiatives often align seamlessly with a company’s corporate social
responsibility (CSR) or environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals by focusing on enhancing employee engagement within the community or establishing philanthropic relationships with organizations.
These leaders are particularly intrigued by topics that strategically align with their company's values and mission. In larger organizations, specific cities and states are overseen by regional CSR and ESG officers, ensuring a strategic approach to community engagement. In smaller organizations, the team is more compact, allowing for direct communication and coordination with the organization’s head of CSR or ESG. Consider the following topics to initiate a meaningful conversation with these leaders to showcase how community hiring initiatives can lend support:
- Employee volunteerism
- Community engagement
- Employee well-being
- Positive relationship-building
By strategically incorporating these themes into discussions with CSR leaders, you can effectively leverage community hiring initiatives to not only meet an organization’s CSR goals but also make a lasting positive impact on the communities in which they operate.
Collaborate with talent acquisition and HR
Talent acquisition, recruitment, and HR teams serve as the tactical force for implementing innovative talent solutions. Collaborating with these teams is essential to building a compelling case for how community hiring initiatives can effectively address future talent needs.
It's important to acknowledge that HR and recruitment teams may often be under-resourced, juggling competing priorities, or facing limited budgets for implementing new and innovative solutions. To successfully engage with leaders from this team, consider focusing on the following topics:
- Future of work
- Early careers
- DEI hiring
- Industry trends
- Learn-and-earn programs
- Innovative internship programs
- Retention strategies
By addressing these key areas, organizations can align community hiring initiatives with the strategic objectives of HR teams and foster a collaborative approach that ensures the success of new talent solutions.
Engage with the DEI team
In recent years, DEI teams have assumed a more prominent role. Leaders in DEI are dedicated to creating workplaces and communities that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive, with responsibilities spanning a broad range of topics, including diversity and inclusion in recruitment. They often provide guidance on implementing new solutions to enhance workforce diversity and work with employee resource groups (ERGs) to contribute to local communities. Engaging the DEI team is essential when it comes to building programs that link diverse talent to the company's talent pipeline efforts as they play a crucial role in shepherding such programs and fostering greater involvement from talent acquisition and HR.
Here are some key areas of interest for DEI leaders:
- Implementing strategies to attract and retain diverse talent
- Addressing systemic inequities within organizational structures and processes
- Conducting pay equity analyses to ensure fair compensation
- Fostering inclusive work environments
- Implementing diversity and inclusion in recruitment, hiring, and training programs
- Instituting accessibility and accommodations
- Supporting and leveraging ERGs to create a sense of community
- Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure DEI progress
- Using data to identify areas for improvement and track the impact of initiatives
- Engaging with external communities to understand their needs and concerns
- Participating in industry collaborations and initiatives related to DEI
Work with the government affairs and community affairs departments
Large companies typically maintain dedicated teams responsible for government and community affairs. Leaders of these teams play a crucial role in managing relationships with external stakeholders, including government entities and local communities. Their responsibilities often involve navigating regulatory environments, engaging with policymakers, and contributing to corporate social responsibility. Key topics of interest for leaders in government and community affairs include:
- Engaging government officials to advocate for policies that align with the company’s interests
- Participating in industry association and advocacy groups
- Creating white papers, policy briefs, and materials to articulate a stance on relevant issues
- Building coalitions with like-minded organizations to amplify advocacy
- Building and maintaining positive relationships with local communities where the company operates
- Participating in community events and forums to understand and address local concerns
- Crafting messaging and communication strategies to effectively convey the company’s positions on key matters
Growing community hiring and building diversity and inclusion in recruitment
With a strategic focus, alignment between departments, and the drive to create partnerships with community-based organizations, companies can unleash the full potential of community hiring initiatives and diversity and inclusion in recruitment. In return, companies can transform their workforces, strengthen customer relationships, and create tangible effects on economic mobility and regional outcomes.