Economic inclusion is loosely defined as the opening up of economic opportunities to previously under-served social groups. Broadening talent pools to cast a wider net when hiring is one tactic to promote economic inclusion and diversify an organization’s workforce - not just because it is good for business but because it is morally the right thing to do. Anchor institutions such as universities or hospitals that are rooted in their local communities can do so much more to positively promote and influence economic inclusion. Here are some action steps that organizations can take to implement an economic inclusion initiative:
- Make the commitment to hire local a leadership directive
- Identify internal HR and community outreach staff to lead the initiative
- Identify target positions - typically high turnover job roles. Use qualitative and quantitative to understand what is causing high turnover. Is it voluntary or involuntary? What is the source of hire with the lowest retention rates?
- Look for opportunities by identifying barriers to employment and finding solutions. Drexel University has a very robust economic inclusion initiative and describes “look for opportunities” this way:
Gather information on job-postings to identify positions that are being posted most frequently. These can flag areas of work or divisions that are growing quickly at your organization and which therefore represent opportunities for locally-focused and employer-customized recruitment, training, and placement programs. It is helpful to collaborate with colleagues in the institution who would have the best awareness of job openings being posted, and how frequently. Staying connected to decision-makers leading divisions that do a lot of hiring will help you become aware of these opportunities.
In our training programs, we take advantage of federal and state program funding available through our city’s workforce-access agency. This funding provides us with six months of wage reimbursement for recruits in a customized training program, and the salary savings we experience can help us sell the program to colleagues.
- Use data to identify distressed areas (zip codes) and set hiring goals for target positions. Collect data to understand your constituents. Look at high school completion %, literacy rates, and unemployment rates. These findings will help with understanding the types of workforce and training partnerships that are needed.
- Partner with local workforce and training partners who can customize job training and also, identify adult education (GED), digital access and literacy training programs. Experience in local communities is important. Look for skills gaps in targeted roles and training partners in non-profits, vocational schools or community colleges. Offer internships, training programs or other work arrangements to satisfy experience requirements related to certifications or licensing.
- Consider partnering with opportunity youth programs like YearUp.
- Formalize a hiring strategy
- Commit to paying a living wage.
- Collect data and report