EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

America’s got hidden talent: Bringing purpose to your workforce strategy

by Shannon Houde

These three panelists’ companies are investing in the future and diversity of their talent base by recruiting and developing opportunity youth and ex-convicts. As Head of FSG’s Talent Rewire program, moderator Kimberly Shin kicked off the session with some shocking statistics:

  • 1 in 7 youth are opportunity youth
  • 1 in 3 American adults have a criminal record
  • 2030 is the year that the majority of young workers under 30 will be people of color
  • We are in the tightest labor market in the last 50 years

Gap Foundation is committed to providing opportunity youth their first jobs with a goal of hiring 10K youth through “This Way Ahead” program by 2020. Manager Allie Barwise mentioned that getting and then keeping that first job is really important. She sees four ingredients to Gap Foundation’s secret sauce of expanding the diversity of their workforce at an early-career stage:

  1. Work with a community partners in 70 cities around the world
  2. Employees volunteer with that community partner
  3. Hire for potential
  4. Offer post-hire support for youth

Barwise said Old Navy is already getting 130 percent ROI on the work it is doing with this program.

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Patagonia is running an internship program to attract opportunity youth to work at its retail stores. Carly Huey, HR Manager for Retail and Corporate Employees, said she found that existing retail store staff, who go through a rigorous inclusion training program in order to serve as mentors, got as much out of mentoring the youth as the interns did.

“Inclusion training is critical to everyone on the team, and creates a commitment and energy in everyone.” — Carly Huey, Patagonia

Meanwhile, Dave’s Killer Bread’s Second Chance Employment program hires those who have a criminal background that are ready to change their lives for the better. Executive Director Genevieve Martin shared that Dave’s Killer Bread is #1 sliced organic bread in the US and Canada. Consumers are fans and they care; the Second Change program and cause has allowed the company to attract and maintain customers. Dave’s believes that we should hire for skills — whoever can do the job — not excluding those with a troubled past. 40 percent of Dave’s workforce has a criminal record, but the data show that people with convictions perform at the same level as counterparts, their tenure is longer, and they promote at a higher pace than others.

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