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    How Cleo Fosters Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) in the Workplace

    In June, Cleo sponsored Hired’s Breaking Through Bias event to help jobseekers understand the state of DEI and advance their careers despite systemic bias in hiring. Today, Cleo joins us to share how and why they are actively working to embed DEIB in their organization.  

    What tech team roles are you actively hiring for, and what differentiates a good candidate from a great one? 

    We’re actively hiring across most areas at the moment. We have open roles in Data Science, Engineering, Product Management, Design, Marketing, and People.

    You can check out our open roles here: 

    In terms of what we look for in candidates, we look for people who align with our values:

    Make it Happen: we look for people who are willing to take risks. We want to see how you’ve used your initiative to solve problems.

    Learn at Speed: we look for people who don’t mind failing. We always use data, research, and A/B tests to make decisions that impact our users. Show us how you’ve done this in previous roles!

    Bring Good Vibes: we want people to bring their whole, wonderful selves to work. We’ve built an inclusive and respectful environment where we help each other, every day. We’d love to hear examples of how you’ve done so. 

    Preparation is often the key differentiator between good and great candidates. 

    We like to see that candidates have taken an interest in Cleo. Great candidates clearly demonstrate that they’ve done their research by asking interesting and probing questions across a variety of topics (the role itself, the company product/mission, etc.).

    What does DEIB mean to Cleo?

    We’re solving problems for millions of different people. We can only do that with different opinions around the table. Building a diverse and inclusive workplace is at the top of our agenda for this reason. 

    We want everyone to feel like they belong at Cleo. How do we measure this? Well, we ask. 

    When we last asked our employees, 89.5% of our employees agreed that they feel they belong at Cleo. We think that’s pretty good, but we obviously want that number to be at 100%.

    How do you foster an open, communicative environment for your employees, particularly about DEIB?

    We have an opt-in DEIB working group, who set aside 10% of their time to work on initiatives that will make Cleo a more diverse and inclusive space. This group set OKRs just like a squad would, to make sure that DEIB is a priority, not a side-of-desk activity. 

    The group focuses on topics like employee engagement, analysis of DEIB data, hiring and onboarding practices, and awareness activities. 

    We offered diversity and inclusion training from an external expert, to all employees on an opt-in basis. The sessions covered unconscious bias, allyship, and financial inequality in the US, the last of which is particularly relevant to our mission. 

    We encourage an open and transparent culture, where anyone can speak up at any time, whether that be IRL, over Zoom, or via Slack.

    What initiatives and goals does the company have around DEIB, and how do you measure their success?

    For the past couple of years, we’ve been working hard to improve the gender split within our technical teams. We’re proud to say that overall, 50.6% of our employees are women. However, we know that we have a way to go in evening out our gender split in tech, where 33.8% of our people identify as female or non-binary. 

    We are making steps towards improving this. In 2022, over 40% of our tech & data hires identified as female or non-binary. We’re aiming to maintain this high bar as we scale, and we’re happy to say that it’s going well. This quarter, 42% of our current engineering hires identify as female or non-binary.

    How does your company ensure diversity and inclusion in the hiring process? 

    Together, we’re aiming to create a more inclusive and impactful team that reflects the diverse society we’re aiming to help with our products.

    By embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our recruitment efforts, we aim to foster an environment where everyone at Cleo can contribute their unique perspectives, collaborate effectively, and push the boundaries of innovation. 

    How do we do this? 

    We include a DEIB statement at the top of every job advert. It belongs at the top, it shouldn’t be hidden at the bottom of the page. Oh, and we put our job adverts through gender-decoders too, to make sure the language is appealing to everyone. 

    Every interviewer at Cleo goes through two sets of interview training. The first session focuses on expected behaviours and standards, covering unconscious bias and best practices for inclusion and candidate experience. The second session is discipline-specific interview training, as each discipline’s interview process looks slightly different and is tailored to the needs of the team.

    At the interview stage, we aim to provide diverse interview panels to allow all interviewees to feel comfortable, and to have a level playing field. 

    We always ask every candidate the same list of questions, to ensure that our interview process is fair for everyone, with standardised scoring rubrics used to ensure objectivity. We never ask questions irrelevant to the role someone’s applied for. Sure, your hobbies might be interesting, but they don’t prove whether you’re great at your role! 

    Related: Want to Ace Behavioral Interviews? A Guide to Prep Jobseekers

    How does your company’s commitment to DEIB extend beyond the internal organization and into the community? 

    We partner with multiple organizations and meetup groups that aim to increase access to tech. This year, we’re proud to be sponsoring RailsGirls London for the third year in a row. Their two-day event sees 200 people learn to code, for free, mentored by coaches from partner companies.

    We’ve also partnered with The Early Careers Foundation, to provide mentors for 16-17 year olds from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. We hope that partnerships like this will increase the visibility of the range of careers available in tech companies. 

    Cleo is an AI money assistant on a mission to fight for the world’s financial health. Founded in 2016, Cleo has 51-200 employees and is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. 

    Tech stack

    Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Rails, React, SCSS, Postgres, Redis, Heroku, React Native, JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, SQL More

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    How Smartsheet Fosters Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) in the Workplace

    In June, Smartsheet sponsored Hired’s Breaking Through Bias event to help jobseekers understand the state of DEI and advance their careers despite systemic bias in hiring. Today, Smartsheet joins us to share how and why they are actively working to embed DEIB in their organization.  

    1. What tech team roles are you actively hiring for, and what differentiates a good candidate from a great one? 

    Currently, we’re looking for a Senior Product Designer, Senior Machine Learning Engineers, a Software Engineer II, a Security Engineer, and both a Senior Manager and Manager of Engineering. 

    The candidates who really stand out from a recruiting perspective are those who have taken the time to research our company and the job description before the call. When a candidate tells us they are really excited about a specific aspect of our company and the position that relates to their experience, it helps us understand where their interests lie and whether that’s a good match for the role.  

    Related: Want to Ace Behavioral Interviews? A Guide to Prep Jobseekers

    When we present their resume to the hiring manager, we now have a case built for why they could potentially be an excellent team member at Smartsheet and on the team. 

    2. What are your company’s values, and how do these show up day-to-day?

    Our mission is to empower anyone to drive meaningful change for themselves, their businesses, and the world. To accomplish this mission, we are collectively committed to our strongly held values to change the way that work gets done. These values are: 

    Seizing opportunity

    Winning with integrity

    Prioritizing “we” before “me”

    Pursuing progress

    They are not just ideas, but driving forces behind our actions. 

    Our commitment to these values can be seen in various aspects of our daily operations:

    Interview processes and performance management guidelines

    Pursuit of AI resources and solutions

    Transparency during All Team Meetings

    Customer-focused annual conference, ENGAGE

    As individuals and as a company, we hold ourselves accountable to these values, they define our culture and guide us toward achieving our mission. With these values, known to employees as “The Smartsheet Way,” we have set a course to transform how work is approached and achieved.

    3. DEIB recognizes that feelings of belonging in the workplace improve an employee’s happiness and security at work, and is an essential part of a DEI strategy. What does DEIB mean to Smartsheet?

    At Smartsheet, we believe our business is only successful if we’re helping create a world where anyone can thrive. One key way to drive that meaningful change is through diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Pursuing social progress anchors our business in a greater purpose and holds us accountable to action. 

    To do that, our organization’s goal is to fully incorporate different perspectives and ideas brought by people from diverse identities. From employee engagement to product innovation, the data is clear: companies with more diversity perform better. In order to make actual progress, teams need an approach that incorporates DEI more deeply into their organizational structure, business model, and culture. 

    Our focus on DEI enables us to attract, develop, and retain top talent from all walks of life, and to build a robust company culture that inspires all kinds of people to do their best work. We need diverse ideas and perspectives to solve our most challenging problems and succeed in a complex world.

    4. How do you foster an open, communicative environment for your employees, particularly about DEIB? 

    We believe in rooting our organizational goals in a culture of DEI. This means it is even more important that all employees understand our DEI objectives, how to participate in and support them, and that our managers enable those opportunities and actively encourage that dialogue. 

    Here are a few examples:

    We have invested in a robust suite of DEI content that is being deployed across our leadership teams and is open to any Smartsheet employee. Improving our acumen in DEI as a team is ongiong and allows us to build the muscle we need to create an inclusive culture.

    We have launched several employee-led DEI committees with programmatic support from our centralized DEI team, including our Global DEI Committee, comprised of employees across a number of our regions.

    We developed and launched 7 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in partnership with our People & Culture team to support employees on a variety of DEI topics and inform our employee engagement approach and strategic priorities.

    5. What initiatives and goals does the company have around DEIB, and how do you measure their success?

    A percentage of our annual bonus compensation for our senior leaders ties to our DEI hiring objectives. Those objectives support our overall yearly representation goals. We update that data quarterly and it is available to view at any time by any employee.

    We recently published our first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Impact Report. It outlines a number of key initiatives and achievements over the past year, with a look at our objectives over the coming years as well. 

    6. How does your company ensure diversity and inclusion in the hiring process? 

    There are a lot of different ways we work to ensure diversity and inclusion in our hiring process. We post our job descriptions to a variety of job boards including Out in Tech, Latinas in Tech, SquadJobs, and on Handshake to connect with HBCUs. We also work with many of these organizations by participating in their hosted events to directly connect with candidates. 

    At Smartsheet, we conduct all of our recruiter screens over a phone call – not a video call. This helps eliminate unconscious biases, and we offer diverse interview loops. We also take the time to look for candidates from underrepresented groups and communities. We do so through proactive sourcing and by working with companies like Hired and Blavity, which have tools in place to help recruiters diversify their pipelines.

    7. How does your company’s commitment to DEIB extend beyond the internal organization and into the community? 

    At Smartsheet, we believe our values only matter when we put them into action. Guided by our DEI Mission and the voices of our employees, we support our communities by corporate donations to employee-recommended organizations, enabling our employees to give back through volunteerism and giving our product and platform to nonprofit organizations doing meaningful work. To learn more about our CSR commitments, check out our CSR Impact Report. 

    About Smartsheet

    Smartsheet is an enterprise work management platform seeking to empower everyone everywhere to change the way the world works. Founded in 2005, Smartsheet has 1,501-5,000  employees and is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. 

    Tech stack

    Java, JavaScript, AWS, React, Node.JS, TypeScript, Microservices, Kotlin More

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    Learn How Northwestern Mutual is Championing Diversity in the Finance Industry

    When you’re deciding where to start your career, you may want to work for a company that doesn’t just believe in diversity and inclusion (D&I) but supports it as well.

    Northwestern Mutual believes in having a diverse workforce that benefits the company, its employees, and local communities.

    We spoke to employees at Northwestern Mutual to learn about how the company has built strong diversity initiatives, and what this means for employees, clients, and communities alike, including how Northwestern Mutual intends to keep the needle moving.

    Diversity Enables the Company to Reach More Clients

    According to Northwestern Mutual, “the best client service and financial industry leadership starts with creating a diverse team and an inspiring, inclusive workplace where everyone can be, and do, their best every day.” A diverse workforce is what will help them deliver the financial solutions their clients need.

    Having diverse advisors on your team enables the company to increase its reach, influence, and appeal to a wider range of customers.

    While it could be comforting talking to someone who has a similar background to you, representation matters. It can lead to impactful business relationships and work environments.

    Ability to Bring Your True Authentic Self to Work

    Everybody still wants to bring their authentic selves to work. This means no matter what race, ethnicity, sexual preference, or demographic you represent you feel confident in showing your colleagues, boss or manager, and the customers you work with who you truly are.

    Shannon Redmon, Director of Recruiting at Northwestern Mutual, discussed why being accepted and supported at work is important to him.

    Through learning sessions and coaching programs about allyship and inclusive culture, the D&I council, and employee resource groups, Northwestern Mutual fosters a place where Shannon can be his true self. As a result, he feels proud of the work he is doing and the company it is for.

    Supporting Diversity in the Community

    There is no end to the lengths Northwestern Mutual will go to ensure they are championing diversity and creating a company where employees can truly be themselves and reach their goals.

    In fact, Northwestern Mutual has made several monetary contributions to communities and entities outside of their organization emphasizing their desire to create a truly diverse world. Here are just a few of their charitable acts:

    $26M invested in under-served neighborhoods

    $20M invested in startup companies founded by women 

    $6M in grants for nonprofits nationwide

    $1.6M to strengthen education and career opportunities

    Why Northwestern Mutual?

    Whether it’s their initiatives, the resources they provide, or the direct contributions they make, Northwestern Mutual is a place fostering diverse minds while encouraging representation.

    There are people just like you who need help planning and reaching their financial goals, will you be the one to get them there? Head over to Northwestern Mutual’s company profile to learn more about the company and for information on open roles!

    Northwestern Mutual Financial Representatives are Independent Contractors whose income is based solely on production.

    Not all Northwestern Mutual representatives are advisors. Only those representatives with the titles “Financial Advisor” or “Wealth Management Advisor” are credentialed as NMWMC representatives to provide advisory services.

    Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries in Milwaukee, WI. More

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    Awareness to Action: How to Build a Fair and Inclusive Hiring Process (VIDEO)

    How do you eliminate bias from the recruitment process? Watch this on-demand webinar to hear experts discuss key findings and data from Hired’s 2023 State of Wage Inequality in the Tech Industry report. Get the approaches used by leading companies to overcome biases, creating a fair and inclusive hiring process.
    Hear from:

    SVP People Strategy, Hired, Sam Friedman
    Director of Talent Acquisition, Cedar, Mike Aldous
    Director of People Enablement, Remote, Amanda Day
    Lead Talent Acquisition, GTM, International, Sonatype, Heidi King-Underwood
    Founder & CEO, Hustle Crew, Abadesi Osunsade

    Read an excerpt of the conversation here and scroll down to access the full webinar. 
    What are commercial benefits to employers adapting to progressive times wanting all employees of all backgrounds to thrive? What do those policies look like?
    Amanda Day
    It’s not surprising to any of us here that diversity can translate into better performance and commercial benefits. I think it includes things from better financial performance, higher productivity of your teams, better employee retention, and higher engagement. There are so many areas this touches on and I think it’s talked about a lot but it can’t go without saying how important that is and how impactful it can be on business success. 
    We also tend to see younger generations not as keen to work for a company not promoting interest and commitment to diversity. That’s really important to consider when you’re looking at attracting and retaining top talent. 
    As for policies, there are so many to approach. It’s really about building a culture in which everyone feels welcome and included. They feel encouraged to speak and you ensure there’s psychological safety. 
    Diversity goes hand in hand with inclusivity. That doesn’t just mean having a diverse group of people. Inclusivity is something else you have to continuously work on and work toward. Make sure people know their voices can are heard and they have a place for sharing. 
    Increased transparency is always really important. It could be having conversations in public channels and public documentation instead of doing a DM or a private email. It can help ensure everyone gets an equal chance to contribute.
    At Remote, we try to make sure even though we’re across different time zones, everyone is always able to contribute and share their perspectives and insights. That’s how we’re going to achieve our best outcomes and be the best that we can be. 
    Mike Aldous
    When I think about the people policies benefitting both the company and the employee, the first that comes to mind is obviously the opportunity or the ability to hire remotely. The industry Cedar is in, which is healthcare, impacts everyone. Our goal is to engage with fifty percent of patients in the US in the next five years, and fifty percent of all patients is fifty percent of everyone in the United States. That’s a really diverse population.
    Cedar has been fortunate to have headquarters in New York City and we have the opportunity to hire people remotely across the US. This allowed us to connect with more underrepresented people for these various opportunities. 
    Second, as the voice of healthcare providers, it’s our job to make patients feel welcomed and confident through their healthcare journey. Every patient is different and has a unique background. To design a product that works for everyone, you need to hire a diverse workforce.
    If we don’t build for the patient’s needs, we risk them seeking care elsewhere or worse avoiding healthcare entirely. 
    We encourage people to block time in their day for childcare and for carpools. Our parental leave policy is sixteen weeks for all parents. We have a lactation support policy to ensure new parents can meet their responsibilities. Those are a few things Cedar’s thinking about. 
    Sam Friedman
    From a diversity perspective, we’ve seen transparency in our every day helps. So, what does your calendar look like? Even as the head of HR, I try to keep my calendar open and have blocks for people to see.
    I do go pick up my son and I am currently nursing my child. I have those blocks on my calendar. If it’s coming from the executive team, hopefully, it means other individuals in the company feel empowered to have that on their calendar too. 
    One thing we are working toward over the last twelve months and have seen a large shift in is being transparent with our salary bands. If we are hiring you to do a job, regardless of where you are or what experience you bring, we want to make sure we’re paying you appropriately. Introducing those salary bands has been a critical policy.
    Watch the full collaborative panel discussion to discover: 

    How to create job descriptions and interviews to invite a diverse range of candidates
    Types of bias affecting hiring decisions
    Strategies for building a more inclusive definition of cultural fit
    How to use technology to reduce bias in the recruitment process More

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    Empower Your Career: Understanding Salary Inequality in Tech (2023 Research)

    A guide to Hired’s 2023 Wage Inequality Report for tech workers and jobseekers! Download the eBook

    There’s no question this job market is wildly different than a year ago. It’s more competitive and even intimidating. If you’re currently looking, finding a job is your number one priority, but equally important is an employer embracing qualities such as diversity, equity in opportunity and fair pay, as well as an inclusive workplace.

    We’ve curated the most valuable insights from Hired’s 2023 State of Wage Inequality report, and they’re all yours within the pages of this eBook. Consider it your ultimate resource for navigating the hiring market and guiding your search for a job where your contributions are appreciated and your voice is heard. Use this as a resource to understand the hiring market and guide your search for a job where you feel appreciated and empowered.

    Inside this eBook for tech talent you’ll discover:

    Findings on wage inequality and DEI in today’s job market

    Strategies to negotiate fair compensation 

    Real-life success stories from individuals who championed DEI

    Practical tips for identifying inclusive workplaces

    Actionable steps to promote positive change within organizations

    Impact of Salary Transparency legislation

    Are you ready to take control of your career, embrace diversity, and secure fair pay? Don’t miss out on this invaluable resource – download our eBook now and unlock the doors to a brighter future!Remember, the job market may have changed, but your potential for success remains limitless. Together, let’s create a world where diversity is celebrated, equity is embraced, and inclusion is the norm.

    Extra Resources

    Be sure to check out other resources from Hired, including:

    Virtual Event for Candidates June 27th, 2023

    Breaking Through Bias: How to Overcome Discrimination & Get the Tech Job You Want

    Blogs, Videos on Demand, & Guides

    Competitive Tech Job Offers? 6 Ways to Compare and Find the Right Fit

    Invest in Your Success: The Ultimate Salary Negotiation Workshop (Video on Demand)

    Your Guide to Salary Negotiation More

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    How to Use Coding Challenge Events to Build Tech Talent Pipeline

    About this eBook

    Today’s recruiting and hiring teams face multiple challenges, from low brand recognition to the capacity to efficiently assess an influx of candidates. Use this eBook to discover how events, such as coding challenges, can help you build your pipeline, expand into new markets, progress on DEI goals, and free up your teams to focus on their biggest priorities.

    What You’ll Learn

    Common challenges for employers that events help solve

    How to promote and manage events

    Examples of virtual candidate events and coding challenges to reach goals More

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    Talent Acquisition Week Edition: Talk Talent to Me February ’23 Recap

    Catch up on the February 2023 episodes of Hired’s Talk Talent to Me podcast featuring recruiting and talent acquisition leadership who share strategies, techniques, and trends shaping the recruitment industry. In this special edition, we’re featuring 4 episodes recorded live at Talent Acquisition (TA) Week, a leading event educating talent acquisition pros!

    AI tools in recruiting and values-based versus skills-based with April Venables, VP of TA at Moderna 

    TA challenges in healthcare and implementing high-level strategies with Matt Rimer,  Director of TA at Trinity Health

    Leveraging online chat forums to recruit with Brian Fink, Talent Partner at McAfee

    Embedding DEI into TA practices with Tara Turk-Haynes, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Talent Management at Leaf Group

    The power of authenticity and human nature related to TA with Mike Cohen, Founder and Sourcer at Wayne Technologies 

    1. April Venables, VP of TA at Moderna 

    Historically, talent acquisition and recruiting have relied heavily on networking but how has the influence of technology, AI tools, and systems changed these roles? April discusses today’s recruiter and how the role and required skillset have changed over the course of her career. April also talks about the different AI tools she implements to help the recruiting process, values-based versus skills-based, and what makes for a bad (or good) hire.

    “The traditional TA model, or strategy, that has worked historically, and what has worked for us here at Moderna to grow so quickly in a short period of time, is not the same strategy that is going to make us successful, long-term.”

    Listen to the full episode.

    More on TA Week

    We recorded the episodes below in person at TA Week, which spotlights critical topics from recruiting, sourcing, and employer branding to talent data analytics and DEI.

    Each day highlighted a different talent attraction event: 

    Social Recruiting Strategies Conference 

    Employer Branding Strategies Conference

    Talent Sourcing Strategies Summit

    Attendees learned to leverage emerging recruiting practices with a look into the latest global recruiting trends, recruitment marketing, candidate engagement, tools, and technology. Thanks to expert best practices and panel discussions, they left with no shortage of insights. 

    Among other impressive exhibitors, Hired joined the floor to engage attendees with an inside look into its innovative talent acquisition and sourcing solution.

    Related: Hired helps Unite Us connect with & source high-quality tech talent

    2. Matt Rimer, Director of TA at Trinity Health

    Kicking off coverage from the floor of TA Week, Matt shares some of the biggest hiring challenges currently facing healthcare and why it’s an exciting time to be involved with healthcare talent acquisition. Matt discusses the strategies Trinity Health is implementing to attract more healthcare talent, particularly nurses. He also offers insight into the involvement of C-Suite in these initiatives and the launch of Trinity’s employee referral program (find out the percent of total hires that should come from referrals!). 

    “I think it’s a good opportunity for talent acquisition professionals: To not only put up the strategy but then show that they’ve got the delivery muscle to actually meet the objectives that they’re setting out to do.” 

    Listen to the full episode.

    3. Brian Fink, TA Partner at McAfee

    Brian discusses why conversations must be taken offline and delves into why he offers practice interviews and resume reviews. In addition to sharing how he “hacks Slack,” Brian shares a few tips and tricks. This includes how he recruits on Discord, why you should use your personal email address when joining those communities, how you can find them, and what mistakes to avoid. 

    He also mentions why professionals should not miss out on TA Week (be sure to attend next year!) and why he loves Hired.

    “I like to think of recruitment as tuning into the channel, WIIFM: what’s in it for me? When you tune into WIIFM, we’re able to have a genuine conversation not built around what we’re trying to serve and the interests that we’re trying to perpetuate but instead the mission that that candidate or that individual is trying to serve.”

    Listen to the full episode.

    4. Tara Turk-Haynes, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Talent Management at Leaf Group

    During her third appearance on TT2M, Tara shares how she embedded DEI into Leaf Group’s talent management strategy and why she’s more likely to recruit ‘career changers.’ She explains why the industry should pay more attention to how they market to emerging talent and how she recruited Leaf Group’s new Director of Recruiting Operations on a platform that might surprise you. 

    Tara concludes the chat with an overview of the current state of DEI and urges companies to better tailor their DEI targets according to their own needs, instead of setting them based on law and societal pressures. 

    “My mission, and my own personal goal, is to talk about how we [can] embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into our practices, and not making them this separate thing that we talk about alongside talent.”

    Listen to the full episode.

    5. Mike Cohen, Founder and Sourcer at Wayne Technologies

    Mike starts off by sharing why he loves TA Week and how it provides authenticity, vulnerability, and acceptance in the talent world. He goes on to explain what DEI hiring is, why it is so important, and how people in talent acquisition need to take the safety of their employees seriously. 

    Looking deeper at safety, Mike explains that it is more complex than fire drills. It is about using vulnerability to go beyond the surface level. Finally, hear Mike’s thoughts on why there is no right way to do recruiting and what it means to be human.

    “There is no right way to do recruiting. There are a ton of wrong ways, but you’re never going to ‘get it’.”

    Listen to the full episode.

    Want more insights into recruiting tips and trends?

    Tune into Hired’s podcast, Talk Talent to Me, to learn about the strategies, techniques, and trends shaping the recruitment industry—straight from top experts themselves. More

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    How Citi is Paving the Way for HBCU Grads and Black Professionals in Finance

    Ever since Maggie Lena Walker established and presided over the first bank to service Black organizations, Black Americans have been shaping the history of finance. 100 years later, people of color (POC) are still making contributions that leave everlasting impacts on the industry. 

    Although a lot of progress has been made for POC in the banking and finance space, they are still at a disadvantage. The facts of the matter are that POC are disproportionately underrepresented in finance and face a harder time breaking into the industry than others. 

    As a company that emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Citi identifies with these issues wholeheartedly. Citi also knows that if these trends continue, an entire legacy of future Maggie Walkers might cease to exist.  Even worse, the contributions and ideas that these POC would have contributed to the finance world would never see the light of day. This lack of input and improvement would slow down the finance world as we know it. 

     Citi has made sure to create a space where POC not only feel welcome but motivated to succeed as well, creating a virtuous cycle for individuals, Citi as an organization and the financial services industry more broadly. In order to create this space, Citi has rolled out a series of initiatives that are paving the way for POC in finance. The first of which has to do with their recruiting strategy. 

    HBCU Recruiting and Presence 

    To employ the brightest minds, first, you have to find them. That’s why Citi decided to set up an ambitious recruiting strategy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). And we’re not just talking about free koozies and stickers. Citi is showing up on campuses, sometimes even with school alumni, to share background on their diversity and inclusion efforts, educate students about opportunities and show they are a company that values the success of their diverse employees.   

    Here is what one Global Banking Analyst had to say about the impression Citi left when they visited Howard University during her time as an undergraduate. 

    By continuing to establish meaningful relationships with students at HBCUs, Citi is building a workforce that includes incredibly talented individuals from diverse backgrounds. 

    HBCU Alumni Network 

    By creating groups and communities that allow people from similar backgrounds to come together and share thoughts, companies can create new environments to help their employees thrive. That’s why Citi established the HBCU Alumni Network. As you might be able to infer, the HBCU Alumni Network is a group at Citi that allows alumni from different HBCUs to connect, network, and help one another grow. Which, for a lot of people, helped them succeed and learn in a lot of ways.  

    My involvement with the HBCU Alumni Network has taught me the importance of being proactive when you’re on a team. I was tasked to work alongside another team member to initiate contact with 19 schools. I hesitated on whether I should wait for him to reach out first since he has been employed at Citi longer than me, but I ended up having the courage to set up the first meeting. He expressed how impressed he was that I took charge right away and set up a strong foundation for the work we’ll be completing together. That experience taught me to never doubt myself or my capabilities, even if I may be the youngest on the team, and if there is an opportunity to showcase your skills or leadership, you always jump at it!  
     Global Consumer Banking Analyst 

    Through her involvement with the HBCU Alumni Network, she not only gained more experience and confidence in herself, but she also made a good impression on her colleague. All around wins. 

    Black Heritage Network 

    Like the HBCU Alumni Network, there is the Black Heritage Inclusion Network at Citi. Within this group, Black professionals can come together, share their thoughts, seek out mentors, and essentially just share space with people who look like them.  

    After you graduate, the number of groups and organizations you can join to socialize, grow yourself, and feel welcome gets cut in half. When these groups are no longer available, especially in the corporate world, some individuals face issues that diminish their productivity and most importantly, their self-worth. That’s why establishing inclusion networks is so advantageous and why Citi chose to do it themselves. 

    POC in Leadership Positions 

    One very direct way to help POC succeed in financial services is to connect and grow them in leadership and management positions. By doing so, you not only diversify the leadership on your team, but you also create mentors, role models, and individuals who people from similar backgrounds can identify with. As a result, students and job-seeking individuals become more inclined to apply for positions at the company. 

    As he said, it’s comforting to grow and be trained by people who are like you. When you can relate to these people, it makes the relationship better on all ends.  

    One Corporate Banking Analyst had a similar experience with her mentor during her time at Howard.  

    When I was a Freshman at Howard, my mentor, who was a Senior, had a full-time offer in Investment Banking at Citi and was the Citi Campus Ambassador. She recommended me for the Freshman Discovery Program, and I ended up getting in. At the time I was not super familiar with Citi or Wall Street as a whole, so I did not really know what to expect. However, when I arrived, I was completely enamored with the experience and completely threw myself into it. At the end of the program, I was sad to leave and knew this is where I belonged. 
    Corporate Banking Analyst

    If it weren’t for Citi putting her mentor into that Campus Ambassador position, it’s possible that she may have never ended up at Citi. By creating this position and ones like it, Citi now has talent pipelines that will draw in some of the brightest minds in finance for years to come. Pipelines that might just end up finding you one day. 

    What’s Next for Citi? 

    While these initiatives may seem bold, Citi has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Much like Citi’s Action for Racial Equity, a $1 billion+ commitment to help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility in the United States, the ideas Citi is putting forth will have a substantial impact on the industry and the world for years to come.  

    If this is an endeavor that you would like to be a part of and contribute to, check out the positions Citi is currently hiring for. Who knows, in just a few years it could be you leading the change.  More