Recruiting has become an accepted pathways to integrate corporate diversity. PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services network, has taken note. The firm has announced its aspirations to hire 10,000 Black and Latinx college students by 2026.
The initiative aims to provide students with high-demand digital readiness; training and up-skilling; and mentorship opportunities as they enter the workforce. According to PwC, through this initiative, the firm is striving to attain 35% Black and Latinx representation among its experienced hires, entry-level hires and interns. This benchmark evokes a representative workforce that mirrors the diversity in higher education and ultimately reflects meaningful representation and inclusion in corporate America.
PwC is further committing $125 million to digitally up-skill and prepare the next class of diverse professionals. While training is powerful alone, when combined with mentoring, it can dramatically improve outcomes. PwC has expressed willingness to offer diverse students access to such training platforms to help navigate the job search, prepare for interviews, and instill the job-readiness needed to showcase their skills, story and contributions to potential employers.
“Recruiters need to be in it for the long haul by identifying diverse talent earlier and help cultivate strong tech skills to prepare students to be competitive in today’s digital economy,” PwC’s US Talent Acquisition Leader, Rod Adams said. Adams has also encouraged the development of strong relationships between his firm and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), creating programs that ensure students from underserved communities land full-time jobs after graduation. “Partnerships are important to develop diverse pipelines” he shared.
What happens after diverse individuals are hired?
Diversity and inclusion goals are not limited to the point of onboarding — they extend far beyond hiring. In reality, companies must curate a culture that supports talent retention. This is done in incremental steps. PwC’s case study is intriguing: The firm launched its Student Loan Paydown program (SLP) in 2015. Since then, the firm has paid off over $40M in student debt for more than 16,000 PwC participants. The benefit pays $1,200 a year for up to six years to help associates pay down their student loans. MORE FOR YOUIntroducing The Forbes Fellowship: Building A Pipeline, Bridging The DivideHas Social Media Ruined The Idea Of Friendship?Three Pioneering Business Leaders Share How They Leveled Up In The Face Of Adversity
But is it working? It seems so. Among many others, a 25-year-old Black female employee at PwC is currently taking advantage of the program. The SLP initiative has helped manage her nearly five-figure loan from a master’s degree at the University of Dublin. Her enrollment in the program allots her $100 dollars each month for up to six years to help pay student loans. PwC reports positive outcomes overall, citing that this program has reduced participants’ loan principal and interest obligations by as much as $10,000 and shortened their payoff period by up to three years.
Hire, Retain — And Now Promote:
First, a company must hire diverse talent. Then it must create an environment conducive to retention. What next? Talent promotion. Sammy Miller is a Partner at PwC. But his a story of breakthrough importance: he is the first Black male to make Partner in PwC’s Houston office. And he is committed to being the Black mentor he never had.
“There were very few Black leaders for me to model after when I started my career 20 years ago,” he said. Discussing his experiences rising through the corporate ranks, Miller attributes mentorship to his success. He is paying it forward: he mentors students at Texas A&M University, where (in pre-pandemic times) mentoring sessions predominantly took place at the university’s football tailgates, he shared.
This is poetic — because along the sidelines of football games, the professional coaching promised by Miller’s mentorship can be game-changing for young talent. Even more effective is sponsorship, which provides young employees the direction of senior leaders who play the role of their advocates at critical times of career management. Advocacy, when coming through leadership voices at a company, can be powerful. It provides the leverage of credibility that is key for advancement.
Miller’s success story of becoming the first Black male Partner in PwC’s Houston office is aspirational. Still, it begets the question: with a city that boasts 22.5% of its population as African-American, why has it taken so long to pioneer corresponding representation among corporate ranks?
The answer is hardly straightforward but it is embedded in the systemic inequities cemented across corporate America. An easy fix? None. But there is a sustainable remedy: implementing action and accountability as indispensable elements in any diversity and inclusion strategy.
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