As it did in the workplace worldwide, the assassination of George Floyd – just a few miles from his office in Minneapolis – led to a deeper introspection on diversity and fairness in the solution advertising agency.
The company was more than 80 percent white and was part of an industry where black and Hispanic employees were significantly under-represented in proportion to the population.
“It’s clearly pushing the whole industry to reflect, ‘Are we doing enough?’ Andrew Patz, the firm’s partner and director of business development, said. “And the answer really wasn’t.”
To respond, the solution looked to Baltimore, 1,100 miles away. There it found a historic Black University or HBCU – Morgan State University – that wanted to create an entry-level course to introduce its students to a career in advertising.
“Advertising doesn’t diversify candidates on the radar when it really counts, when they try to find a career to engage with,” Patz said. So he and his colleagues asked: “Where is the high concentration of different students? And that’s what brought us to HBCU. “
This is not the only solution that has come to this conclusion. So there are some of the largest employers in the country who are coming down to HBCU to recruit staff to meet their diversity commitments or to expand existing collaboration – often underwriting courses and programs and the technology needed to provide them.
These employers include Google, IBM, Northrop Grumman, Novartis, NBCUniversal, the airlines United, Delta and Southwest, and even the NFL, which last month teamed up with four historic Black Medical Schools to increase the number of black team physicians and medical professionals.
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“In many HBCUs, phones are ringing off the hook,” said David Marshall, a professor and chairman of Morgan State’s Department of Strategic Communications. “Given that these institutions are producing the highest marks in terms of black and brown students in some professions, it is a normal development for students to come where they are.”
Related According to the National Science Foundation, one in 11 black college students enrolled in 101 HBCUs across the country, producing more than a quarter of black graduates with degrees in mathematics, biology and physics, and 50 percent black lawyers, 40 percent in Thurgood Marshall College. Black engineer and 12.5 percent black CEO.
“People who have joined HBCU know the value,” said Sheen Boyce, historically a graduate of Black Spellman College and senior manager of the Hubspot’s Education Partner program, a software developer and marketing team that teamed up with HBCU to find interns. “It simply came to our notice then. But it does provide additional legitimacy. “
No one keeps track of how many companies are teaming up with HBCU to find staff. But in the last two years, many such affiliations have been announced. “There has been a significant improvement,” said Marshall at Morgan State. “It’s gotten deeper over the last few years,” said Lydia Logan, vice president of global education and workforce development and IBM’s corporate social responsibility. Yenneh Ketema, lead at Northrop Grumman’s University Relationship Diversity Program, added: “From what we’ve heard from our campus acquaintances, yes, there are many more companies coming up.”
This broad pipeline for jobs with top employers could attract more students to HBCU, whose enrollment dropped by 20 percent overall in the 10 years ending 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Education – although nearly one-third saw a return to school response, mainly to racist incidents in white institutions. , Reports the Rutgers Center of Minority Service Providers.
“Companies are really willing to invest, it benefits students. It’s great for parents. It’s great for universities,” Boyce said.
For HBCU students who are low-income or the first in their family to go to college, close relationships with corporate employers and mentors can also help offset the benefits that can be enjoyed by wealthy competitors who can network their job paths.
As a wealthy white kid, Parker’s founder and CEO, Jeffrey Moss, said: “As a rich white kid, I may not only have a knack for getting in the door, but working in a bank is not just about being a tailor.” Dewey, which helps employers and colleges arrange short-term internships. “Or maybe my mom or dad works [the management consulting firm] At McKinsey, I can get a job there.
“What’s exciting about seeing HBCUs come out right now is the opportunity to build real relationships,” Moss said.
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This is because many employers are sometimes investing more than just visiting campus recruiters. They are showering HBCUs with technology and other support, mentors and money to help develop talent.
“The old model is, you bring a fancy table to the career fair and you give brochures,” Marshall said. “The second level is that there have always been occasional internships. Change is now looking for a more meaningful relationship. ”
IBM announced in May that it would underwrite new cyber security centers at six HBCUs: Morgan State, Xavier, North Carolina A&T State, South Carolina State, Clark Atlanta and the Southern University System of Louisiana.
HBCUs produce more than a quarter of black graduates with degrees in mathematics, biology and physics and 50 percent black lawyers, 40 percent black engineers and 12.5 percent black CEOs.
In addition to providing academic content, the company will provide experts to conduct guest lectures and even simulated hacking events.
“This is our next big thing with HBCUs,” Logan told IBM, which already has a program to recruit students from historically black schools.
“We had a long commitment to diversity. This is new for other companies. For everyone, it’s gotten deeper over the last few years, ”Logan said.
For these companies there is now not only a social obligation, but also an economic one: a huge demand for employees – not only cyber security, but also education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“We have a talent shortage,” Logan said. And “If you are looking for diverse talents in STEM, hiring from HBCUs is naturally appropriate.”
Consumers and employees are also pushing employers to keep their promises that they will diversify their employees.
“I don’t think the burden is on HBCU. I think the burden is on the corporation that suddenly wakes up and finds Jesus. ”
David Marshall, Professor and Chair, Department of Strategic Communications, Morgan State University
“Especially companies that are consumer brands, their customers are saying they want something to happen,” Marshall said.
In some industries, such expectations can have an immediate and real impact on the bottom line. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say their perception of a brand’s diversity is influenced by their advertising whether they will sponsor it, for example, according to a survey by marketing analytics firm Marketing Charts. More than half of black respondents said they would not do business with a company that did not represent black people in its advertising.
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“Whether it’s about race or religion or gender, the point of view in advertising is everything,” said Sullivan Poutz, whose clients include True Value, American Standard and Rust-William. Having a diversified workforce can expand a company’s perspective, he said. “We need to understand how people think. It’s all about getting the target audience shoes. “
Google’s Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness program provides digital education and funding to help black technology workers expand the pipeline, representing only 4.4 percent of Google employees in the United States, although 13.4 percent of the U.S. population is black. He has faced criticism since last year One of its own former divers employers That it has not previously taken seriously the work of black engineers from HBCUs – the company’s CEO has met with five HBCU presidents. Google has now added a new program called Pathways to Tech to provide technology resources to those universities.
“We had a long commitment to diversity. This is new for other companies. For everyone, it has gotten deeper in the last few years. ”
Lydia Logan, Vice President, Global Education and Workforce Development and Corporate Social Responsibility, IBM
United Airlines has historically worked closely with Black Delaware State University to recruit new airline pilots, of whom less than 4 percent are black and another 14,500 whose labor statistics bureau says will be needed at least until the end of this decade. , Elizabeth City State University of North Carolina and Hampton University of Virginia. Delta has formed a partnership with Hampton and with Texas Southern University in Southwest Houston.
The NFL announced last month that it would offer a month-long clinical rotation for students at historically Black Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Meheri Medical College and Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science as a way to diversify the NFL. Physicians, of whom only 5 percent are black.
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Katema of Northrop Grumman said, “It’s really important for us to have a pipeline from HBCU that has a partnership with HBCU, and this fall will be the fourth annual” HBCU Invitational, “during which it invites students for job interviews. Participate in workshops and other activities.
It’s important that employers pay more for this partnership than lip service, said Chris Carlson, Katemar’s colleague and director of university recruitment Northrop.
“One thing we all know about working with HBCU is that students can really tell if an organization is there to check a box – only to be shown at a career fair to collect resumes – or if the company is with a school. Carlson says.
Marshall agrees that it is the responsibility of employers to meet their diversity goals.
“It’s not a story about HBCU,” he said. “It’s about companies and corporations that are under increasing pressure from their stakeholders, their shareholders, their customers. You can’t sit on the sidelines anymore. You have to do something. ‘ “
“I don’t think the burden is on HBCU. I think the burden is on the corporation that suddenly wakes up and finds Jesus. “
Meanwhile, HBCUs are undoubtedly enjoying a wave of employer interest.
IBM’s Logan said: “It’s great for HBCU to get this attention. “For a long time I think they were ignored and now they are getting the recognition they always deserved.”
Historically produced by this story about black colleges and universities Hatchinger report, A non-profit, independent news organization focusing on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for us Higher Education Newsletter.