Learn about Bank of America’s approach to being an Opportunity Employer.
I spoke last month at Work Rebooted, a conference examining the future of work, with our Grads of Life employer partner Jennifer Andrews from Bank of America. We discussed the Bank’s Pathways program and shared learnings on how as a leading Opportunity Employer they are evolving the organization’s talent practices. Below is a snapshot of our conversation, and I will be sharing a more in depth interview with Jenn next month.
“So much of our work at Grads of Life is focused on helping employers to adapt their talent practices so they get better at finding, hiring and retaining traditionally overlooked talent – the very people that companies need to get a diverse perspective”
Huge changes are underway in the workplace and, depending on the choices employers make, these changes will either bring greater access to economic opportunity and mobility for traditionally overlooked talent, or further marginalize the people who are struggling today.
This was the context for the Work Rebooted conference in January, where I shared the stage with Grads of Life employer partner Jennifer Andrews, Senior Vice President, Bank of America, to discuss their Pathways Initiative, a commitment to hire 10,000 people from low and moderate income communities in their key markets. The Bank created Pathways to build a new pipeline of diverse talent as well as to support economic mobility in the communities where they operate. Jenn shared that the initiative is ahead of schedule on achieving two key goals: hiring 8,000 people from low and moderate income communities; and having had 1,000 referrals from community based organization (CBO) partners.
Jenn also shared these learnings:
Through Pathways, Bank of America is creating new and innovative approaches to building an inclusive workforce to support their future success.
Preparing for the Future
Our discussion followed a panel moderated by Shannon Lucas, Co-Founder at Catalyst Constellations, discussing the importance of both educators and employers evolving their training and talent practices, with a number of great panelists including Sean T. Sullivan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). The session, entitled Preparing for Workforce 2030, focused on the need for educators, workforce trainers and employers each to build capacity to reskill and upskill talent, particularly digital literacy and professional skills such as communication, teamwork and critical thinking.
Using AI to Audit AI
Kicking off the conference, Benjamin Pring, Co-Founder and Director of Cognizant’s Workforce of the Future, made with the bold statement that “AI is the biggest thing since fire”, which certainly got my attention! While there is a lot I don’t yet understand about AI and automation, I was heartened to hear about work on an ‘algorithm bias auditor’, designed to bring greater transparency and the ability to audit the algorithms which will increasingly drive important decisions, such as who gets an interview and who gets a job. It will be critical for the people leading the charge on AI and automation to be laser-focused on ensuring these innovations recognize and address bias, so more equitable and effective outcomes can be achieved.
Diversity and the Future of Work
Giselle Mota, Principal, Future of Work, at ADP, is one of these innovators. She gave a high energy presentation about the work she is leading to help ADP, a 70-year-old mainstream company, reinvent itself for the future. One of the things I liked most was her reflection on the importance of having people with diverse life experiences and diverse points-of-view leading change inside an organization. This insight resonated strongly for me because so much of our work at Grads of Life is focused on helping employers to adapt their talent practices so they get better at finding, hiring and retaining traditionally overlooked talent – the very people that companies need to get a diverse perspective.
Leading the Charge
I also had the pleasure of catching up with another Grads of Life employer partner, Audrey Williams Lee, SVP Corporate Human Resources and Global Philanthropy at Hyatt Hotels, who had a keynote on Prioritizing Leadership at Hyatt. Audrey spoke about the transformative work underway to build strong leadership across her organization. We have seen the impact of this leadership in our work with Hyatt over the past several years, as Grads of Life has served as a subject-matter expert for Hyatt’s RiseHY youth employment initiative, a recruiting and hiring strategy that includes partnering with community-based organizations. It also provides ongoing coaching and training to help young adults hone the skills they need to stay and grow in a career at Hyatt. Together, we created a series of playbooks to help Hyatt’s staff implement the strategy. As of October last year, 120 participating Hyatt Hotels have hired 1,300 Opportunity Youth.
I would like to thank Jennifer for presenting with me at Work Rebooted, and the conference organizers for gathering together such stimulating speakers. There is a lot to be done and to think about as workplaces adapt to societal and economic changes, but this is clearly matched by a significant amount of innovation and passion to get it right.
This blog post originally appeared on Grads of Life BrandVoice on Forbes here.