How Chicago Tech Companies are Advancing Non-Traditional Talent

How Chicago Tech Companies are Advancing Non-Traditional Talent

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i.c.stars recently convened HR, talent acquisition, and technology leaders in an interactive forum about removing barriers for non-traditional talent in technology.

Participants from Cars.com, Enova, JLL, McCann Partners, Options Clearing Corporation, Placester and Relativity, among others, shared ideas and best practices from recruitment processes and strategy to defining diversity and inclusion at their organizations.

“The goal was to bring together local company leaders to discuss an issue vital to successful hiring in our tech community: increasing diversity within IT organizations and the impact of non-traditional hires to achieving this goal. Attendees were invited to share thought leadership, best practices, and lessons learned, as well as challenges faced (and overcome),” explained Megan McCann, CEO and Founder of McCann Partners who also serves on i.c.stars’ Board of Directors, as well as on its Workforce Development Committee, which was instrumental in planning the event.

During an icebreaker, participants talked about how, as individuals and through their organizations, they are working to create change. “If we can bring in different mindsets, we can start to change an organization, said Andre Buckles, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), whose industry has experienced significant technology-inspired change.

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Panelists from Accenture, Paylocity and Salesforce gave specific examples about internal advocacy for non-traditional talent, education requirements, and geography, in a discussion moderated by i.c.stars’ President and Co-founder Sandee Kastrul.

Rich Palumbo, Managing Director of Technology at Accenture, i.c.stars’ largest employer, shared how they are using internships to expose managers to non-traditional talent, and create space for managers to become their advocates. “Leadership is already bought in—the internships are a way to get the talent in the door,” explained Palumbo.

Salesforce Senior Managing Director of Customer Innovation Jim Tantaro, in response to the question about education and degree requirements, talked about his organization’s commitment to inclusion and equality, regardless of educational backgrounds. “People go where they feel valued but stay where they are welcomed, and we are committed to being change agents in welcoming people to the technology field and Salesforce,” said Tantaro. “We also have launched a learning platform called Salesforce Trailhead - an online guided learning path to help anyone gain the technical and business skills to find career opportunities at Salesforce, or in our ecosystem of partners.”

Paylocity’s Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition Laura Durfee discussed her organization’s journey. “The diversity conversation started at Paylocity by facilitating sessions where employees could share personal stories. It has resulted in partnerships with sources of diverse talent, such as i.c.stars,” said Durfee. She also shared that Paylocity intentionally places their offices outside of city centers as a way to source often overlooked talent.

Representatives from i.c.stars’ expansion cities also participated. They included Dohmen Constellations, a partner for i.c.stars Milwaukee, which will launch training in 2018, and entrepreneur and advocate Will Shields, part of the i.c.stars Kansas City coalition.

Speaking before the group, OCC’s Yemi Akisanya, Business Development Manager and i.c.stars’ Workforce Development Committee Member, summarized how i.c.stars’ mission to expand opportunity for underserved talent aligns with a growing business need. “There is talent in places you’ve never heard about—that are gems,” Yemi said, speaking of his youth in Nigeria and his involvement with i.c.stars. “I’m fortunate to work for an organization where our Executive Chairman and CEO has been successful in championing change which has enhanced the company’s culture, growth and productivity.”

To learn more about hiring from i.c.stars, contact hirestars [at] icstars [dot] org

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
90%
Industry retention rate:
81%
College attendance rate:
55%
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
72%
Average 12-month earnings before program:
$10,790
Average 12-month earnings after program:
$44,010