We strive to build and nurture a culture where inclusiveness is a reflex, not an initiative.
That’s the powerful message to job seekers searching for opportunities at service company TRC — and it’s not just a line. According to TRC’s CHRO Laura Ramey, “Diversity and inclusion is a way of life. It’s not an initiative...there’s no start and there’s no stop.”
A global consulting, engineering, and construction management firm that provides environmentally focused and digitally marketed solutions across various markets, TRC has taken great strides in advocating for increased support of diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs and practices.
In addition, their recent investment in talent experience technology that prioritizes D&I throughout the hiring and management process reflects their stalwart commitment to innovative solutions and continuous progress.
We sat down with Ramey during a webinar on the topic to discuss how organizations can not only meet but exceed their D&I goals by breaking up silos, building community, and expanding talent pools.
Why developing a D&I program was critical
While recent civil rights and social justice movements have been a catalyst for change in D&I hiring across the board, TRC’s motivation runs deeper. “This is the future of our company,” said Ramey.
In addition to bringing unique perspectives and ideas to fuel innovation and enhance company culture, a wealth of data also shows diversity’s impact on higher performing, more satisfied teams and increased profitability. That’s exactly what TRC’s CEO had in mind when she challenged Ramey and her team to fill a record number of intern positions this past year...during the pandemic...and with a diversity goal to boot.
Through a combination of strategies, Ramey’s team was able to deliver and almost double their internship program diversity goal, hitting a 62.7% milestone.
Setting their program’s vision and goals
TRC set a diversity attraction goal of 32%, keeping in mind that the process of setting and strategically approaching diversity goals varied from city to city. Ramey explained that recruiting in a diverse city like Houston is much easier to achieve diversity goals compared to an area like Maine. As a result, it’s vital to analyze an area’s demographics and match the diversity goals to reflect the communities.
Ramey’s team also decided to diversify the schools they were pulling from for their internship program, including historically black colleges and those with women engineering programs.
Armed with a list of 25 new schools renowned for strong diversity rates and programs, this strategy was pivotal in connecting with and engaging broader pools of talent. “We got connected with those programs...and once you do that, those folks become your ambassadors. They’re your voice at the school. They’re trusted, so they help drive people to our intern program.”
Despite leveraging social media and university recruiting campaigns centered around tech talks Ramey went on to say that these efforts are “nothing like what we’re going to be able to do with our Phenom People talent communities that we’re launching right now.”
Moving forward, TRC hopes to build a TRC alumni community, past intern community, and a community in which TRC employees can become featured speakers at schools or help interns with school projects through the platform.
Supportive programs & strategies to grow diverse talent
TRC views diversity and inclusion as a “road trip,” Ramey explained, equating it to a journey centered around their people. Providing support and keen leadership along the way is key to attracting and retaining diverse talent, she says.
TRC’s numerous committees and programs — including its People Committee, Women’s GROW Committee, and STEP internship program — show candidates and employees that TRC is actively present in guiding them along their personal career paths.
While these committees and programs are instrumental in helping TRC’s people feel supported, continuous “maintenance” is mandatory when it comes to D&I. “You have to be constantly measuring, testing the temperature, and following through on all of these items. There’s no secret sauce or magic recipe,” says Ramey.
In other words, it takes work — but having the right tools at one’s disposal can lighten the load and make goals a reality.
TRC’s next steps
As TRC continues adding to its comprehensive D&I efforts, they’ll be leveraging the Phenom TXM platform to deliver amazing talent experiences that also make recruiters’ and managers’ lives easier and more productive. First up is creating a multitude of supportive social communities dedicated to D&I, military, alumni, interns, leadership, and HIPO employee groups. Having dedicated spaces for different groups of people to turn to for information, inspiration, and real-time communication is central to their strategy.
“It’s endless when you think about what you can do,” shared Ramey. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the possibilities and don’t know where to start, she recommends listening to your employees and your leaders. “What’s important to them? That’s where you start.”
Exploring technology that can help
A key question many companies want the answer to: How can we leverage technology to support diversity hiring goals and initiatives?
While there are countless ways tech can help, Phenom’s Director of Product, Kumar Ananthanarayana, is quick to point out that artificial intelligence can be used to support D&I initiatives — but it’s not a magic bullet that’s exempt from oversight.
“We fundamentally believe that DE&I is not a problem that AI can directly solve,” he emphasized. “But we believe that AI can be an enabler to really build those pipelines,” by increasing awareness of potential bias and better aligning goals through transparency.
He went on to describe a “crawl, walk, run” method that Ramey subscribes to for implementing diversity and inclusion practices using HR technology:
Crawl. Optimizing your career site is a great place to start in the early stages of rolling out tech to support your D&I efforts. Showcasing diversity and inclusion practices, creating more inclusive job descriptions, and encouraging employees to join employee resource groups (ERGs) through omni-channel campaigns, are impactful first steps. ERGs are extremely helpful in facilitating connections between employees by pulling together diverse pools of people and encouraging them to chat.
Walk. The next phase covers the utilization of AI to match and score best-fit candidates on the basis of competency, experience, and skill versus more subjective criteria. These AI-powered fit scores help recruiters and managers minimize unconscious bias that can creep into the hiring process. Using a chatbot and easy-to-complete web forms, candidates can also build profiles to join specific networks within a company’s talent community to receive targeted job updates and content.
AI can also examine the text on your job descriptions and find opportunities to make language more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities.
Run. Companies ready to leverage the full benefits of technology can turn to Phenom technology for hiring performance throughout the entire talent lifecycle and use real-time analytics to track traffic and lead sources to support diversity hiring goals.
If it’s important to your organization to have a certain breakdown of diverse talent on specific teams, AI can do the analysis on your workforce and reveal the gaps. Hiring managers can then compare their company’s diversity and inclusion standing to industry benchmarks, and AI can provide a clear roadmap for improvement.
In addition, AI can recommend next career steps or opportunities to employees so they are aware of how to advance their career, even if bias has prevented them from hearing about these opportunities from their manager or leadership.
As TRC continues their D&I journey, Ramey is excited to get to the "run" stage. "There’s so much that we have planned,” she shared. "And a lot of it is going to be built around the Phenom platform."