Diversity recruiting continues to be a core element of overall college recruiting programs. Nearly 71 percent of employers responding to NACE’s 2015 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey. How can your campus recruiting team contributes to your organization’s diversity recruiting efforts and expand the diversity efforts within your current campus recruiting program? In this video, you are going to learn from the expert what you can do to increase the diversity in your campus recruiting program.
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Welcome to In and outs of Recruiting Millennials, a monthly video podcast interviewing innovators in talent acquisition with the focus on hiring millennials and early-career talents. This podcast is the production of Rakuna. We help organizations to enhance, and optimize their campus recruiting process.
This month, we are going to talk about “Increase the Diversity in Your Campus Recruiting Program”
My name is Trong Dong, CEO & Co-founder at Rakuna. Joining us today, we have Iram Jamil , University Relations for Ericsson Silicon Valley, a world-leading provider of communication technology and services.
Trong: Iram, thank you for taking time to speak with us today on Rakuna’s channel. So tell us a bit about your background and anything interesting that you are working on at Ericsson
Iram: Hi Trong, thanks for having me. I come from an extensive HR background and have worked in many areas of human resources, including HR automation, employee data management, employee marketing and branding, strategic planning and experienced recruiting. But the past 3 years, my focus has been university relations. So I manage the university relations program at Ericsson Silicon Valley, which is part of a larger North America program that employs up to 360 employees each semester. I run the Silicon Valley internship program, build faculty and student relationship, create brand awareness at university campuses, and hire interns and college grads for entry and mid level positions.
So Ericsson is a global ICT or Information & Communication Technology leader. Ericsson employs over 160,000 people across the world and over 14,000 in North America alone. So talent acquisition is definitely an impactful place to be. We are working on so many exciting things at Ericsson, it is hard to pick just one. But one thing that is fresh in my mind is the Watermark Conference for Women which I attended just yesterday. Ericsson is proud to be one of the event sponsors for Watermark, and it is one of the most drawing events I had the privilege to take part in. Next week, I’ve got “Girls in ICT”, which is a event coming up focusing on inspiring elementary school girl to be interested in science, technology, engineering & math. And then of course, with the summer internship program coming up, my team and I are always gearing up for the internship program during this time of the year especially. We expect to have 400 interns start across the U.S. and Canada, in just about 4 weeks.
Trong: Wow! That’s pretty impressive. Can you tell us a bit about the program? How long has it been around?
Iram: Absolutely! Ericsson University Relations Program has been around for more than a decade. The University Relations team runs the program for all North America, and as a group, we partner with other counterparts in other regions when we organize global programs and other initiatives. So each member of our University Relations team starts with a recruiter, a brand ambassador, a campus & program manager, and a resource for interns. So in my team we’ve got 12 members. The majority of my team sits in Plano, Texas, which is where our corporate headquarter is for North America. And we’ve got two recruiters on the West Coast, just myself and my colleague, two recruiters in Canada, and one recruiter on the East Coast.
So Ericsson hires interns for the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms. Our goal is to ultimately convert our interns into full-time hires. Ericsson is the 5th largest software company in the world, and it’s a major IT infrastructure solution service provider. We have a tremendous need to hire across areas of the business so we have a definite focus in cloud, TV, media, radio, networking and support software and consulting services.
Trong: Given your experiences in campus recruiting, what do you think is the role of campus recruiting in your organization’s diversity recruiting efforts?
Iram: Well I believe we have an unique opportunity and freedom to innovate new strategies to create a diverse talent pipeline. The Internet and the information age mean we have access to the global marketplace and the ability to impact it. At Ericsson, we inspire innovation, communication, and connectivity around the world. Without a diverse workforce, our company would not be as equipped to market our service to market and sell them to the wide range of customers and consumers that we encounter in the global economy. So as an external face of a global organization on college campuses, we have a huge responsibility to attract not only the best talent but also diverse talent.
We also have the responsibility to build awareness internally so employees and managers understand the benefits of hiring diverse candidates. It’s also important that they understand that different recruiting methods attract different types of students.
Trong: I have seen companies go very creative with diversity recruiting. How would you describe Ericsson’s approach to diversity recruiting?
Iram: Ericsson recognizes that each employee possesses unique strengths and weakness from personal experiences, so the more more diverse population of employees is, the wider experiences and understanding you are drawing from. When managed properly in the workplace, diversity can leverage the strengths and complement the weaknesses of each worker to make the impact of the workforce greater than the sum of its parts. I’m excited about the positive impact our UR program is making on our diversity goals. Over the past three years that I have been here, I’ve seen the university relations team really transform the focus from college recruitment to to implementing creative and diversity focused recruitment strategies on campuses. One of Ericsson goal is that by 2020, 30% of our global workforce population should be females. We understand that in order to compete with that, we must create a focus on diversity and work on a wide range of employees and make efforts to evolve with the trend.
Trong: Well, clearly it’s very important to have a specific target goal to pursue. In your case, it would be 30% of female in workforce by 2020. Now help me understand how do you go about managing that diversity recruiting at Ericsson?
Iram: Well, there is not one group that is entirely charged with diversity recruitment. Instead, it is a labor of many different groups, and we all seeking to achieve the same outcome. So university relations relies on many groups throughout the year in order to be successful. We have a Global Branding team that works to strengthen Ericsson’s employer brand globally. And often, they assist us with large campaign, events, social media and support. Our local Campus and Community division hosts diversity events in the Bay Area, which often includes students. And we also partner with our marketing or internal communications groups as well. So collaboration across various organizations is vital to our success because it helps us to create a better end product while also building valuable support and awareness internally.
Trong: Let’s switch our gear a little bit here. Big data is a hot buzzword nowadays. A lot of people talk about that. How do you go about tracking diversity recruiting data in your campus recruiting program?
Iram: Tracking diversity is a tricky thing because it’s important to understand how many diverse candidates you are reaching out to. But, you also do not want to encourage any unconscious bias by marking candidates as diverse.
Our team overcomes this challenge by:
- Setting targets around specific sourcing opportunities
- We attend conferences, career fairs and networking events that are targeted towards or proven to bring in diverse groups, we set this focus
- We have a set a percentage goal around these types of events, and make them an integral part of our recruiting cycle.
Our system does allow candidate to elect whether to input gender and ethnicity information in our hiring system. So we welcome when they elect not to give this information, but if they do, this personal information is confidential and the system does generate reports on overall activity. This gives us a good understanding of the total group. So we are able to measure the percentage of diversity-focused events we engage in each year and compare them to the steady rise of interviews, employees, and retained diverse groups within the company. So using this method, we know that, we increased the percentage of external female applicants to one of our key global job portals from 16 percent to 21 percent in just the last 9 months
Trong: Well of course nothing in the world worth of doing comes easy. Can you share, what are the most challenging parts of diversity recruiting at entry-level? And how do you tackle these challenges?
Unconscious bias in job descriptions is definitely a challenge to overcome. Studies show that certain language and requirements within a job description are more or less likely to attract certain kinds of candidates. So sometimes that job description encourages bias, even though the writer might not have intended it that way
To overcome this issue, we have a team that uses software to scrub our job descriptions of language that can be problematic. Of course there could be unconscious bias when reviewing resume as well. And this is a matter of continuous education so our team is aware of the bias and overcome it in the future.
The greatest issue in the past has been that not enough females were applying to our jobs. So with that understanding, our aim has been to focus our outreach to diversity-specific universities and building relationships with career services, faculty, student organizations, and business fraternities to help gain insight and ideas on ways we can promote our brand. Our students know who Ericsson is as a business, and as a major player using technology for good as its core value, we can also add depth to that. Different core values and offering resonate with different groups of people. We work to be very intentional and strategic with our messaging.
Trong: What are some of the first steps that company needs to take if they want to incorporate diversity recruiting in their current UR program?
Iram: Attracting and retaining diverse talent begins with management. So our initiative to create a more diverse workforce environment starts with our CEO, and our diversity council, employee resources group, and hiring managers.
We have created an Unconscious Bias training program within Ericsson which teaches our talent acquisition team how to hire and managers how to work in a diverse environment, and then to manage people from different backgrounds, and how to be more interactive and growing their departments. It’s not just about hiring a diverse group, it’s also about retaining them. So Ericsson’s goal is for 30% of our workforce to be females, and we are taking very strong initiatives to make that focus our objective in talent acquisition. And then while there are several other initiatives will be needed to solve this multi-dimensional challenge, doing this one thing in big organization will get instantaneous result. So ensuring there is a balance of men and women in the C-suite, board and the extended executive leadership. So having an equal number of men and women in the top is a clear signal to the next level and the level below that the organization is embracing and requiring diversity.
While doing that, companies can also bring in their customers to validate this approach as most companies have as many women customers and men. So manage this well, this can give a positive brand boost to the company and provide a great group of mentors who can encourage and support future hires.
We’ve invested a lot of corporate collaboration tools for our internal learning programs. It is increasing the way people want to learn, particularly millennials - that’s what we found through our research. We created Ericsson Play, a video learning model, where any employee can upload their own videos. And today we have over 30 video channels with over 450,000 video views. We also launched Ericsson Academy Virtual Campus, which makes online training available to all our employee and we’ve included mobile programs as well so people can learn on the go. And coaching managers on the making diversity a notable objective on their radar and understanding why it matters to hire more women is also a key part of our program.
Trong: Could you share some tactics that you recommend for companies to boost recruiting diverse students through their on-campus activities?
Iram: Working with student organizations is an obvious choice. When we hold female-focused events, we want to show our audience the male support in our organization so we invite how the men to speak at the event. So it is not only women-focused event, we want to show that male support. It is amazing how much support we got from Ericsson from our male colleagues.
Also, partnering with students who have a pulse on the campus and talk to them to see where there are diversity gaps and how can your company fill that void when we go on campus. When you hold events on campus, you must exhibit diversity from our recruiting team when doing campus events to represent our current organization’s diversity. We like to have a mix of executives, technical, non-technical, men, women, people from diverse ethnicities, different age groups, and even different work locations so that they can bring in a new dimension to our messaging on campus.
Managers and employees who attend your event should be especially conscious of your goals around diversity and should be able to speak to different groups of people in ways that will resonate with them and that will not promote unconscious bias.
Trong: We already talked about challenges. So you know what I gonna ask you. Can you share some success stories that you have at Ericsson with diversity recruiting?
Iram: Support and advocacy comes from the top. So before Ericsson has females in the executive team and now there are 4 since the last few years. So if employees don’t see it from the leaders, then it won’t happen across the board. Recently, Ericsson has hold our 3rd annual Women In Technology and Innovation event, and this is an all-day conference held at our Silicon Valley campus where we invite female students from local universities to learn and be inspired by our Ericsson executive team of female and male, and also our management and employees, men and women, to learn about ways in which women can be successful in the workplace. Each year, the event has grown in numbers, so that is exciting to see it takes a life of its own. And through this event, we’ve been able to build relationships with students who want us to partner with their university or various students organizations for specific recruiting events. So Women in Technology event alone has given us access to opening up different channels to connect with other faculty and groups who share the same goals in recruiting diverse students.
This month, Ericsson sponsors the annual Watermark event, which is a conference for women. Later this year, we will attend Grace Hopper Conference, the largest conference of its kind. Last year, we held the recruiting event specific to NSBE. These are just some of success that we have in our diversity initiatives.
Trong: My last question before I let you go to enjoy your weekends. Is there anything else that is near and dear to your heart about diversity recruiting and campus recruiting that we’ve not covered but you want to talk about?
Iram: During some of our Women in Technology and Innovation events, I heard first-hand about the difficulties of females being outnumbered and working extra hard to prove themselves in male-dominated technical disciplines. I remember one girl who said she was mechanical engineering and she was the only female mechanical engineer in her entire class and everyone knew her as the Female. She was like “I had to try to prove myself and work harder so I can be on par with those males.” But she continue to persevere, and that courage just makes me want to help women more about take on STEM discipline, be a part of that, and not give up. So I made it a personal objective to do what I can to be a huge advocate for women in STEM, and I just hope that I can inspire them in some way. I know that I’m in a position to make that change possible. I empathize with these women and applaud for their courage to remain strong and persevere. So diversity is near and dear to me. I think it’s just a matter of time as more organizations understand the focus of diversity recruitment and placing an emphasize with corporate goals and a top-down approach with leadership, it’s possible that we are in the middle of this evolution and the fact that I could be a part of it is really exciting for me personally.
Trong: Absolutely. I believe evolution is really happening now. Iram, thank you again so much for taking the time to share your advices with us today. And folks, this is where I leave you for today. Don’t’ forget to check us out on YouTube, Soundcloud, and of course subscribe to stay updated. See you back next month!