By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. (President & CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund)
While “Diversity” is not a new term for the business world, it appears to be experiencing a resurgence of sorts lately. Every major corporation seems to be looking for employees from underrepresented groups—some, because they think these diverse perspectives will improve their corporate culture and make them better corporate citizens, while others believe it is simply “smart business” as they vie for future customers in an increasingly diverse country. But in all of their attempts to make progress, when it comes to recruiting future executives from America’s colleges, most employers continue to source their talent from the “usual suspects”—the same group of select colleges we all know—effectively ignoring deep pools of talented students attending other lesser-known or ranked schools.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), has designed a solution for employers seeking highly-talented diverse college graduates. We work with our corporate partners to identify, develop and deploy diverse talent, tapping into pools of talent found on the campuses of our 47 publicly-supported Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). Through this process, TMCF builds targeted, sustainable and diverse talent pipelines from HBCUs into corporate America and other major employers.
Indeed, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF), of the top 25 undergraduate institutions whose graduates went on to complete STEM doctorates (2,280), 12 HBCUs out-produced prestigious institutions (“the usual suspects”) by 64 percent, and 30 percent of African American STEM doctoral recipients were HBCU undergraduates. For the past 30 years, TMCF has built deep relationships with our member-schools, which allows us to efficiently find and develop the right students for specific positions.
TMCF uses predictive analytics to ensure that qualified talent have both the knowledge, acculturation, and other “soft skills” for them to be successful in a given partner’s workplace culture. Next, we develop those students through a variety of school-to-work professional and career development interventions. Finally, once our talent begins work with our partners as either full-time employees or interns, we monitor and provide additional support to ensure they transition properly. As a result, more than 80 national and global corporations and government agencies partner with TMCF to identify, develop and deploy diverse talent for specific positions and functions.
Through our solutions-focused programs, TMCF is partnering with leading technology companies to help address that industry’s diversity gap. Together with our partners TMCF has created both short- and long-tailed initiatives to build sustainable pipelines of diverse talent over time. Iconic American employers like Wells Fargo, Walmart, The Hershey Company and The Kellogg Company as well as mission-critical federal agencies like the Department of Defense (DOD) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) all partner with TMCF to identify and develop diverse talent for their companies’ needs, and they overwhelmingly report satisfaction with the results.
As an extension of our talent development competency, we have recently joined the newly announced CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, a coalition of corporate CEOs joining efforts to address the challenge of creating diverse workforces. TMCF offers both expertise and a deep pool of talent to help coalition members succeed in their targeted recruitment and development of diverse talent. With CEOs taking leadership roles to increase diversity in executive-track careers, TMCF is encouraged that executive-track workforces will become diverse over time.
As an organization that partners with businesses to create pipelines of diverse talent, we understand that addressing diversity over the long run requires sustained commitment and support, and TMCF is uniquely positioned to work with corporations to efficiently move beyond the “usual suspects” to engage a deeper pool of talent because America’s HBCUs can be part of the solution.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. is the President & CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. Prior to joining TMCF, he spent many years as a successful corporate executive and attorney. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnnyCTaylorJr.