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How do sectors that arguably lack diversity (such as finance) effectively create sea change that sticks? And why do they want to?

Alfie Chatman-Walter
Alfie Chatman-Walter, Manager, Office of Diversity and Inclusion

As appeared in the Cleveland Fed Digest's Ask the Expert on 09.26.2017

Issue #7 | September 26, 2017

This is something that many disciplines are grappling with, especially in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas, as well as in hiring executive-level talent; it’s not something isolated to our sector. How do you create that diversity? How do you retain that diversity? And I’m not talking just ethnic diversity; it’s gender diversity, internationalism, sexual orientation, physical ability. I previously worked for Case Western Reserve University and know the challenge mirrored itself. We were always concerned with how to recruit diverse students to fill the diverse pipelines of companies.

As we look to recruit more diverse talent, we’ve got to be more creative and we’ve got to be more aggressive. We are developing specialized community outreach programs to promote careers here and to attract potential employees much earlier. It used to be we’d show up first at college career fairs. Now we’re asking, how do we educate high school students on careers in the banking and finance industry?

Also, we’re putting an increased focus on cultivating long–term relationships with top candidates. For example, let’s say we are in the recruiting process, and for whatever reason, we are unsuccessful in bringing a candidate aboard. We continue to steward that relationship; we’re linking in on LinkedIn, inviting them to events, etc. Employees are only staying at companies on average three and a half years, so there could be opportunities with such top talent down the road.

The value of diversity in the workplace has been written about ad nauseam. Therefore, it’s not a business practice that needs to be sold, and it’s no longer an altruistic business practice. It’s not about it being the right thing to do. It’s been proven that diverse teams are more productive, more engaged teams.

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Alfie Chatman-Walter is manager of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Cleveland Fed.

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