There’s a vital need for diversity in corporate America. Just ask the growing number of companies baking diversity and its cousin, inclusion, into their recruitment programs. The business case is compelling, particularly considering the widening IT skills gap, which could see 1.8 million tech positions left unfilled by 2020.
In addition, according to a research arm of Deloitte specializing in talent strategies, most highly inclusive organizations: generate 2.3 times more cash flow per employee, produce 1.4 times more revenue, and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets.
Such business results are hard to ignore. That said, where can companies find the job candidates that will enhance their corporate diversity and inclusion programs—and their bottom lines?
Many companies turn to organizations that groom technology talent from underserved and previously untapped resource pools, such as military veterans and disabled workers. These individuals get the specialized training they need to enter the corporate workforce and be immediately productive.
So says Dr. Arthur Langer, director of the Center for Technology Management at Columbia University, who in 2005 founded Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a nonprofit that connects leading companies with a pipeline of early-career individuals from underserved populations and post-9/11 veterans. Since 2005, WOS has trained and placed more than 3,800 individuals in 65 corporations.
“Underserved populations and veterans need to be on equal footing when they join the workforce,” Langer said. “Our program not only prepares them to hit the ground running within a company, but also helps them build their self-confidence and esteem, which is key for them to successfully integrate into the workplace.”
Harnessing Veterans’ Skillsets
WOS partners with universities and colleges throughout the U.S. to create academic curricula that align with real-world corporate objectives. Langer said individuals in the WOS program are handpicked and trained to fill roles requested by companies that partner with WOS to find job candidates. The majority are in IT, and include programming and design, cybersecurity, project management, services, operations and business support among others.
“The commitment to personal learning and growth that we see in these individuals is off the charts,” said Warren Kudman, CIO of Turner Construction, a WOS partner company for more than six years.