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One Houston Together: How Two Organizations are Building a Sustainable Process for Hiring Diversity

Published Mar 30, 2022 by A.J. Mistretta

Carlecia Wright of Lone Star College discusses the institution's talent efforts

Enbridge DEI

Amanda Scott with Enbridge presents at March Talent Roundtable

For many companies attempting to hire and promote diverse talent today, practical pathways to action are sometimes elusive. The Partnership’s One Houston Together Talent Roundtable gathers the region’s leading employers to share best practices and tools for advancing talent diversity in deliberate and measurable ways. 

In a roundtable discussion held earlier this month, representatives from Enbridge and Lone Star College shared what their organizations are doing to continue to diversify talent across multiple factors of identity- race, gender, veteran status, LGBTQ+ and more. 

Carlecia Wright, Chief Diversity Officer for Lone Star College talked about the need for data-informed decision making that includes an in-depth look at departmental hiring trends. She described how the data-driven approach is being employed across all 7 campuses for Lone Star – the region’s largest higher ed institution serving more than 85,000.

Such data assists in bias reduction, helps create demographic profiles and enables hiring managers to study profiles for each position before hiring to help increase racial diversity. Analytics, Wright said, provide baseline insight around hiring diversity and helps the college set benchmarks for advancing it. She also shared how the college has implemented accountability with the college presidents and that this is a priority for the Chancellor. Their collective leadership is key to progress. 

Amanda Scott, Specialist in DEI and Talent Acquisition Strategy at Enbridge, discussed how the midstream energy company developed a firmwide model for DEI maturity and set benchmarks to advance progress. 

The journey included focus groups, an inclusion survey, evaluations and strategic action. Enbridge purchased some data and used other data from the Census to help determine diversity goals. Conversation trackers were also deployed to require at least two conversations per team annually. 

Today, Enbridge has a comprehensive look at its workforce diversity across offices and divisions around the world. The live data analytics tool is available to everyone in the company as well as Enbridge’s vendors. The dashboard tracks new hire demographics, promotions, turnover and other factors affecting workforce diversity. The company also conducts a pay equity analysis annually. 

Enbridge’s work in this arena recently won the company a coveted Catalyst Award, recognizing multinational companies considered best-in-class in DEI initiatives. Watch a short video from Enbridge employees and leaders on the importance of DEI. 

Other key takeaways from the Roundtable discussion:

  • Create data visualization tools to make metrics accessible
  • Consider including age when creating diversity profiles 
  • Continue to keep customers and clients involved with organization’s DEI progress 
  • Measure progress by continuing to participate in Partnership’s Equity & Inclusion Assessment and encouraging other organizations to do so
  • Increase storytelling around best practices to help others in their journey 
  • Build off the work of one another and identify partners within the Talent Roundtable to continue discussion offline 
  • Work to develop sustainable pipelines to leadership that will endure 

Learn about the Partnership’s One Houston Together effort, the results of the region’s Diversity & Inclusion assessment and more here
 

Elizabeth Balderrama contributed to this post. 

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One Houston Together: Member Spotlight on Bank of America’s Efforts to Advance Underrepresented Talent

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As part of its ongoing effort to showcase success in the retention and advancement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color talent, the Partnership’s One Houston Together hosted its latest roundtable discussion in July featuring a conversation with Tiffany Douglas, Global Women’s Initiative and Under-represented Talent Strategy Executive with Bank of America.   Increasing racial equity in the corporate talent pipeline and board leadership is one of the two priorities of One Houston Together alongside increasing spending with Minority Business Enterprises. The roundtable discussions are designed to share best practices and showcase Partnership members that are leading change.  Here are several key takeaways from the conversation with Tiffany Douglas at Bank of America.  Douglas’ team works with internal and external partners to help drive advocacy for women and underrepresented talent. Bank of America has an intentional strategy to ensure diverse voices and talent are at the table for more responsible growth. The goal: reflect the communities and clients the bank serves.  Douglas emphasized that it takes intentional practice to create change and improve outcomes. She shared that it’s not a question about if we do this but how the bank does it. This charge is supported by the board of directors, CEO, management team, Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, Executive Councils, Market Presidents in 92 markets, and all employee networks. The bank seeks to drive inclusion “everywhere” not just in go to market products. While approximately 40 professionals across an organization with roughly 200,000 employees are working in D&I through various lines of business and the bank’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council, Bank of America’s philosophy is that everyone is part of driving inclusion.  Bank of America uses a number of tools to assist with connecting and empowering employees across the organization including on demand online learning, virtual sessions, and mindfulness apps. The bank consistently asks for feedback to learn how and if the tools are working and to incorporate colleagues’ perspective. Another tool is the bank’s Connections page, which serves as a sort of internal social media network. Employees can fill out a profile describing their work as well as out-of-office interests, volunteer activities etc. Douglas said this helps people connect with one another on a personal level. Bank of America also provides D&I Bootcamps and Inclusive Learning opportunities for employees.  The organization hosts what it calls Let’s Get Real Conversations, virtual chat sessions that allow employees to discuss topics ranging from LGBTQ pride to women’s leadership. In 2021, the bank held 350 such conversations with thousands of views that were recorded, allowing team members that could not participate live to go back and watch later. Douglas said it’s important that such initiatives meet employees where they are, allowing them to engage when it’s convenient.  Bank of America supports mentorship both across the organization and through various lines of business and encourages colleagues to earn and ask for sponsorship relationships. Knowing the skills and aspirations of current employees gives leadership greater ability to recommend individuals for the right opportunities, whether in their current line of business or elsewhere in the company. “The more we know our talent and can understand not just what they do but who they are an what their aspirations are, the better we can move people and recommend them for opportunities. It’s not just about recruiting new talent, we have to retain the talent we already have,” she said.  Douglas said one challenge is that job titles don’t often adequately describe what a person actually does. Through mentorship and other programs, employees are encouraged to talk about what they actually do and how they do it, which in turn leads to better targeted opportunities.  When it comes to the leading factors helping advance underrepresented talent, Douglas said it’s about starting at the top and measuring and inspecting progress.  Learn more about One Houston Together and read about other case studies. 
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The first installment of the Partnership’s new One Houston Together webinar series focused on Opportunities in Supplier Diversity, offering insight from a new report on the impact of minority businesses in the region and perspective from a local energy company that’s launched a successful supplier diversity program.  LaTanya Flix, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Partnership, moderated the discussion and gave an overview of the structure and key objectives of One Houston Together as well as the definition of supplier diversity and its significance to our region. Ziba Mehra, Director of Purchasing, Calpine shared a corporate perspective on establishing a robust supplier diversity program.  Ingrid Robinson, President, Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC) discussed trends and  MBE growth in the Houston region.   Roel Martinez, Vice President Research at the Partnership shared findings from the recently released Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Economic Impact Analysis, produced in collaboration with HMSDC.   Here are a few key takeaways from the conversation:  Growing spending with minority business enterprises is one of two priority areas of One Houston Together. Flix shared that the supplier diversity workstream includes a Supplier Diversity Roundtable that meets 4-5 times a year, as well as a newly established Houston Buyer Cohort and a Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) Convening. “We have one big goal: to help make Houston one of the most equitable and inclusive business communities in the country,” Flix said.  Martinez highlighted key findings of the recently published Houston MBE Economic Impact Analysis. MBEs are defined as businesses that are at least 51% owned, managed or controlled by Black, Hispanic, Asian Indian, Asian Pacific or Native American individuals. The report found that:  771 certified MBEs are operating in metro Houston across 18 different sectors, with the largest number in professional services.  The vast majority of these companies are operating in the business-to-business arena and nearly half have revenues of $1 million or more annually.  Collectively these companies reported revenues totaling $8.2 billion in 2020.  Correlations between revenue and employee counts and industry sector, race and revenue. While the report focused on data from 2020, Robinson said HMSDC is seeing significant growth in the number of certified MBEs, which totaled 850 companies at the end of last year. And while most of the newly launched businesses are in the professional services sector, there’s also growing diversity in the sectors represented, Robinson said. “I definitely see more growth happening this year as well, including more interest in places like energy transition where there’s a lot of excitement.”  Robinson said the largest opportunity for growth is in what’s called the middle market or secondary supplier space where prime suppliers working with large corporations can develop partnerships with growing MBEs. “We have aggressive near and long-term goals,” she said, adding that Houston is well positioned thanks to its diversity and robust business community to set the standard for the nation.  Robinson reminded the audience that while many MBEs are small businesses, that doesn’t mean they lack capacity or are unable to meet the demands of major purchasers. Capacity is often among the leading concerns of companies beginning a supplier diversity effort. “It’s one of the mind shifts we have to make,” said Robinson.  HMSDC recently launched a new tool designed to help area companies find qualified MBEs for their purchasing needs. The Diverse Business Finder website allows companies to search for suppliers by category, location, keyword and more.  Mehra with Calpine discussed the energy company’s effort that launched in 2020 to significantly increase spending with minority businesses. With buy-in from senior leadership and a structured approach to developing metrics and goals tied to the program, Calpine’s supplier diversity efforts resulted in several award nominations. “Running a successful supplier diversity program requires a strong commitment and dedicated resources,” she said. “Engagement and communication are definite keys to success.”    Learn more about the work of One Houston Together.   
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