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Untapped Talent Panelists Urge Employers to Tap Into Diverse Talent Pools

Untapped Talent Panelists

February 28, 2020

The Greater Des Moines Partnership recently held the first of six talent pool events, Untapped Talent — African Americans, in Downtown Des Moines (DSM).

I had the opportunity kick off the event and began by discussing the importance of identifying problems yet to be solved within business. One of these areas of work is within the realm of diversity and inclusion. This issue is one that’s been at the forefront of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s strategic priorities for the past five years. With the help of the ever-evolving DSMpartnership.com toolkit, business and community leaders are able to tap into new talent pools and develop even more resources for their businesses in DSM, as well as create opportunities to reduce the unemployment rate. Through the toolkit, you can view an inclusion guide, view inclusion webinars and more.

Cultivating a Diverse Talent Pool

The Untapped Talent — African Americans discussion panel, led by Sailu Timbo, Director of Diversity and Recruiting at Hy-Vee and Inclusion Council Member for The Partnership, featured: Will Holmes, Starts Right Here Movement; Dennis Henderson, Broadlawns Medical Center; Negus Snakofa Imhotep, Urban Dreams; and Nancy Richardson, Hy-Vee.

Untapped Talent Audience

The panelists discussed an array of topics, including reasons that diverse job applicants do not have a level playing field and how many resumes are not evaluated in the same way. They went on to say that employers must expand their networks and reach beyond their normal connections to tap into new pools of talent.

Dannie Patrick, of the Palmer Group, took away three key points from the event: the importance of allowing new hires/diverse hired to provide input, that employers are the ones who need to broaden their search for talent and that employers can start now to make changes to include a more diverse sampling of candidates. “One of the most valuable moments I had was when Marvin mentioned that based on the research, it was found that black people didn’t have job opportunities because they were not in the network employers reached out to,” Danny said. To find new talent, employers must try to learn about other groups within the community.

Jane Pauba Dodge, human resources director for the City of West Des Moines and attended the event, found it revealing that mentoring was highlighted as a way to help businesses reach out to untapped talent. She concurred that by including those we meet in our networks; we may be the “in” to an organization for someone in a marginalized group. It’s as simple as mentoring and taking a chance on someone or adding a new contact on LinkedIn! We can each do our part in helping talented individuals find the right fit within our communities, while continuing to grow local business across the region.

It was also shared that Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is currently the only organization flying the Black History Month flag outside their corporate offices. Flags like this (and the LGBTQ flag) are encouraging to the community and an opportunity to implement inclusiveness within our businesses. Sharing Black History Month community events with employees is another.

Jane also found it interesting that Harvard Business Review research outlined how more can be done to increase the odds of hiring diverse candidates. Take these statistics into consideration:

  • If there are at least two female candidates in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a female candidate are 79 times greater.
  • If there are at least two minority candidates in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a minority candidate are 194 times greater.

Mary Ho Tran, another attendee at the event, agreed that we have to make opportunities in DSM seem “as cool as” or “cooler” than the alternatives. We have a duty to highlight DSM’s opportunities to our youth while they are still students and before the start of their higher education decision-making process. Building relationships through mentoring and sponsorships at a young age, in safe spaces, are the beginning in long-term changes that need to be made.

To watch the entire livestreamed event, click here.

The next event in this series is Untapped Talent — Returning Citizens on March 26 at the Evelyn K. Davis Center. To join us, please register here.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.