Between updating recruiting policies, practices, and tools, employers often grapple with the question of how to build a diverse workforce. You can't hire diverse candidates if they're not out there, so for employers to really support a more diverse business world, they need to help cultivate the diverse talent pools of tomorrow. That means investing in opportunities that encourage and attract diverse populations as early as elementary school.

By approaching diversity initiatives in this way, businesses can take action to support marginalized communities today and lay the foundation for enduring progress.

"Our vision is to ensure that our associate population at ADP is reflective of the communities in which we operate and the clients we serve," says Bob Lockett, Chief Diversity and Talent Officer at ADP. "That's our vision; it's where we want to be long-term."

Improve access to education

Employers can help plant the seeds of a more diverse workforce by offering financial support to institutions and organizations that work to improve access to education in marginalized communities. For instance, the ADP Foundation invests 10-15% of its annual spending in education to provide more opportunities for young people in disadvantaged communities near ADP offices and in other parts of the country.

Financial support can make a big difference in this regard, but it's also critical to build meaningful relationships with organizations that are doing the work on the ground.

"We're seeking to grow and refine our DE&I partnerships portfolio," says Corina Fisher, Senior Director, Diversity and Talent at ADP. "We want to ensure our partnerships are mutually beneficial. We will be involved with the members of each organization throughout the entire talent lifecycle. This can include guest lectures, webinars, and onsite events. Continuing to support and advance diverse talent benefits everyone."

For example, if an organization is looking to partner with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), its leaders should aim to identify how they can engage students and their talent throughout their schooling rather than only seeking to recruit them after they've graduated or been referred through a professional organization.

The earlier employers can get involved, the earlier they can start helping.

Foster gender diversity in STEM

The areas of business with the greatest gender and ethnic disparities present the most accessible opportunities for employers to make a meaningful difference.

In science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career paths, women are still historically underrepresented. An effective way to address this disparity is to provide more encouragement and support for young girls and women in STEM education.

ADP invests in several education initiatives and organizations focused on helping women discover and explore STEM career paths. For example, ADP partners with nonprofit organizations whose explicit mission is ensuring that girls and women get the education, exposure and experience they need to pursue STEM careers.

Create diversity goals for internship programs

When it comes to building a more diverse workforce, organizations may be overlooking the potential of their internship programs.

"One of the big wins that we've had most recently — specific to the sales channel — is the implementation of the internship program," says CT Mobley, Division Vice President, Sales at ADP. "There have been some really big 'aha' moments around the talent ... It wasn't just about having a generic swath of people; we had targets that we wanted to get to. We're very close to those targets, and I'm pretty sure that they'll be exceeded in the future."

Take steps today to create a better future

Contributing to the education and development of people with diverse backgrounds can significantly increase an organization's chances of making diverse hires and finding the best candidate for each open position.

Organizations are tracking more data than ever about candidate and employee demographics, and they should leverage that data to get a clear understanding of where they are, where they would like to be and what steps they can take with respect to expanding the diverse talent pools from which they draw. In doing so, employers can choose action over wishful thinking and begin making a meaningful difference in the education, opportunities, and experience of their future hires.

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Original article by ADP Spark.