Positive Friday Message on Inclusive Employment from Brenda...

Happy Friday!

I (Brenda Palms-Barber) had a great visit to New Orleans last week.

I was visiting with members of the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Aspen Skills Academy. They are working together to create new pathways to prosperity for the economically insecure residents in New Orleans.

Their work is very inspiring. Yet, in some ways, I can't help but think it is unfortunate so many of us have to work on creating opportunity for those in need.

Why aren't the opportunities there already?

Back here in Chicago, my team attended a One Chicago for All working session on inclusive employment with a number of large Chicago employers.

Inclusive employment is the act of hiring residents from high-poverty neighborhoods.

For the record, unemployment for black Chicagoans is 21.6%. For white Chicagoans, it is 6.3%.

All of the employers in attendance felt the issue was very important. That's why they were there.

Several of the employers were already successfully hiring from high-poverty neighborhoods.

The employers hiring from high poverty neighborhoods were not just interested, they were committed to doing so.

And commitment meant they took the intentional actions they needed to be successful.

They set up collaborations with neighborhood organizations, adjusted hiring standards and declared its importance to the organization. They created performance incentives for management.

The employers who were not yet hiring from high-poverty neighborhoods, even though they had good intentions, saw many challenges in doing so.

Corporate hiring standards was one issue. Acknowledging the stigma and internal cultural challenges were also mentioned. And the general thought that it would be "risky."

My team was struck by what may now seem evident to you, too.

Taking action on one's intention is critical to moving forward and making positive change. Ideas will remain challenging until one takes productive action.

So how can companies begin to take action on their good intentions for inclusive hiring?

That's what the One Chicago For All coalition is doing for Chicago employers.

It has identified the key actions and conditions for employers to successfully recruit talent from high-poverty neighborhoods. They include sourcing strategies, hiring guidelines, job quality, advancement opportunities and a public statement to de-stigmatize the strategy.

The coalition is an experienced, no-cost partner for Chicago employers to increase their hiring from high poverty neighborhoods.

Success in this initiative will mean thousands of families will exit the cycle of poverty which in turn stabilizes neighborhoods and reduces crime.

Who wouldn't want to take action on that?

If you know of a Chicago employer who could benefit from successfully expanding their hiring pool while transforming lives, please just hit reply and we can talk more.

Have a great weekend!