Support for Minority Engineers Reflects Company Priorities and Values

Supporting Minority Engineers Reflects Priorities

I attended a historically black college. As an African American woman, it was the first and only place where I was part of the majority.

It’s an important experience that shapes the way I approach diversity recruitment programs. I know the workplace students face when they leave college – depending on where they choose to build their careers, many of these students will remain the minority.

Students – and all potential employees, really – need to feel that in their workplace they will be appreciated and supported and recognized. This is universal: it does not apply to any one group.

What does apply to minority groups – and I’m speaking from personal experience here – is that they see themselves represented at their potential employer from the very first meeting with recruiters.

To do that, one of our priorities is to attend events like those sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Two things happen here:

  • For the first time, many of our recruiters are now among the minority, and they get a sense of the challenges these students have and will face.
  • The students, ready to graduate and start careers, understand the importance we as a company place on supporting events that support their personal and professional growth.

If you are attending the NSBE Conference March 29-April 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, stop by and introduce yourself. We also have a hospitality suite at the conference on Thursday night, 8-10 p.m. Or, send me an email. Tell me what you’re looking for in a company and its culture.

Read more about our culture in our Corporate Responsibility Report.

Building Brand is More Than Name Recognition

The NSBE Conference, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, National Black MBA Conference (NBMBAA), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) International Conference are relationship building.

We attend because we want to start a relationship with diverse candidates. These potential employees bring with them diversity of thought and experience. And that makes us all stronger and more innovative.

That’s what is in it for us. But what’s in it for students and professionals?

Events like these are a great chance to ‘pre-interview’ a potential employer. Here you can get the information needed to make informed decisions about a potential company.

I wrote another blog, Why Company Culture is the Most Important Factor for Career Success. In it, I talk about the hardest – but most important – story to convey to potential employees: company culture. It’s important to trust your gut when it comes to a company: where and how it recruits. In my opinion, the single most important factor in career success is joining a company with a culture that makes you feel like you belong.

Video: learn more about our 2017 Catalyst Award-winning Culture of Inclusion journey. Key leaders across our organization share their perspectives on their experience and the continued work to create an environment where everyone can and wants to do their best work every day.

And that starts from the moment you meet your first company representative.

How a company recruits and supports non-dominant groups is a sign of a company’s culture. At events like NSBE, with limited time and so many potential interactions, there are questions students (and professionals seeking new opportunities) can ask to determine whether a company prioritizes minority development, career growth and success.

For example:

  • Do you have organizations like employee resource groups? And how do those groups develop their members?
  • How have you seen top talent navigate their careers?  What strategies have they used?
  • Do you have minority senior leaders?
  • How long have you been at the company and what do you like most about the culture?  What keeps you there?

Career Advice That Resonates

There are two pieces of career advice I value most – and have proven to help me grow my career:

1. Have passion in what you do. It shows.

2. To be promoted, you need merit and relationships. One without the other won’t work.

The NSBE conference and events like it are where that relationship starts, where connections begin between company and career.

Candace Barnes
Posted March 15, 2017 By Candace Barnes, Diversity Recruitment Programs Consultant, Rockwell Automation
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