Fireside Chat

Inclusive Employment: What if employers flexed how they hired and cultivated talent to specifically include communities hardest hit by poverty?

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Over the last decade, we started seeing two complementary phenomena: (1) employers began focusing more time and resources on diversity and inclusion (D&I), and (2) companies became increasingly interested in lifting up nearby communities experiencing poverty, but wanted to do more than just give philanthropically.

While we’ve seen significant gains in diversity and corporate social responsibility efforts (CSR), employers could find and retain more diverse talent by leveraging an under-tapped talent pool: people in nearby communities who are ready to work, but are often sidelined by the mainstream economy (e.g., lack a diploma, have been justice-involved, are housing insecure, etc.). Imagine if inclusive employment extended beyond hiring people of different backgrounds to specifically focus on hiring and cultivating talent from communities hardest hit by poverty.

This session will challenge the audience on how we might extend inclusive employment to intentionally target people from divested communities to strengthen their diversity and community health . In doing so, we will cover five pillars – and actionable steps employers can take within them – to flex their business practices to strengthen inclusive employment, including:

  • Sourcing: Where employers source talent – including steps they can take to make jobs more accessible to people who have historically been sidelined by the mainstream economy (e.g., lack a diploma, criminal justice involvement, homelessness, etc.).
  • Hiring: How employers can reduce bias and increase the likelihood for success when they bring on people from disinvested communities.
  • Job Quality: How employers can ensure employees have the support and job quality they need to maintain stability and thrive in their roles.
  • Advancement: How employers can ensure that there are pathways to advancement beyond entry-level roles for those with lower credentials.
  • Public Positioning: How employers can play a role in increasing buy-in and adoption by making a public commitment, with the actions to back it up.

Confirmed Panelists

Maria Kim, President and CEO, Cara Chicago

Maria is CEO and President of Cara Chicago, which has helped people experiencing poverty move into 10,000 jobs at 70% one-year, same-firm retention rates. Maria serves on the boards of EPIC Academy, a charter high school in South Chicago and Rebuilding Exchange (a social enterprise in the circular economy). She is a member of the 2020 Presidential Leadership Scholars, served as co-chair of the Chicago Mayor’s economic and neighborhood development transition committee, and was a fellow for Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2008, a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow, a 2013 TEDxMidwest Emerging Leader, and a 2018 Bank of America Vital Voices Global Ambassador. Maria holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Unconfirmed Panelists

Possible facilitators or panelists could include the CEO or senior executive from one of our many corporate employment partners.

Supporting Materials

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  1. Maria Kim has an innovative take on employment as it relates to poverty. Her narrative is a voice needed.

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