BY: Wahab Owolabi
For the past 3 years, supported by an amazing group of volunteers, URx has hosted the URx Conference and URx Community events. We’ve been busy connecting recruiters with each other and college employer relations teams — building a supportive community for them, and introducing students to career opportunities. It’s been a journey and we have learned a ton along the way. Below are three learnings I’d like to highlight.
Companies & Universities Care Deeply about Diversity & Inclusion
There are incredibly passionate people at great universities and companies who are working to increase diversity in their organizations. It has been the single biggest topic of conversation at every URx Conference, as stakeholders realize they share enormous amounts of passion for diversity and inclusion.
We have seen this realization push recruiters to come together to figure out what’s working, what’s not, and what new ideas we should consider. Char Delapena, Chair of the URx Conference, crystallized this perfectly,
“Historically, partnerships between companies and universities have been transactional and partnerships between recruiters at different companies non-existent. Through URx, we’re seeing those relationships become possible and transformational. Both groups are able to leverage URx to build stronger partnerships and create more effective recruiting opportunities for students.”
We see a huge opportunity for more, deeper partnerships and view URx as a bridge that supports making them happen.
A Group of Students on the Outside Looking In
Universities and companies are investing a lot of energy into their initiatives with the goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in the workforce. These initiatives typically focus on identifying talented and experienced students at a core selection of schools. We’ve been privileged to partner with several institutions to make this happen.
What we’ve learned is that at scale, there are a ton of hungry and talented students with some skill / experience gaps falling through the cracks. It is difficult for any one company, despite their zeal for diversity, to truly increase the talent pool of qualified diverse tech talent. As a business, companies have to focus their time and efforts on talent that is already ramped up and qualified. This leaves a large group of incredible students who don’t know what it takes or what it’s like to work in a technical role at a tech company. Worse, we’ve found there are students who don’t know it is a reality they can pursue.
These students on the outside, looking in at some of the best opportunities in the workforce are overwhelmingly from lower socio-economic backgrounds and are the first in their families to attend college. These are students who don’t have the personal and familial networks that fill the gaps the way they do for students from majority groups or privileged backgrounds.
We see the ripple effect, particularly in the tech industry, of this gap displayed in the workforce diversity data released by tech companies. Companies are facing a situation where the representation of underrepresented employees is not only low, but is not growing at a pace that would lead to any real change.
We’re Bridging the Gap
URx is working to bridge this gap. Through TalentBoard, we are making an investment in identifying talented underrepresented students by introducing them to careers in tech, inspiring them to pursue opportunities AND supporting them in closing any skills / experience gaps in partnership with organizations like ColorStack and Rewriting the Code.
Companies and universities can develop relationships that lead to partnerships through our community and the URx Conference. Companies also have the opportunity to partner with us at every stage of the recruiting life cycle, giving them the ability to align with their various business priorities and resources.
There is a network effect that occurs as our community grows. This takes place as more companies and universities join us; as we welcome new partners; as more students learn about transformational opportunities and gain the skills to acquire them. The talent pool will increase, and our workforce will become more diverse and inclusive. That is my belief and this is what drives me.
Going into our fourth year, we’re focused on empowering our community, turning connections into bridges, and creating opportunities for impact. We have a big vision for URx, and I believe the impact of our success will be even bigger. If you are reading this, I hope to partner with you along this journey.