Workforce Equity: Engaging Employers in the Solution

Workforce Pilot

Talent acquisition and retention continue to plague companies post-pandemic in ways that are, simply put, bad for business. Some 92 percent of C-level leaders say their companies will not meet 2022 goals if record quit rates and hiring challenges continue. A commitment to equity can help address this challenge by strengthening organizational culture and attracting and retaining talent.

Understanding the Impact

In Fall 2021, the Business Equity for Indy (BEI) Learning & Talent Taskforce published a report that revealed shocking disparities in Indianapolis for Black students and other students of color. Key findings include:

  • In Marion County, about 7 percent of Black third through eighth-graders passed both parts of ILEARN, compared with 10 percent of Hispanic/Latino students and 34 percent of white students.
  • Nearly one in four Black high school graduates received a waiver diploma in the 2018-19 class, the highest rate in at least a decade. Black students also are less likely to graduate with an honors diploma.
  • About half of Black high school graduates in Marion County go on to enroll in a postsecondary institution, 11 percentage points lower than white students. On-time completion at four-year institutions for Black students has steadily increased to 35 percent, but that’s still behind white students (45 percent).
  • Indiana’s public postsecondary institutions awarded 10,000 degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to white students in the most recent cohort. For Black students, that number is less than 700.

While education and workforce disparities have plagued communities like Indianapolis for years, through Business Equity for Indy, community leaders are taking collective action to assemble resources, engage employers, and partner with schools and other community organizations to provide intentional supports for Black and Brown students.

Assembling the Tools

The Learning & Talent Taskforce has taken a multi-faceted approach to assemble, create, and introduce tools that can help companies build equity efforts within their respective industries and organizations.

Step One: Identify employer recommendations.

Phase one recommendations from the Learning & Talent Taskforce fall into three categories:

  1. Early Learning
  2. K-12
  3. Postsecondary

We invite you to explore these categories and the employer recommendations on the BEI website.

Step Two: Showcase employers already acting.

Through the Learning & Talent Opportunities Summit, companies can virtually hear from business leaders across the nine-county Indy region who are taking action to improve equity. The three-part webinar, which can be viewed at any time, provides greater detail about how and why companies are making investments to support Black and Brown talent.

Step Three: Build a comprehensive database.

As companies and leaders take steps towards equity, they’ll likely encounter various questions and needs along the way. When those times arise, we invite them to explore the Learning & Talent Program Database, which houses over 200 education and workforce development programs in Marion County.

These resources are free to access any time on the BEI website and support companies in their equity efforts.

Engaging Employers

A commitment to improving equity is contingent upon support from Indy’s regional business, which is why today, BEI has announced the launch of a Workforce Pilot. The intensive, two-year cohort is designed to assist companies with adopting evidence-based strategies alongside industry experts that will reduce disparities, drive equity, and support companies’ talent strategies. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation is pleased to help support the pilot with a $600,000 grant over two years.

The Workforce Pilot will host 30 small- to medium-sized companies and will launch in the fall of 2022. Participating companies will complete a five-stage program with guidance from subject matter and technical experts. Companies interested in applying for the Workforce Pilot are encouraged to review the program expectations before applying. Applications are due by August 31, 2022, and accepted companies will be notified by mid-September.

BEI is working to support Indianapolis-area companies in their efforts to address education and workforce disparities impacting Black individuals and other people of color. In partnership with schools, universities and colleges, and the non-profit sector, employers can play a critical role in helping to address racial disparities while also better meeting each company’s talent needs. I invite you to learn more about our work and to join the effort to create a more inclusive Indy region.

Claire Fiddian Green
Blog authored by Claire Fiddian Green, president & CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and Business Equity for Indy’s Learning & Talent Taskforce Co-Chair.

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