As the owner of Pam & Co, an Engineering and Technical Recruiting firm I see the need for diversity play out daily. I am not just a recruiter, but also a chemical engineer and person of color. My perspective on this topic is drawn from all those experiences.

Diversity comes in many forms from people, product, education, experience and more. We live in a global economy where businesses spend a lot of marketing dollars and hours figuring out how to tap into market segments. They literally are studying on how to pivot the product to a segment of the market. However, when it comes to the people talent of the organization (for some), it is an afterthought. It may be in response to Black History Month or Women’s History Monty or being called out on social media. It could be about showing diversity metrics to secure a particular client or government contract. While it will bring diversity to an organization, why not incorporate it into an overall business strategy. Diversity is not just about skin color, it is also about education, experience, and location. So, you see “Diversity” itself is quite diverse.

Recruiting from a diverse pool – people, education, location …

Early in my career, my supervisor recommended I take the lead on the department’s Summer Internship Program. I was thrilled. Here I am a new engineer with a Fortune 100 company, newly promoted to Engineer Supervisor and being asked to lead this important department’s initiative. I was just 2 years out of university and though I had a world of knowledge to share with these incoming interns. My task was to figure out which engineering universities I would contact, get resumes, conduct the interviews, create a short list and then present that to the division’s director.  Many of my colleagues and managers sort of joked saying “sure hire the interns, but just know they have to come from ABC school because that is where our director is from”. Apparently, the unspoken rule is this is where all interns must come from for our department. A large percentage of our full-time engineering hires were also from this school. Turns out I was one of the few exceptions to that rule. But I am a rule breaker, so I professed that hires will only come from ABC school if they make my shortlist. I plan on recruiting for what best suits our department’s needs. I am happy to say I bucked the “department’s rule” and hired a great group of interns from a variety of schools and states with my Director’s approval. Four of our interns were subsequently offered full time roles upon graduation. I applauded my director and direct manager, in being open to my process and allowing me to demonstrate why I thought these were the applicants to go forward with.

Reaping the benefits of pushing our comfort zone

It is easy to do what has always been done and not push our comfort zone. My director embraced my process and our engineering department benefitted. I am a firm believer that it is prudent to diversify where you normally recruit from. If we insist on going to the same engineering school or source, then we will get more of the same. All the students took the same classes, with the same professors, in the same labs, and with the same experiments. If we are going for innovative and out of the box thinking, then we need to apply that to our hires on all fronts: race, education, location, and experience.

We are in and becoming more of a global and remote workforce. Here at Pam & Co, we work to deliver the best qualified candidates for our client’s open roles. We are engineers who previously hired talent for our organization and are keenly aware of bias that can exist. We take our whole experience and put that to work for you in finding the best qualified talent. What are some of your organization’s talent acquisition best practices?

This article was published by Pamela M. DiMarzio, BSChE, DFSS. Pam holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from NYU-Polytechnic School of Engineering (Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY) and worked in a variety of industries before founding Pam & Co, an engineering recruiting and staffing firm.

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