Creative Solutions Through Diversity - Future at Work Leadership Network
LeadersUp - Future at Work Leadership Network

Creative Solutions Through Diversity

Jeffery Wallace Jan 28, 2018

On the 17th floor of LinkedIn’s headquarters overlooking San Francisco’s city skyline, nine business and human resources leaders from varying industries gathered to talk about diversity—in a city with an economic and moral imperative to ensure all of its citizens can contribute to and benefit from its unbelievable rapid growth.

Featured speakers at the inaugural Future at Work Leadership Network spoke urgently about putting plans into action for diverse career pathways that meet their talent needs while also strengthening the communities their business operated in. “Investing in the right training, with the right people who want to work for us, is important,” explained Tyler Ricks, president of Noah’s New York Bagels, during his talk with business peers. This new collective, The Future at Work Leadership Network, joins forward-thinking companies to help close the skills gap and create sustainable career pathways among employers and Opportunity Youth, with a focus on Young Men of Color (YMoC) in the Bay Area. It is powered by Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership, Prudential, The Irvine Foundation, and receives pro-bono support from Monitor Deloitte, a multinational strategy consulting firm.

Tyler Ricks went on to discuss how Noah’s has faced staffing challenges in the Bay Area and, due to a lack of staffing, has had to close down multiple store locations. Micah Weinberg, from Bay Area Council Economic Institute, shared with the group: “People won’t get excited [to work] if they think they’re going to get displaced.” With expressions of concern, many in the room sought answers to the following questions: How do companies achieve greater diversity in hiring, and how can we create a culture of intentional learning in our workplaces?

Why Diversity Matters

Deloitte’s latest Global Human Capital Trends report finds that 78% of its respondents believe diversity and inclusion is a competitive advantage. Today, the San Francisco Bay Area has taken the No. 1 position for U.S. regions with the largest skills gap. So, if you take the most unemployed sector of the workforce, which happens to be young men of color—and train them to stay on successful career pathways—you are solving two major problems at the same time: shrinking the skills gap and increasing the multicultural talent pool, both of which employers need to compete in the global economy.

Building sustainable career pathways for young adults is not the sole reason that employers gathered for this event. This also marked the inaugural convening of employer partners since the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP) Career Pathway Summit was held last October in Oakland. LeadersUp is a proud member of BAYEP along with the Bay Area Council, PolicyLink, United Way Bay Area, and the Urban Strategies Council. With the support of committed partners, we connected more than 300 YMoC to employment opportunities and professional development resources in the Bay Area. We also made a promise to ensure that those young adults didn’t just get “placed” into a job, but were also connected to a pathway that would allow them to advance in their chosen careers.

In 2018, The Future at Work Leadership Network will convene business leaders to help distill the insights gained from the BAYEP Career Pathway Summit to effectively champion and support employers working to cultivate diverse talent pipelines and apply those findings in real time within their companies.

With 40% of companies struggling to fill jobs, and 75% of all entry-level annual salaries equating to the cost of replacing those same workers, finding skilled talent from communities living on the margins of society is not charity work. Instead, it is a competitive advantage for businesses that want to build a racially and culturally diverse consumer base and compete in the increasingly diverse global economy. The 5.3 million young people who are unemployed represent our nation’s missing middle class and our future workforce.

When considering improvements to your Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, we recommend you remember three key takeaways:

1. Have a clear and defined strategy to improve diversity and inclusion in your organization, starting from the upper management. Programs should be inclusive to all levels.

2. Create a learning culture that teaches new employees critical skills: working on a team; developing leadership; improving communication skills; and how to give a presentation.

3. Develop managers: invest in millennial talent because 70% of them don’t believe they’re receiving leadership training. This can strengthen employee morale and create ambassadors for your company.

For additional findings from the BAYEP Career Pathway Summit and on developing inclusive hiring practices, download the latest report here.

To attend the next Future at Work Leadership Network or learn more about LeadersUp, sign up for additional info here.

In service,


Jeffery Wallace

President & CEO, LeadersUp

About the Author

Jeffery Wallace

Jeffery T. D. Wallace, President and CEO, LeadersUp