2020 saw a surge in social activism that made companies around the globe - including Robert Half - take a closer look at how they're helping advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the business world and consider how to amplify those efforts. As a leading talent solutions firm and Fortune 500 company, Robert Half has long understood that it has the power to help create opportunities for underrepresented communities.
Positive change starts from within, which is why we have focused on deepening our DEI efforts over the past year. This work has led to the development of both new and expanded alliances with nonprofit organizations focused on driving equity.
Three of our alliances are doing critical work in the Black community. In advance of Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19, we wanted to share details about that ongoing work - and on other progress Robert Half has made to help support the Black community and advance our DEI efforts over the past year.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Learn more about the history of this day at Juneteenth.com.
National Association of Black Accountants (NABA)
Robert Half has been working with NABA since 1997. This nonprofit association represents more than 200,000 Black professionals in furthering their professional goals in the fields of accounting, finance and business. NABA's student members are served through the association's 200 chapters around the country.
Our company provides a scholarship to NABA members and participates in the association's annual convention. And over the past year, we've grown our relationship with NABA through increased chapter and conference sponsorships, as well as career fairs.
Also, during Black History Month, Herschel Frierson, chairman of NABA's Board of Directors, joined members of Robert Half's Black Employee Network (BEN), a recently formed Employee Network Group (ENG) at the company, for a fireside chat about creating more diverse workplaces and how to be an inclusive leader. (Learn more about BEN and our ENG program later in this post.)
Through our partnership with NABA, Robert Half is making valuable connections that support our efforts to diversify our workforce. 'Our partnership with NABA can help us attract more diverse talent internally and externally, which will have a significant and lasting impact on our teams, our company and our customers,' says Josh Howarth, Robert Half district president, who is leading our partnership with NABA as an executive sponsor.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
In late 2020, Robert Half launched an alliance with NSBE, with an emphasis on workforce development. NSBE, founded in 1975, is one of the largest student-governed organizations in the United States. It has more than 24,000 members and 600 chapters.
Our company is working closely with NSBE to build a pool of diverse talent, including supporting career fairs at the regional and national level. We also post internal and client job openings on the NSBE website. Additionally, in April 2021, Robert Half joined the 47th annual NSBE Convention by sponsoring the Career Fair Prep Center and hosting a booth.
Katherine Spencer Lee, operational president at Robert Half, is an executive sponsor of this partnership and a longtime advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. 'Engaging with NSBE provides an opportunity to use our company's resources to support NSBE's mission to increase the number of Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community,' she says.
National Urban League (NUL)
Robert Half's partnership with NUL also began in late 2020. NUL supports many programs designed to address social inequality and racial injustice. Our key focus areas for partnering with NUL include career services, community involvement and volunteerism.
Our company is also exploring workforce development opportunities, such as offering technical skills training to job seekers. And in April 2021, we hosted a webinar as part of NUL's Jobs Network Digital Career Success Series, titled Bridging the Gap, which focused on the importance of developing a 'beginner's mindset' to thrive among a diverse workforce.
Robert Half district director Billie Moliere leads our company's alliance with NUL as an executive sponsor. Moliere first connected with NUL many years ago through her community and social justice involvement while practicing law in Louisiana, which she says allowed her to work directly with underrepresented constituencies.
'Robert Half's alliance with NUL is of particular importance to me because of the organization's unique mission, breadth and scope of resources to address social and economic challenges impacting underserved communities,' Moliere says. 'It's an example of how good deeds, citizenship and a focus on humanity benefit us all.'
Robert Half's first official ENG: the Black Employee Network
In 2020, we faced social injustice and violence, compounded by our battle against a global pandemic. It has become more important for Robert Half to focus on creating and fostering a sense of community throughout our organization.
But even before the disruption of 2020, our DEI team had been working hard to create a framework for structuring employee resource groups across the business. And last year, we introduced our ENGs based on that framework. ENGs are communities organically created around a common purpose, interest or background. They're led and represented by employees from traditionally underrepresented groups and include other Robert Half employees who wish to be allies and support these groups.
The first official ENG to form at Robert Half was the Black Employee Network (BEN). Three Robert Half employees organized and launched BEN last summer, including Kacey Jones, manager of leadership development.
'It's been amazing to have a community of people come together to talk about issues affecting Black people,' says Jones. 'BEN has completely erased the feelings of isolation that I've felt being a Black employee in corporate America. Being involved in BEN has been such a benefit to my employee experience. It's connected me to colleagues I likely never would have interacted with … and involved me in projects that speak to my head and my heart, so I truly feel like I'm bringing my best self to work.'
Around the same time that BEN launched, employees in our Bloomington, Minnesota, office introduced a group called Be the Change. That group has since joined forces with BEN and now has executive sponsorship from Katherine Spencer Lee and Robert Half senior vice president and chief technology officer James Johnson.
A reflection on freedom
The alliances and activities outlined above are just some of the ways that Robert Half is working every day to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organizational culture and workforce. One recent internal effort, inspired by Juneteenth - which is also known as Freedom Day - was to ask our employees what freedom means to them.
We received many thoughtful - and thought-provoking - responses to that question, including from James McField, a Robert Half branch manager in Washington, D.C.:
'From freedom comes opportunity. Because those ahead of me have fought for freedom, I have been afforded opportunity. Opportunity to love whomever I desire, live wherever I want and be judged equally amongst my peers of varied backgrounds. Freedom means my experience, work and contributions to society will be considered and celebrated because of their merit alone. Freedom means that I have the same opportunity to create generational wealth as my counterparts of other race and creed.'
More about our work to promote DEI
As a global organization, Robert Half recognizes the importance of having a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences represented throughout the company. This includes people of different ethnicities, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, physical abilities, ages, educational backgrounds, social classes and beyond.
Visit the Diversity and Inclusion page on the Robert Half website to learn more about our deep and ongoing commitment to promote DEI at our company.