Build Closer Relationships With Students Through ERGs

As future workforce demographics in the United States continue to shift, many organizations rightly see big opportunities to increase their short-term general population and future senior-level diversity through entry-level hires. Some of these companies are also beginning to realize what recent studies have revealed: Using grade point average (GPA) results alone to blindly pick from among possible candidates is probably not be the best way to determine who will be fully engaged and provide outstanding performance in their organizations.

For example, one study in this area noted that its analysis “revealed that student grade point average was generally not a good predictor of early career progress.” Another study exploring the impact of grade point average and other criteria on adult achievement noted that the findings of the research “may be somewhat discouraging to those who place a great deal of importance on the predictive value of grades.”

In response, a few savvy organizations are aggressively addressing their search for diverse, engaged, promising and high-performing candidates by leveraging their ERG members. Relatively speaking, the results have, in many cases, been high-touch efforts that have come at low-investment price tags. For example, here is a quick look at how easily one company did this:

1. University relations working with the office of diversity prepared a list of targeted schools by geography. They also identified student clubs with members that belonged to various demographics that already existed in these schools. These included the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. (You can also find similar types of clubs for other professionals such as the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, commonly known as ALPFA).

2. Next, university relations and the office of diversity met with ERG leaders to elicit their help in identifying people in their groups close to the target schools who wanted to be mentors for these students and ambassadors for their companies through these clubs. Ideally, they were also alumni of the target school.

3. Once ERG members were identified and mapped to each school and club, the selected group was provided with mentoring training.

4. After this training was completed, the university relations team scheduled and hosted a networking pizza party for the student club members and the ERG representatives assigned to their club at their school so they could meet.

5. ERG members used these pizza “meet-and-greets” to get to know the students better and to approach those they would like to mentor.

6. ERG members maintained these mentoring relationships over the phone, thus building trust, driving value to the schools and the students, and making the students more familiar with internship and job opportunities at their companies.

Leveraging the passions of their ERGs, in this type of high-touch, low-cost program is just the beginning of what smart companies can do to create relationships with their future workforce. If your organization is not leveraging its ERGs in this manner, perhaps you can supply that needed nudge in the right direction.