Image and inertia are creating barriers to building a world-class, diverse professional workforce in the Kanawha Valley.
That’s among the key findings of a first-of-its-kind research project released the Charleston Area Alliance.
The study, called MAGNET: Managing, Attracting and Growing New and Existing Talent, was undertaken to identify issues that impact recruitment and retentions of minority professionals in our region.
Research findings and recommendations for the future will be the focus of the Alliance’s next “inclusion=innovation” luncheon program, to be held at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at B’nai Jacob Synagogue, 1599 Virginia Street East.
Speakers will include:
- Jeff James, Mythology Marketing CEO and lead researcher on the project
- Crystal Good, director of brand experience at Mythology
- John Gianola, Ernst & Young
- Representatives from Spilman, Thomas & Battle, a lead partner on the research initiative
- Rabbi Victor Urecki
Register to attend the event HERE.
Registration is $15 per person through Friday, Nov. 23. Prices increase to $25 per person after that date.
“Business today is driven by innovation, which depends on attracting and retaining top talent,” said Alliance Senior Vice President JoEllen Zacks.
“Companies and our communities lose out if real or perceived barriers prevent them from recruiting the best and the brightest to the Kanawha Valley. Our region competes globally for jobs, capital and people, and the welcome mat must be out to all if we are to be successful.”
The MAGNET study also found that:
- The image of the Kanawha Valley presents challenges in recruiting. Perceptions of West Virginia among those outside the state are negative or neutral. “We heard directly from corporate recruiters that it is more difficult to ‘sell’ the Valley within the context of West Virginia’s image,” said Zacks.
- A significant lack of minority professional and business “infrastructure” (social activities, personal care items and services, etc.) creates a chicken-and-egg problem.
- The same issues that negatively impact retention of young professionals, such as a lack of quality housing and limited cultural, social and entertainment amenities, impact minority talent.
- The Kanawha Valley has solid historical and current assets to build upon that could attract minority professionals (including the legacy of Leon Sullivan, West Virginia State University and a strong network of diverse houses of worship).
The MAGNET project is part of the Alliance’s ‘inclusion=innovation’ initiative sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services that is dedicated to leveraging diverse and inclusive ways of thinking to continue delivering high quality work for clients around the world.
“Top talent comes in different packages,” said John Gianola, the managing partner of Ernst & Young LLP’s Charleston office.
“Diverse teams help create the best ideas and solutions — but only if we’ve established an inclusive culture that supports each person in contributing fully to our success. This means valuing the differences and contributions of people from all backgrounds and perspectives. By collaborating with other organizations, we seek to be at the forefront in reflecting and advancing the diversity and inclusiveness of the communities where we operate. That is why we are excited to be a part of this initiative.”
Spilman, Thomas & Battle, long committed to diversity, provided lead sponsorship support for the MAGNET project.
“We compete in an ever-expanding marketplace for talent. No enterprise or law firm, Spilman or other, exists in a vacuum. If we are to continue to thrive, it is imperative that we are able to recruit the best and brightest of every race, age, gender, faith and lifestyle to a community that is diverse, vibrant and open. That’s what today’s young professionals expect and demand. Those are the stakes,” explained Spilman Member Ned Rugeley, Chair of Recruiting.
“We will immediately begin to look at ways to incorporate the key insights from this research into our recruiting and overall management at Spilman. We are pleased to be involved in this important research, and I’m excited about what it will mean to the future of our region.”
“The MAGNET project will take the Alliance’s ‘inclusion=innovation’ initiative to the next level by providing solid data upon which we can direct future efforts to attract and retain diverse young professionals and ensure our businesses and our region stay competitive in a global marketplace,” said Zacks.