How to Develop a Diverse Workforce: Discover EY

January 1, 2014 4:27 am

By Debby Scheinholtz

Discover EY

Weinberger and Ryan Kist, Americas Inclusiveness Recruiting Consultant, at Discover EY

Clients of accounting and professional-services firms expect diverse teams to service them, reflecting their own workforces. Yet according to a 2013 report, just 7.2 percent of students enrolled in accounting bachelor’s degree programs are Black and 8.4 percent are Latino.

How are firms closing the gap?

For EY, a firm that will recruit 7,000 undergraduates in the United States this year, comprehensive campus-outreach efforts have helped raise the share of Black, Latino and Native American campus recruits to 36 percent.

How EY (No. 4 in the DiversityInc Top 50) does it:

Engage students early and introduce them to leaders. Discover EY is an annual three-day event that brings more than 150 students from 64 campuses to New York City, where they participate in team-building exercises, leadership seminars, networking opportunities and conversations with EY’s top leaders, including Global Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger.

Mark Weinberger, Nancy Altobello, EY

Weinberger, Altobello

Weinberger, who will be speaking at the DiversityInc Top 50 event in April, told students at Discover EY that the firm seeks to build high-performance teams. He added that research has proven that the most productive teams are both diverse and inclusive. He stressed that EY employees need to be committed to the firm’s goal of “Building a Better Working World,” noting that “thinking about the difference you’re making in the world makes a big difference when you’re working very hard.”

Provide students with role models. University of Texas sophomore Javier Garcia, a first-generation college student, attended this year’s Discover EY. He said the speakers gave him confidence that there were others in the firm who had come from backgrounds like his. “They talked about the struggles they’ve had and how they found mentors—they were very inspiring and made me think that if I follow in this person’s path, I can end up in this person’s role.”

Offer opportunities early. Garcia will participate in the firm’s LAUNCH program beginning this summer. LAUNCH interns are two or more years from graduation and gain experience in different areas of the firm’s business over three summers. Participants attend training sessions introducing EY’s business culture and technology. Each summer, they learn about different service lines, and they are also provided with a peer advisor or mentor.

Nancy Altobello, EY’s Americas Vice Chair, Talent, says the LAUNCH program’s multiyear structure allows interns to be well prepared and primed for success when they become full-time hires.

Work closely with faculty. In conjunction with Discover EY this year, the firm invited 25 faculty and administrators from more than 20 top undergraduate business schools to the Campus Diversity and Inclusiveness Roundtable to discuss ways to drive diversity and inclusiveness.

EY maintains a strong, hands-on presence on campus for several of the programs presented:

  • The Cornell Men of Color seminar, a one-credit course that covers networking and developing leadership presence and explores the impact of stereotype threat in the workplace. Attendees also hear from EY leadership on the business imperative for diversity.
  • The St. Thomas of Villanova Scholars, a three-week summer program for students to take college-level courses and connect with university faculty and administrators before starting their freshman year. Melinda German, Associate Dean of the Villanova School of Business, said that EY, a corporate sponsor, and the EY Inclusiveness Recruiting Team, led by Americas Director Ken Bouyer, were extremely engaged in the 2013 program, attending an Etiquette Dinner for participants and opening EY’s Philadelphia office for students to visit.
  • The University of Washington’s Young Executives of Color Program (YEOC), a monthly Saturday academy where current business-school students gather to mentor high-school students. More than 66 percent of the high-school participants are first-generation college students.  The curriculum focuses on team building, branding/marketing, finance and visits from firms including EY and client firms that EY has brought in, such as Nike.
  • The importance of educating parents: Altobello, who has spent time with parents of the YEOC students, says many make sacrifices to travel with their children to the university campus once a month—and she wants to make sure they understand the value in what they’re doing. “These are well-paying jobs with good benefits and strong development opportunities,” she says.