This month we are highlighting our Diversity Best Practices member, Allstate, which has partnered with OneTen in the goal of providing one million jobs to Black individuals over the next 10 years. OneTen is a coalition of industry leaders committed to ensuring Black talent has the skills and aptitude to achieve success through skills-first training and opportunities. We sat down and spoke with Robi Nevers, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Allstate, to learn more about how the company is working to meet the goal, how the coalition fits into their broader corporate strategy, and what they need from external partners.
What is Allstate’s approach to support OneTen’s goal of one million jobs for Black individuals?
Robi Nevers: Allstate is taking a three-pronged approach to supporting OneTen’s initiative, based around apprenticeships, skills-first hiring and employer city leads.
We piloted an apprenticeship a couple of years ago, with a small cybersecurity cohort in our Charlotte talent center, and plan to greatly broaden the program in January 2022. The apprenticeship program is really about working with community college students who are just starting to pursue a degree or certification and bringing them into apprenticeships, allowing them to earn a salary and receive formal on-the-job training. Right now, we’re meeting with various Allstate business units to expand into other areas—like Enterprise Technology and Human Resources—which have already committed to fostering an apprentice program. We are quite excited to expand the program to our hometown of Chicago, while building a larger group in Charlotte.
The second initiative is focused on Skills-First Hiring, or employing candidates based on their skills and capabilities, rather than focusing on degrees or credentials. OneTen, in concert with an external vendor, has built a really great technology platform to connect potential candidates to companies in the coalition. Also, we’ve identified talent developers who are now actively helping individuals without a four-year degree build the evolving skills companies need. There are a wide variety of different talent developer organizations available, such as certification programs, vocational programs, and a plethora of online learning. These talent developers use the technology platform’s artificial intelligence to identify and introduce the talent to OneTen, matching ideal candidates to open roles. Companies in the coalition are also identifying roles throughout our organizations that have traditionally required a four-year degree. We’re then challenging our business areas to say, “do they really need a four-year degree? Can we remove that requirement? Can we look at individuals’ skills and capabilities and their potential to excel in this area? What skills are required, and which skills are preferred?” The technology portal is still in its early stages and we’re just starting to see candidates match to our open positions, a promising way to tap into new pools of talent.
Our third track of work under OneTen is as a leading employer in Chicago. Our CEO is one of OneTen’s Chicago co-leads, which is super exciting because this is Allstate’s hometown. We are also committed to leading a virtual work environment, allowing employees outside of rich job markets to work virtually, opening up massive opportunities for applicants. Instead of making employees come to the company, we can connect with and hire talent where they live and thrive. Within these local talent markets, like Chicago, the roles of the companies in the coalition are really about engaging and inspiring more corporations to join the coalition, which is probably pushing close to 50 companies now. It’s also about finding those talent developers and integrating them into OneTen’s ecosystem. Finally, it’s important to engage local communities and governments, raising awareness of OneTen. We are trying to get the word out there, and it’s also important to build the local infrastructure to support OneTen’s success.
Is this work with OneTen in a specific pillar of your corporate strategy? Where do you see it positioned within the company in terms of the strategic business focus?
RN: Our work with OneTen is interesting because it does cross multiple pillars. It is part of our diversity supplier strategy as well as our DEI strategy. As we work with our diverse supply partners, we are able to influence them to investigate their own employer practices, and the talent that they hire into what OneTen considers middle-skill jobs at a family-sustaining wage. It’s part of Allstate’s talent acquisition strategy to increase diverse representation across our company. I also think it’s part of our corporate social responsibility to serve our communities more effectively by providing opportunities to these talent pools and building the future workforce to look more like the communities we serve.
How are you measuring your success or impact? How is it going to impact the ability to move talent to some of the most senior levels of your positions?
RN: We’re already starting to track and measure the number of external hires and internal advancement into these middle-skill roles. It’s not just about bringing in external talent, but also looking at our existing talent who don’t have four-year degrees, providing them with training and education to prepare them for more advanced roles. We will be measuring increases in representation of Black talent across all levels. We’ll use engagement, advancement, retention and performance as the leading indicators of success.
We also want to ensure we’re supporting these individuals after they are hired. One thing we previously saw with our apprenticeship program, in some cases, is that these are individuals dealing with life issues like childcare or transportation while attending both work and school. These existing employees greatly benefit from additional internal coaching and mentoring, as well as external wrap-around services provided by a third-party vendor. Allstate empowers various Employee Resource Groups across the organization to provide support and a connection to other employees like them. We’re really looking to create a cohort feel where we can connect the individuals coming in through these programs, giving them that extra support through lunch-and-learns, helping them build professional skills, and helping them navigate some of the challenges they may face being in the workplace. We want to make sure they have the right level of training and support to prepare them for job opportunities at the next level.
What do you need from your external partners so that they can support you and the work that Allstate is doing in this space?
As I think about external partners, it’s about building their awareness of the OneTen mission and their assistance in connecting talent to OneTen companies. I think there are many opportunities right now that people don’t know about. Employees don’t know where to go to get this type of support or to have opportunities like this in a professional setting, so that they don’t have to go to work in fast food or retail or some other areas where they may not have a clearly-defined career path. Our work with OneTen provides a clear path to employees where we can help them develop and build skills, offer benefits, and education. It’s connecting that talent to us that wouldn’t otherwise know about these opportunities. Externally, that’s where local government, talent developers, schools, etc., can really help us in this space.