Employers committed to making Milwaukee a Region of Choice for diverse talent remain on track to reach goals
MMAC coalition of companies significantly outpaces metro average for diverse hiring
MILWAUKEE – A group of 125-plus Milwaukee Region employers engaged in the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Region of Choice consortium remain on track to meet five-year goals for recruiting, retaining and advancing Black and Brown employees – and are significantly outpacing the overall region’s rate of diverse hiring.
Since launching the Region of Choice (ROC) initiative in 2019, MMAC has tracked the progress of the 125-plus companies and organizations representing a total of 127,000 employees that have committed to making Milwaukee a Region of Choice for diverse talent by increasing the percentages of Black and Brown employees (by 15% over five years) and managers (by 25% over five years) at those firms. Companies involved in ROC also meet regularly to identify trends and share best practices.
Companies reported their employment data for 2021 in October, and the aggregate data show that the ROC companies are on pace to meet or have already met goals for an increase in the percentage of Black and Brown hiring in overall employment and for management positions. Companies participating in this consortium also are hiring employees from diverse backgrounds at a rate well ahead of the larger group of Milwaukee Region firms that report their diverse hiring data to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.)
For overall employment, the ROC companies’ goal is 15% growth in Black and Brown talent, expressed as a percentage of overall employment, over five years and using 2018 as the baseline year. Through 2021, the ROC companies had 12.3% growth in Black and Brown talent as a percentage of overall employment.
The ROC consortium’s growth of 12.3% significantly outpaced the 1.7% growth in diverse hiring for all metro employers reporting EEOC data through 2020. All companies with more than 50 employees must report demographics of their workforce and in management positions.
For management-level employees, the ROC goal is 25% growth in Black and Brown representation in management, expressed as a percentage of overall management over five years. Again, we are measuring this growth is over the 2018 baseline. Through 2021, the ROC companies had 26% growth in Black and Brown management as a percentage of overall management – meaning that companies met their five-year goal in this area ahead of schedule, and hope to exceed it.
This 26% growth in management-level representation compares to 6% growth for all metro Milwaukee employers reporting EEOC data for the same period through 2020.
“This year’s data confirm a trend toward greater representation,” said Cathy Jacobson, MMAC Chair and President and CEO of Froedtert Health. “Increasing overall employment and management positions for Black and Brown individuals is critical to closing economic prosperity gaps in the Milwaukee region, while strengthening the performance of our organizations.”
While the data is trending in the right direction, MMAC Vice President of Community Affairs Corry Joe Biddle emphasized that there is much more work to do – both in our workplaces and in our communities – to create sustainable change for people of color in Milwaukee.
“Companies and talent acknowledge that hiring is only the beginning of an employee’s lifecycle,” Biddle said. “Attention must be paid to retention, development and advancement in order for more Black and Brown individuals to rise to positions of leadership. Otherwise, we will always have the situation where a person of color is the ‘only’ in the room.”
MMAC convenes representatives from the ROC companies and the community to share and discuss strategies aimed at all of the above. “One company does not have all the answers, but among our 125-plus companies, there are a lot of great ideas, programs and playbooks,” Biddle said.
MMAC holds regular programs, both online and in person, for company leaders to learn from peers and subject matter experts. Additional resources can be found on www.regionofchoicemke.org
CEOs who signed the pledge are asked to annually share progress and challenges.
“I am encouraged by the progress companies in the ROC consortium are making, knowing that there is still much work to do” said Jonas Prising, president and CEO of ManpowerGroup and former MMAC Chair. “When we committed to this strategy four years ago, we hoped it would be a catalyst for change. As we look forward, we need to accelerate the momentum and ultimately close the prosperity and opportunity gaps for people of color.”
According to the Harvard Business Review, it is vitally important for companies to not just track demographic outcomes, but to examine process metrics, “which can pinpoint problems such as hiring, evaluation, and executive sponsorship … process metrics will tell you where to focus your attention to bring about meaningful change.”
“Everyone describes the DEI process as a journey,” MMAC President Tim Sheehy said. “As a business community and as a region, we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
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