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Target's recruiting approach enables diverse workforce

Wednesday, May 19, 2010  
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Target Corp.'s methodical approach to talent acquisition has led to women and other underrepresented groups holding nearly 22 percent of the retailer's 28,000 salaried employees, according to a report by DiversityInc. Of the more than 3,000 people hired into salaried positions last year, 29 percent were diverse.

"Simply put, diverse talent helps us be first in class," Alicia Petross, Target's diversity team talent manager, told attendees at a March 2010 DiveristyInc learning event.

As the chain looks forward to opening its first Manhattan store this summer, Petross told attendees she is very confident the store's leadership will reflect the community. "We have structured talent routines and we leverage our business partners to understand needs, understand the community and help drive our talent acquisition efforts and point us to places where we can find the right talent," she explained. "We are very methodical about attracting, interviewing and, of course, retaining." Petross said the key to inclusive hiring is being "extremely realistic and have a plan."

Recruiting at Target, which is number 40 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, involves these fundamentals, Petross said:

Establishing a plan. "What are the hiring goals?," Petross asked. "At Target, we are not focused on quotas, we are focused on relationships. [We] continue to develop relationships with historically diverse colleges and universities, which enables us to build a pipeline while deliberately targeting diverse leaders."

Other questions to ask when establishing a recruiting and hiring plan include: How do your goals further the company's mission? What's the industry representation? What's the sourcing strategy? Is it inclusive? How are business partners playing a role in the recruitment process?

Gaining commitment. Target's Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel is actively involved in talent planning at all levels, from incoming interns to senior executives, Petross noted. "Once we have top leadership buy-in," she said, "everyone else understands that [diversity recruitment] is a business imperative."

Leveraging the right sources. Petross and her team leverage sources such as postings on DiversityInc Careers and the National Black MBA Association, National Society of Hispanic MBAs and INROADS, which develops and places promising diverse talent in salaried corporate internships.

The chain's sourcing strategy also includes a robust internal referral program, DiversityInc reported. For each new candidate hired at Target, the referring team member becomes eligible to win a $1,000 company gift card. "I know referrals work because that's how I started at Target 10 years ago," Petross said.

Communicating the brand and delivering on its promise. "When you're working with diverse talent, it's extremely important to cement them to the corporate culture and values," Petross said at the DiversityInc event. Target, which donates $3 million each week to the communities where it does business, found its philanthropy helps the chain connect with future leaders.

Measuring results. A recruiting scorecard, which tallies goals, current headcount, expected open positions, applicants in the queue and days to hire, keeps diversity an integrated part of Target's process, Petross said. "Measuring results should help you recognize when your efforts are paying off."