Partner Panel Discusses Innovative Recruitment and Retention Strategies for Intersectional Talent

The 2018 Spring Partner Meeting, which took place on April 26, brought together representatives from our Partner organizations to discuss ways to promote intersectional recruiting, and to challenge attendees to redefine their notions of what good candidates look like.

“I’m looking at the future,” said Brenda Darden Wilkerson, President and CEO of, in her opening address. “Your organizations have been amazingly impactful, and we want to help you build a strong workforce with women of all intersections.”

Oftentimes, recruiters and hiring managers neglect to consider applicants from nontraditional tech backgrounds, such as those who are self-trained, or who have attended boot camps and other non-university training programs. Recruiters can also harbor unconscious bias against women and minorities because they don’t fit stereotypical ideas of what a technologist looks like.

To address this issue, our partner attendees brainstormed new ideas for promoting intersectional awareness and recruiting diverse talent, and listened to a trio of experienced leaders discuss initiatives already in place.

The panel, entitled “Partners and Perspectives,” featured Dori Grant (Academy Director of Admissions at Hackbright), Samantha “Sam” Cicotello (Lead of Diversity and Inclusion of Technology at Capital One), and Dawn Jones (Director of Policy and External Partnerships at Intel). Each panelist explained how leaders at her organization support women from different backgrounds and those at different career stages.

Dawn discussed a solution that Intel’s leaders implemented: a confidential service known as WarmLine where case managers listen to employees who are considering leaving. Workplace challenges, from unconscious bias to managerial issues, can be brought to light anonymously and addressed appropriately.

As a result of WarmLine input, “we’re doing a lot of inclusive-recruitment training for management,” said Dawn. “We also [offered] a course on diversity and how to listen effectively.”

What surprised Dawn the most, however, was the fact that WarmLine users weren’t just women and members of underrepresented minority groups. “We had just as many white and Asian men call in,” Dawn said. Despite its intended focus on minority populations, WarmLine was benefitting the entire company—minorities and majorities alike.

“What advice would you give to companies interested in starting their own WarmLine program?” asked panel moderator Faye Sahai of Exponential Talent.

“Look at your exit-rate data, and look at what’s right for your specific company and team,” replied Dawn.

Sam discussed Capital One’s Women in Tech (WIT) group, run by the company’s female technicians—another initiative that promotes a better understanding of intersectionality.

“Women in tech have specific needs, which are different from general women employees,” Sam explained. The program explores issues such as unconscious bias and early-career success. “It’s a key part of what we’re doing to recruit and retain women,” she said.

Sam also spoke about Capital One’s Ally Program, which “allows people to lean in and be part of the solution.”

“It’s about leveraging the entire community to push things forward,” she added. The result of having a diverse group of people working towards the same goal is more diverse and innovative solutions.

Diversity is also a priority for the leaders at Hackbright, a boot camp for women of all backgrounds who are transitioning into software engineering careers. “Our mission is to change the ratio in tech,” Dori said of the organization.

Hackbright offers both full-time and part-time education programs, and helps graduates find jobs by connecting them with Hackbright’s hiring partners. But most importantly, Hackbright’s staff aims to provide women with confidence.

“Imposter syndrome is a real thing, especially for women coming from outside the tech field,” Dori pointed out. Luckily, Hackbright’s educators, mentors, and career coaches provide students with the support and resources they need to overcome their self-doubt and make successful career changes.

We are so thankful to all of our panelists, speakers, and partners for joining us at the Spring Partner Meeting. We look forward to seeing the new, innovative ways they promote intersectionality and recruit diverse talent in the months ahead.

Learn how you can become an Partner and attend future Partner Meetings.