Nolan Atkinson: The main event of the 2019 AL DÍA Philadelphia Diverse City Career Fair
The first chief diversity officer will moderate a panel discussion on workforce equity in Philadelphia and the best practices for diversity.
The main event of the AL DIA Philadelphia Diverse City Career Fair 2019 will feature a very important conversation moderated by Nolan N. Atkinson Jr. In January 2016, Atkinson officially filled the role of Chief Diversity Officer for the Mayor Jim Kenney administration—the first to fill the role.
At the career fair, Atkinson will moderate a panel discussion on workforce equity in the city of Philadelphia, as well as the challenges and best practices for reaching workforce equity.
The panelists will feature Rebeca Cruz-Esteves, managing partner at Populouz; Malik Brown, vice president of talent & strategic partnerships at The Gradual Network, Inc.; Prince Altee Thomas, counsel at Fox Rothschild, LLP and co-chair of the firm's diversity committee; and Jeffrey Stevens, executive vice president of chief human resources officer at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.
Prior to Atkinson being appointed, the city of Philadelphia had never had a chief diversity officer. During a previous interview with AL DIA, Atkinson said it took a lot of effort to address the state of the city's workforce in order to make sure that he would be effective in his role.
"We had to do a lot of listening and talking to people and then, secondly, begin to develop certain strategies and focus on workforce," he said. "One of the most important issues that we wanted to focus on was having and building accurate data."
He added that he visits the data on a quarterly basis, and each department head and commissioner has conversations to find out things, such as what problems arose, their hiring practices, opportunities in the city's office of diversity and talent, making sure all resources are being utilized, and more.
The city of Philadelphia continuously grows more and more diverse; however, the workforce lags far behind.
Atkinson said diversity isn't linear, and while he praised the commitment the mayor has made to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, the efforts go far beyond just picking one or two people from a certain group.
"The law doesn’t permit us to do that," he said. "What we do is really work on building robust recruitment pools so that hiring managers for the various departments will be able to see a great group of candidates that are diverse."
"After we have those recruitment pools, our second objective is to make sure that the interview process is as free of bias as possible," Atkinson added.
Addressing diversity may start in the hiring process; however, it doesn't end there. It's ongoing.
"Having a diverse and healthy workforce is not only who you want to hire, but taking care of people who are already in your office," said Atkinson.
The 18th annual AL DIA Philadelphia Diverse City Career Fair will take place on Thursday, April 25, 2019. To register, please click here.