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Anchor institutions take on role supporting diversity in Baltimore

The Daily Record

July 24, 2018


Baltimore’s anchor institutions have begun to make progress towards more inclusive hiring and procurement practices by partnering together and sharing ideas, a report finds.

The Baltimore Integration Partnership’s economic inclusion report found that economic inclusion can help improve the entire city’s economy and that the city’s universities and medical institutions can lead the way.

“We believe that institutions are essential to the health and the prosperity of our communities,” said Kurt Sommer, director of the partnership. “(Institutions must) be intentional with strategies to craft out approaches so that the economic power that they have can create economic benefits for the city and the residents of our great city.”

The institutions have particularly focused on improving diversity in hiring and procurement as ways to benefit their communities.

Beyond just talking about inclusion, institutions are encouraged to build relationships, identify strategies, identify economic opportunities and, perhaps most critically, track the work that they are doing.

For hiring, the partnership worked with Humanim to develop an administrative assistant training program, specifically designed to create a talent pipeline for these institutions. Enrollees come away with a certificate in Microsoft Office and certified as administrative assistants.

Over several years, the program has had 75 enrollees with 85 percent becoming certified and 84 percent employed. More placements are underway.

“Working with anchors that have an identified gap in filling those positions, that was really helpful,” said Cindy Plavier-Truitt, chief business officer at Humanim.

What both workforce development programs like Humanim and the anchor institutions themselves have found is that there was almost a missed connection between what employers were looking for and what the potential employees have been seeking.

Many positions were advertised as entry-level positions but had job requirements that turned a lot of people off, like extra levels of educational attainment.

Notre Dame of Maryland University found some open positions may not have been advertised in places where the community could find jobs. The school made it easier to find job openings on its website but it has also put in place training on implicit bias and structural racism to try to overcome some of those invisible barriers that could have been keeping people out of jobs.