Building a Diverse Talent Pipeline in St. Louis

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People in the St. Louis region refer to their home as a thriving “city of neighborhoods.” Each of the city’s 79 communities features its own identity with distinctive characteristics and cultural heritage. Nicknamed the Gateway City, the city’s populations trace their heritage back to Africa, Asia, Latin America and many European countries. The largest demographic group is Blacks, who currently make up 49.4 percent of the population.

Despite the racial/ethnic diversity of the city’s nearly 320,000 residents, the neighborhoods formed by immigrant communities in the late 1800s to early 1900s remain very homogenous, says Reena Hajat Carroll, executive director of the Diversity Awareness Partnership.

“There are very specific white restaurants and bars and nonwhite restaurants and bars. You very quickly realize you are of the nonmajority. It makes it very hard to fit in if you are not Black or white,” says Carroll, who is Asian Indian. “Increasing diversity awareness socially and in the professional arena is very important for the region to grow and remain competitive.”

The Diversity Awareness Partnership hosts a variety of programs to educate the public on issues surrounding race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The nonprofit also works with 14 partner corporations, which include Edward Jones, Ameren, the Cardinals baseball team and the Rams football team, as well as DiversityInc Top 50 companies PricewaterhouseCoopers (No. 1 in the DiversityInc Top 50) and Wells Fargo (No. 33).

In addition to supporting the Diversity Awareness Partnership, local businesses also are taking their own initiatives to increase diversity awareness. In particular, Ameren, MasterCard, Monsanto, Edward Jones, McCarthy Building Companies and Anheuser-Busch have made diversity efforts a key strategy for recruitment, talent development and succession planning. Their goal: to attract diverse talent to the area to increase innovation and, ultimately, the city’s economic success.


Leadership Accountability & Diversity Training

The largest electric utility in Missouri, and one of the largest investor-owned utility companies in the nation, the St. Louisbased Ameren Corporation has more than 3 million customers in the surrounding region. To provide them with exceptional service, Ameren has developed a comprehensive diversity-training program that allows its employees to have more awareness of diversity and cultural nuances while out in the field.

It’s one of the things that Ameren, one of DiversityInc’s Top 5 Utility Companies, is most proud of, according to Sharon Harvey Davis, vice president and chief diversity officerso proud, in fact, that it makes the diversity-training program available to other companies for use in training their own employees. (Go to the Corporate Diversity page at to purchase the DVDs.)

“A large part of our efforts at Ameren are to move diversity ahead so that we can bring employees along to a new area of diversity,” says Steve Parks, manager of diversity. The training program is now in its third year with a focus on creating awareness around people with disabilities. Previous years’ themes included LGBT and sexual-orientation issues, and interracial relationships.

Davis notes that one of the rewarding effects of the training is that it helps employees in the community. “Our resource groups are charged with impacting the community around their respective focus areas. We give them training for community involvement and customer involvement,” she says. “Everyone that lives here is our customer. We have to be good at diversity.”

Recently, Ameren was recognized for its efforts in the community: The Governor’s Council on Disability named Ameren as honorable mention (runner-up) for its annual Inclusion Award. Ameren’s Network for Disabled Employees frequently reaches out to area public schools to engage students with disabilities and teach them the importance of education. The group hosted a Mentoring Day that produced a two-fold benefit: Students met employees and learned about opportunities in the utility industry, while employees interacted with students and developed a new comfort level with this demographic.

Ameren also sponsors Rams Blitz: Youth Working Together to Break Through Boundaries, a sportsmanship program, featuring players from the NFL’s Rams, that is bringing together football teams from Seckman High and Parkway North High for a series of activities during the school year designed to promote understanding and acceptance of differences.

Overall, more than 50 percent of Ameren’s community giving goes to multicultural nonprofits and college-outreach programs. “Ameren is very well known for its diversity efforts. A lot of people come to work here already aware and knowledgeable of what we’ve done through outreach and community giving,” says Davis, who attributes the company’s reputation to CEO Tom Voss’ visible commitment to diversity and inclusion. “He’s helping the city become better for all types of people through his involvement in organizations like the regional chamber of commerce and The Black Rep theater. His effort speaks volumes and it’s impacting his peers and CEOs in the community to get involved.”

Davis notes that Voss often is called on by other organizations to speak, such as during Edward Jones’ Inclusion and Diversity Week in October: “He’s a corporate champion in the community.” She continues, “Tom made it clear that if you’re a leader in this company, you’re involved in diversity. It’s expected of all direct reports and all high-level executives.”

Voss, who spoke at DiversityInc’s event last April, discusses how he holds his executives accountable in his Q&A with DiversityInc at Davis’ work with him is highlighted in 2 Case Studies of CEO Commitment.


Recruiting Tech-Savvy Millennials Is Key to Innovation

MasterCard is technology focused, with a goal of improving security and efficiency for all consumers globallycovering a total of more than 23 billion transactions a year. As such, MasterCard’s strategic plan is closely tied to the innovation of its talent and, therefore, the diversity of its employees. This is especially true in St. Louis, where the company’s office for tech and operations is based.

“We’re focused on bringing in top, diverse technical talent and distributing that talent globallyand that’s not just diversity in ethnicity and gender,” says Rob Reeg, president of the MasterCard Technologies division of MasterCard Worldwide. He notes that students in the technical and operations fields at most colleges and universities predominantly are Asian males. “It’s increasingly difficult to find diverse kids.”

“We need different perspectives; technologies invented here have to work across the world. Having that reach and representation from location, ethnicities and cultures is needed for innovations,” explains Luis Campadelli, group head, Human Resources, MasterCard Technologies. “Millennials are early adopters of technology and willing to try new things, especially emerging mobile and ecommerce solutions.”

A key recruiting strategy for MasterCard, No. 15 in the DiversityInc Top 50, has been to attract Millennial workers via targeted internship programs with colleges that provide access to a diverse talent pool. The MasterCard Technologies unit has found success in hiring from universities across the Midwest over the past three years, with the number of Millennial employees in its workforce increasing from 10 percent to 24 percent.

“For us, you have to look from a technology lens, which makes Luis’ job a little harder. We have to focus on campuses that can bring us the right level of diversity,” says Reeg, noting that MasterCard also utilizes its resource groupswhich include groups for Black, Latino, Asian, women, LGBT, veteran, older and younger employeesas a way to target and identify prospective candidates.

MasterCard also began collaborating this year with InSight St. Louis, which offers an immersion program for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities who relocate to St. Louis and showcases the city as a great place to build a career, and with Washington University in St. Louis on a new MBA program.

The company plans to further its national recruiting efforts next year by partnering with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Additionally, MasterCard will continue its partnership with INROADS, a nonprofit that places high-performing Black, Latino and American Indian students in internships at leading corporations. It will also partner with Junior Achievement, which educates children about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy, and the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Programs, which engage students in activities that build science, engineering and technology skills.


Diverse Pipeline Improves Processes, Technology & Innovation

Diversity-and-inclusion efforts at Monsanto, No. 44 in the DiversityInc Top 50, give the global agriculture company “deep roots within the St. Louis community” that support its strong focus of business success through innovation, says Melissa Harper, vice president of Global Talent Acquisition and Diversity.

The world’s rapidly increasing population size and diversity make this particularly relevant today, notes Harper. Agriculture, she explains, is a pivotal intersection point among food, fuel and fiber where success is based on three factorsfood/product demand, innovation and execution. With the world population expected to increase by 2.3 billion, to more than 9 billion, by 2050, innovation will be all the more important.

“That’s why we’re continuously looking for ways to improve on agriculture today, to help our farmers and growers be successful through better technology, processes and innovation,” says Harper. “We rely on people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints to develop new, best products continuously.”

Harper recently spoke at DiversityInc’s Innovation Fest! event about how the company’s three-part talent-acquisition process helps overcome recruiting challenges and more fully integrates and engages its employees from various global cultures. Watch the video:

Monsanto‘s strategy takes a proactive approach to increasing diversity in the talent pool. St. Louisbased initiatives include outreach to support diversity and local communities through educationsuch as partnerships with the company’s philanthropic arm, the Monsanto Fundto help encourage Black, Latino and women students to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

These efforts include financial contributions; partnering with professional associations, such as Black Data Processing Associates, Future Farmers of America, Women in IT and the National Sales Network; supporting school-based and local urban greenhouses; and allowing employees to volunteer in classrooms to assist with science experiments and provide tutoring services.

Monsanto also participates in the InSight St. Louis program. The nonprofit is dedicated to recruiting top graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the St. Louis region. Monsanto and other participating companies host these students and provide educational development while showing them what it’s like to live and work in the city.

“We want to generate better awareness for long-term technology and engineering careers at Monsanto,” says Harper. This helps the company build a diverse, local set of qualified recruits for the future.

Additionally, Monsanto donated $1 million this year to the St. Louis Chapter of the United Negro College Fund. And members of Monsanto’s nine resource groupsBlack, Latino, Asian, women, LGBT, family, veterans, people with disabilities, and young professionalshost and plan United Way’s Inspire Fashion Show each year, with all proceeds going to local charities in Greater St. Louis.

“Our recruitment and talent efforts are very deliberate. Being proactive helps uswe do not wait until we have an exact need to hire. Companies that do that tend to struggle a bit more,” says Harper.

Edward Jones

Improving Diversity in Financial ServicesGetting White Men on Board

Although St. Louis has a diverse population, generating diversity awareness and finding diverse talent still proves to be a top challenge for organizations, particularly if you are in the financial-services industry, according to Emily Pitts, principal, Inclusion/Diversity at Edward Jones. The investment firm, which has 5,000 employees at its St. Louis headquarters, has nearly 7 million clients and more than 10,000 branches in the U.S. and Canada.

In a predominantly white- and male-dominated industry, the firm has had to make proactive efforts to attract diverse candidates to the region, she says. These efforts include fostering partnerships with multicultural organizations and professional associations, as well as its own robust recruitment and on-boarding programs for new hires.

“We sponsor events such as the National Urban League and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. We’re always looking to strategically align ourselves with organizations that can help attract more diverse talent to St. Louis,” explains Pitts.

Like Monsanto’s Harper, Pitts notes the benefits of the InSight St. Louis program. Edward Jones has been a member for the last four years.

The company also has partnered with the Washington University chapter of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management for the past three years. The program aims to attract diverse, young professionals who are pursuing their MBAs. Returning students have an opportunity to interview with the program’s sponsors.

Edward Jones also has a Rotational Development Program that rotates recent graduates through four or five divisions in the firm before they are assigned a final placement. This allows the graduates to learn about the culture of the firm and observe the intricacies and nuances throughout the business.

To support its talent development and recruitment efforts from the inside, Edward Jones for the last three years has held an annual Inclusion and Diversity Week for both its associates and leaders. The week provides employees the opportunity to hear national speakers, attend cross-cultural-competence workshops and network.

This year the firm extended the program to the surrounding community through a partnership with the World Diversity Leadership Summit. “Diversity 2012 and Beyond,” a two-day event hosted at the company’s headquarters, was attended by 200 senior global executives from leading corporations, and sponsors included Ameren, Prudential Financial (No. 9 in the 2012 DiversityInc Top 50), the Diversity Awareness Partnership, United Negro College Fund and Major League Baseball.

Local community-focused organizations also were invited to an exposition to showcase the opportunities for associates to get involved in community outreach. Nonprofits participating included the Disabilities Institute, the Diversity Awareness Partnership, the Urban League and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“Having an event like this raises awareness and also creates a catalyst to get associates engaged. Diversity at Edward Jones is strong and we have a great culture, but people are always looking for what they can do or reasons for why we’re doing this,” says Pitts. “It creates a vehicle to educate and engage and promote the importance of inclusion and diversity in our firms.”

Additionally, Edward Jones works closely with the Diversity Awareness Partnership through the Give Respect Get Respect program. The five-month program brings together students from 25 middle and high schools, along with teachers and Edward Jones associates, monthly at Edward Jones’ offices to explore the issues of race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation and gender identity. Employees volunteer a total of 15 hours with the program, for which Edward Jones compensates them.

It’s a partnership that’s grown over the past decade, according to DAP’s Carroll. “Give Respect Get Respect provides companies internal diversity training in a nontraditional sense,” she says. “We’re helping students learn to handle conflict situations at school, like bullying and prejudice, but what also happens is students are teaching the adults. A lot of associates have kids as well so they get to hear an [unbiased] student’s perspective.”

Edward Jones was the first company to endorse the program, and Carroll says there will be three more companiesBoeing, the Saint Louis Zoological Park and the Missouri Botanical Gardenin 2013.

McCarthy Building Companies

Employee-Owned Company Builds Engagement Among Students

Finding diverse talent is also a key priority for McCarthy Building Companies, a St. Louis-based national general-contracting company that handles challenging, technical projects. “Talent is a significant issue and a concern for us across all our companies,” says Scott Wittkop, president, McCarthy Central Division. “The construction industry offers a wide variety of high-quality employment opportunities and will need to add 1.5 million workers to successfully install the volume of work expected in 2014 alone.”

Wittkop says his company’s advantage lies in his employees’ diversity and their ability to innovate by bringing different perspectives to the table. That’s why the company both looks to attract talent from across the country and continually develop its employees, as well as develop and engage talented students within local regions.

“We are continually challenging ourselves to accelerate the development of our top talent. Our annual senior talent-review process includes a formal identification of high-potential diverse employees and the creation of personal-development plans to foster their internal growth in our company,” says Wittkop, noting that talent development and retention is a particular concern for this 100 percent employee-owned company. “Developing our future leaders is critical to our long-term success.”

McCarthy Building Companies’ approach to talent management is just one part of its four-arm diversity-management strategy. The company also focuses on increasing educational support, collaborating with diverse clients and partners, and increasing philanthropic efforts.

For example, the company is the founding partner of the Introduction to Construction Careers program, which exposes diverse groups of talented students in St. Louis to high-paying construction careers. “It helps create awareness and excitement around those types of opportunities,” says Adam Knoebel, vice president of operations for McCarthy’s Central Division. “The construction workforce is aging and we’re all sending kids to school. The challenge is: Who’s going to be building our buildings in 10 to 20 years”

Similarly, the Association for Construction Careers, Education & Support Services (ACCESS) serves to increase exposure to the construction industry among Blacks and Latinos, as well as provide educational support services. “The focus is to provide a clearinghouse for individuals interested in career opportunities in the city and put them in touch with needed educational opportunities,” explains Knoebel.

He adds, “Maintaining dialogue is important. We need to be a part of the conversation, internally and externally, and share best practices in a collaborative manner.”

The benefits of McCarthy Building Company’s diversity programs and outreach efforts are further dispersed throughout the region by its support of diverse suppliers. “Their ability to learn about a project early on and get involved with estimators” is a key driver for their ability to compete and find economic success,” says Monica Bailey, director of diversity, Central Division. “A lot of suppliers are unaware of projects out there, so we host specific events to collect their input, provide networking opportunities and help them with bidding, estimating and cost.” The company also provides formal and informal mentoring to diverse suppliers.

Wittkop and his executive team sit on boards or committees of 10 different nonprofits that are dedicated to improving St. Louis’ diversity within the workforce and among subcontractors. Currently, the company has dedicated approximately 18 percent of its spend to minority- and women-owned businesses, the company says.


More Than $1B in Social-Responsibility Commitments

Executives at Anheuser-Busch say their commitment to diversity management, and to maintaining a diverse employee base and inclusive work environment, is an essential strategy for the beer company’s business success. Creating an inclusive work environment not only helps it stay competitive in an increasingly global market and meet the needs of its consumers, but it also helps Anheuser-Busch stay true to its corporate goal of becoming the “best beer company in a better world” through focused efforts to promote alcohol responsibility, environmental sustainability and community outreach.

“At Anheuser-Busch, in all that we do we recognize our responsibility to improve the world where we do business. We are committed to building a company for the long-term with a legacy to be proud offor the people who work for us and with us; for future generations and the environment in which we live; and, above all, for our consumers who we hope will always enjoy our products responsibly and be as proud to choose them as we are to create them,” states Anheuser-Busch’s Global Citizenship Report. The company has dedicated $1.3 billion to social responsibility since 1982.

As one of its foundational pillars, community outreach is a shared commitment among employees: More than 4,700 employees volunteered in 2011 with programs to promote alcohol responsibility, make a difference in the environment and help make a positive impact on local communities, including St. Louis.

With donations of $4.5 million in 2011 to United Way, Anheuser-Busch continues to be one of the health-and-human-services agency’s top corporate donors in the region. (The Anheuser-Busch Foundation and company employees have contributed more than $38 million combined to United Way since 1985.) Anheuser-Busch also avidly participates in Habitat for Humanity as a way to facilitate and improve economic development in local regions. Hundreds of employees helped to build homes in St. Louis in 2011, the project’s second year. “We’re proud to partner with Habitat to help our neighbors in need,” said Margarita Flores, vice president of community affairs for Anheuser-Busch. “Our employees look forward to these builds and it’s a real source of pride for them and us as a company.”

Additionally, Anheuser-Busch provides financial support to multicultural college students via national educational scholarship funds. This includes more than $24 million in contributions over the last 30 years to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), which has provided more than 23,000 scholarships to Latino students, and a donation of $325,000 in 2011 to the UNCF, formerly the United Negro College Fund.

“We are committed to making a difference through our people, integrity of our business conduct, and support of our community. We are proud of the positive and meaningful impact our business has on the communities in which we work,” Flores said.

Anheuser-Busch also supports the National Urban League, St. Louis American Foundation, NAACP, Hispanic Chamber of Metropolitan St. Louis, Casa Salud, the Hispanic Arts Council, St. Louis LGBT Business Guild, Organization of Chinese Americans, American Legion Post, YWCA and numerous other diverse and inclusive organizations both in St. Louis and across the country.

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