Welcome to a new episode of Leaders Link: a series of live-streamed conversations with leaders who have special reflections to share on some of the greatest challenges of our time.
Episode 13 features Damien Howard, Executive Vice President of Social Ventures, Per Scholas, and creator of a national conversation series called Diverse by Design.
Damien has spent 19 years at Per Scholas, which has trained more than 10,000 individuals from often-overlooked communities (some 90% people of colour and 30% women) and launched them on transformative tech careers.
He credits the longevity of his career with the non-profit giving him a chance, despite his lack of college degree and a tough start when he was young.
Damien says the nation’s skills are often hidden in plain sight, and employers tend to believe (incorrectly) that they must sacrifice quality for diversity. Businesses need to make a perception shift, and he regularly reminds them of the value of diversity (companies which embrace it tend to be 12% more profitable).
He suggests ways to source diverse talent effectively, make the transition as seamless as possible for new joiners, and ensure they have a career path (treat them just like anyone else!)
Damien continues to relish the challenge. He says his favourite conversations with potential employers are the toughest ones: “A problem well stated is a problem well solved”.
Our next Leaders Link features Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney, President and Founder of ExodusFoundation.org, and Thomas Adams and Jessica Taylor, President and Executive Director of Chance for Life. They'll discuss America's criminal justice system, how mass incarceration continues to impact Black communities disproportionately - and ways in which we can help fix this broken system.
To join this episode on Thursday 30 July at 7 AM (PT); 10 AM (EDT); 3 PM (BST), you can register here. These sessions are free and open to everyone, so do invite your networks to join!