The Villanova Career Center held its fifth annual Inclusive Hiring Meetup on Sept. 28. Students had the opportunity to meet with representatives from 15 employers across a variety of fields, focusing specifically on inclusivity and efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

In particular, employers shared with attendees their attitudes toward and opportunities concerning diverse hiring and recruiting practices, resources for employees from diverse backgrounds and the meaning of diversity to their companies in general.

The event was organized to coincide with the University’s Inclusion Week (Sept. 27 through Oct. 1), during which organizations and departments across campus ran programming centered around diversity and inclusion. 

Alongside the University Career Center, the Inclusive Hiring Meetup was sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Center for Access, Success and Achievement (CASA), the Office of Intercultural Affairs, the Office of Disability Services, VU Pride, the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership, the Office of International Student Services and Learning Support Services.

A wide range of sponsors helped spread the word to the student population. Awareness was a crucial part of the event, as organizers emphasized the aim of informing students about the resources and opportunities available to support diversity in the workforce and job search.

Associate Director of Career Development Jhaakira Jacobs further explained the event’s importance in highlighting employers’ focus and posture toward DEI.

We have a changing, more diverse workforce, and employers need to recognize that they play a role in breaking down barriers for underrepresented students during the recruitment and hiring process,” Jacobs said. 

Beyond company representatives providing overviews of their diversity practices, the meetup also importantly served as an avenue for conversation between employers and students.

“It's a two-way street, and students need to know how to ask the right questions,” Jacobs said, referring to students’ task of investigating DEI resources for themselves in job and interview searches.

To help students start these conversations, the Career Center provided attendees with a guide on how to evaluate an organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion before the event. The guide included tips on where to look for a commitment to DEI, like company diversity statements, leadership, resource groups and recruitment strategies. 

It also listed suggestions of questions to ask on these points, touching on corporate culture and long-term goals or plans toward developing a diverse workforce and cultivating an inclusive workplace. 

Attendees were grateful for the opportunity to look at the job search from a different perspective, with diversity commitment under the microscope.

Sophomores Juliana Kwon and Michael Tilker attended the Inclusive Hiring Meetup hoping to learn more about career opportunities generally, along with a specific focus on corporate diversity values.

“I just transferred to the business school from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and I came to learn more about employer culture,” Kwon said.

“I think this is a great way to find what opportunities are out there, both in terms of diversity and more generally,” Tilker added.

The organizers of the meetup made a conscious effort to lend a relaxed atmosphere to the event to emphasize meaningful dialogue between employees and student attendees over typical job fair formalities. As such, the dress code was “campus attire,” and students were encouraged to explore different tables as they saw fit to ask questions and hear representatives’ explanations of their company’s DEI efforts.

The Inclusive Hiring Meetup is one of many programs and events the Career Center offers throughout the year for anyone interested in learning about career development and opportunities. Students can check the Handshake platform to find out more.