Webcor's Commitment to Diversity Leads to HBCU Recruiting Effort

Members of The Collective traveled to the Atlanta University Center Consortium's career fair to connect with engineering students from three HBCUs.

October 16, 2023

Core Values

The students at the Atlanta University Center Consortium career fair were impeccably dressed, serious about exploring opportunities for their futures, and younger than the Webcor recruiters on-site were accustomed to.

"When we're thinking of our typical interns, we're thinking of our traditional third and fourth-year construction management or civil engineering majors. They know what they want to do; they're already reading plans and preparing to do the work of a project engineer," says Webcor Project Director Ted Williams. "We were talking to freshmen and sophomores who may not have even considered a career in construction but are early enough in their education to be inspired to follow a meaningful career in construction and showed the potential to do great things."

Ted was one of six Webcorians -- all members of The Collective, Webcor's Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black employees -- to travel to Atlanta as part of the company's new effort to expand the scope of colleges from which it recruits in pursuit of greater diversity. The three-hour career fair portion of the event attracted first- and second-year students from three local Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University.

All of them lined up at the booths of about 300 companies, including some of the biggest companies in the country, such as Nike, Delta Airlines, and UPS. For a time, Webcor's booth went unnoticed. "Nike didn't have to convince anybody to come to their booth," Ted says.

"Most times we go to career fairs and trade shows, people know about us because it’s a civil engineer fair or Construction management fair where schools know about us, usually based in California," says Dante Robinson, senior HR coordinator and organizer of the Atlanta trip. "Also working against Webcor was the fact that the HBCUs in Atlanta don’t know of us because we don’t have a presence in the Atlanta area and we are not nationally known."

"The students did come prepared and excited about the next phase of their lives," says Kamika Kilgore, senior director with Webcor's IT team. Seeing that excitement prompted Kamika to partner with Sharla Sullivan, Webcor's outreach and partnership manager, to leave the booth and take up a position at the front of the hall where they could reach out to students.

"My pickup line was, 'Want to come to California? You should have seen their eyes lit up. That brought them to the booth where our recruiting pros did their work," Kamika says.

The Journey to Atlanta

Webcor's recruiting trip to Atlanta was the culmination of work that began about a year ago, according to Human Resources Director Tim Wortham. "The Collective was discussing that the Black population at Webcor was hanging in at about the 4 percent range, so we started thinking about recruiting at HBCUs. Ted put together a chart with schools that had engineering majors. We wound up looking at the DC area, but we didn't get any traction with that when we explored it in 2022."

So, the group shifted its focus to discussions that included President and CEO Matt Rossie and EVP and Chief People Officer Mei Lin Wolff about going to Georgia Tech. Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta are in the same city. What's more, the HBCUs are involved in a dual-degree engineering program. Students within the Atlanta HBCUs have a dual program set up with Georgia Tech that allows them to finish their schooling there.

"It was like hitting the trifecta," Tim says.

Even better, Webcor's contact at Georgia Tech explained that the Georgia Tech student population was already fairly diverse, and about 10 to 15 percent of the engineering students were from California. "They may want to get home when they're done with school," Tim says. "That's a pretty good pipeline of candidates."

Planning for the trip began with Dante, who talked with people who had attended these colleges and their families; they suggested people he should speak with and offered ideas for how to best recruit from the schools.

"Our goal was to get our name out there," Dante says. "If we can recruit one student to come to Webcor as an intern, they'll go back and talk to others about it, spreading out the name of Webcor which will eventually help the more and more we go out there."

Exceeding Goals

Ultimately, about 40 students visited the booth. The team evaluated 33 and interviewed seven who were identified for a potential internship. "One of those was from Oakland," says Sharla. "She was ecstatic. She told us she sees our cranes all over and asked us to tell her more."

Everyone visiting the booth asked about Webcor's culture. "They're not only concerned about getting a job; they want to know what their experience will be and whether they'll all belong. They're looking for an inclusive culture. When they learned about The Collective, they brightened up. Being a company that involves diverse groups helps us stand out from the others."

The team of recruiters -- which also included Sr. Project Engineer Melanie Walker -- worked well together at the recruiting fair and also took time to see some of the sights in Atlanta, including the MLK memorial and the house in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born. Three of them made the extra stop at Georgia Tech.

"After being at Webcor for 22 years, it was exciting to go on a recruiting trip focused on inclusion," Kamika says. "It's a small investment for a potentially large payoff. I'm excited to see the fruit of this seed that was planted and what it bears."

"I came out of this trip very excited," Ted adds. "It was inspiring having The Collective come together and do something this meaningful in a city with an incredibly thriving black community and humbling place in the history of Black culture."