In 2011, over 30 communications professionals attended an inaugural networking lunch in Washington, D.C. — an event that formed the foundations of ColorComm: a now multifaceted organisation reaching more than 100,000 multicultural professionals in all areas of communications, from PR to advertising, print media, broadcast and digital. Today, ColorComm counts companies such as Coca-Cola and AT&T to NBC Universal, Facebook, Google and Condé Nast, The Walt Disney Company, and Black Rock among its financial partners, and works closely with HBCUs across the US.
With a mission to connect like-minded individuals and build a network of leaders through mentorship and business relationships, ColorComm has a presence throughout the US and expanded to London in 2018. The network produces over 100 local programmes a year and has 2,000+ paying members to which it offers recruiting and retention services, formal mentorship, an industry directory and access to the member and board networks, with the latter made up of senior executives from companies like Netflix and Twitter, Google, Edelman and Warner Media Entertainment.
While the platform has hosted a weekly Jobs Board from members since 2017, a formalised jobs site and search platform was launched to meet the increasing demand from companies turning to the network to help resource talent with experience in PR and advertising. The platform already represents thousands of companies across the US as well as the UK, from Harvard University and Condé Nast to Nike and McDonald’s.
In celebration of ColorComm’s 10-year anniversary and the site’s launch, members of the ColorComm community gathered on Friday, October 1 for an invite-only private luncheon in New York, with Whoopi Goldberg as keynote speaker and numerous executive leaders from Fortune 500 companies, industry thought-leaders, media personalities and influencers in attendance.
Now, BoF sits down with the company’s founder and CEO, Lauren Wesley Wilson, to learn more about ColorComm’s growing offering and new job search platform, ColorComm Search.
Why did ColorComm launch a jobs search site?
Our focus is providing economic opportunity to our community and offer access to inclusive hiring for the companies we serve. Our main objective is to help multicultural talent find jobs at leading companies.
There’s a demand across all industries to hire people of colour, especially in leadership roles. Companies generally know where to find diverse talent for internships and entry-level talent — the problem is that talent often doesn’t move up the ranks. They move onto different roles, and the path to leadership is often bleak.
In the last decade, we have cultivated an amazing group of talent through the ColorComm Network, not just in our member base, but our large community of conference attendees, next generation community, Men of Color in Communications, ColorComm Media Group, The ColorComm Foundation and more. We’re bringing them to the employers who say they don’t know where to find diverse talent.
Our members range from ages 22 to 65+, so we have a variety of members at all levels and range of career experience who can advise each other as peer mentors and who have the experience to guide the next generation of leaders.
Who are the intended users of ColorComm Search?
ColorComm Search is a separate offering to ColorComm’s other platforms, because it’s reaching the public. Any employer can create an account, but it’s predominantly for those who are prioritising inclusion in the workforce. We gave our members the opportunity to be involved first, to sign up for accounts, and we walked them through it. Now, it is open to the public.
We have cultivated an amazing group of talent through the ColorComm Network [...]. We’re bringing them to the employers who say they don’t know where to find diverse talent.
The interest is coming from the US first, but there’s global interest as well. We’re catering to all industries, from the fashion and beauty industry to the sports or consumer package goods industries — they all have communications, marketing and advertising teams. They’re all looking to hire qualified, vetted, smart talent.
How do you support candidates using ColorComm Search?
I hear the challenges from candidates looking for jobs at major companies. They often share it is impossible to breakthrough in the application process as their information doesn’t get into the right hands and that competition is steep.
I know if I’m applying for a job, I want to be applying directly to the person overseeing the role, who has the power to make the decision to interview me. I don’t want to be applying to a job where I’m just one of thousands of applications. That’s where the ColorComm community of leaders really helps to provide candidates with the opportunity to get in front of the decision makers at major companies as many of them are decision makers or can point quickly to who are.
We’re also taking it beyond the website: we’re providing email marketing support to bring more attention to open roles to our community. The platform is free for the talent, but there’s a fee for the employer.
What further support do members receive via ColorComm’s wider offering?
Our members have experienced life-changing career challenges over this past year. Under ColorComm Network — our membership organisation, we provide a resource and tools for our members to succeed. This includes hosting several programmes a week for networking or receiving educational information on topics like working from home, how to manage up, or how to bring in new business. We’ve held talks on how to handle rejection, about self-care and mental health. We coached them on how to do this from a virtual environment.
People have also called upon us to help navigate crises, not just on the hiring front, but under ColorComm Media Group, where we work with a number of Fortune 500 clients and major brands on getting their house in order. There was this disconnect between throwing money at the problem to mitigate racial inequity and not learning why a company lacks diverse leadership at the top or has lost multicultural support. It’s not just about a temporary solution, but to actually fix the root of why we are here.
How does that support extend to recruiters and companies?
I also hear the challenges from the HR leader looking to hire diverse qualified candidate. They often share that they don’t have enough options to present to leadership for consideration. We work with employers on expanding beyond their normal ways of search for diverse talent. ColorComm Search starts with sourcing talent through the ColorComm Network and member community.
It’s about receiving dozens of quality candidates that meet the criteria instead hundreds of the wrong candidates that do not.
ColorComm Search is about quality instead of quantity. It’s about receiving dozens of quality candidates that meet the criteria instead hundreds of the wrong candidates that do not.
How are you seeing the conversation around diversity in recruitment evolving?
These conversations have been happening for a long time, not just when everything blew up last summer with the murder of George Floyd. Leaders have been having conversations for a while now about diversifying the top, about bringing more talent in the door and supporting multicultural talent. Some companies do it really well — some still have a long way to go.
The difference now is the accountability piece. Following the events of last summer, it wasn’t just employees inside companies calling for change, but customers who impact the company’s revenue and bottom line demanded changes — or they would spend their money where their values more closely aligned.
How does ColorComm listen to and learn from its members?
The way we learn is by members telling us what they need. ColorComm started with the premise of asking “What do you need?” — and we listened and learned.
After ColorComm amassed a community of thousands of multicultural talent from some of the best companies in US and abroad, we learned quickly about the demand to tap into our network and hire talent.
This wasn’t our initial focus to help companies recruit, but we saw our members in need of roles and companies needing to hire, so it became a perfect match. The development for ColorComm Search has been in the plans for over a year and it couldn’t have come at more perfect time to launch in a climate where the demand for recruiting, retention and inclusion is at an all-time high.
This feature is part of a global community partnership with ColorComm.