Thursday, November 2, 2017

JobsFirstNYC Convenes Leading Employers to Discuss Alternative Screening Practices

Following the release of Online but Disconnected: Young Adults’ Experiences with Online Job Applications, JobsFirstNYC convened employers, workforce practitioners, policy-makers, and thought leaders to lift up the report’s findings that personality assessments are inappropriate for young adults, unreliable screening tools, and may violate the civil rights of job applicants.

Researcher and author, Margaret Stix of Lookout Hill Public Policy Associates, framed the conversation, presenting on her research methods, her many surprising discoveries, and her reason for ultimately drawing the conclusion that online personality tests are discriminatory. She was then joined by Eva Grote, AmeriCorps Program Director at St. Paul's Community Development Corporation, who had worked with Margaret filling out mock applications throughout the research process; and Sarah Steinberg, Vice President of Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and author of a recent report exploring similar themes, Swiping Right for the Job. The panel grappled with some of the more problematic findings highlighted in Online but Disconnected. Grote recalled that in some applications she filled out, the “right answer” for communicating with a white customer was 180 degrees from the answer expected when confronting a similar situation with a black customer.
Turning to potential solutions, our second panel convened representatives from businesses that have adopted effective job-related hiring and recruitment practices. Panelists included: Aloni Atkins and Johanny Mateo, Recruiting Strategists for the Northeast Region at Chipotle Mexican Grill; Marie Davis, Executive Director of 100,000 Opportunities Initiative; Kimberly Gilsdorf, Associate Director with FSG; Andrea Shimer, Director of Human Resources at Old Navy, Gap Inc.; and moderator Alan Momeyer, Chief Human Resources Officer Emeritus at Loews Corporation and JobsFirstNYC's Board Chair. The conversation showed that there are pros and cons to many of these alternatives. Chipotle, for example, has found that their commitment to in-person interviews is an immense task – particularly in the New York City market – that requires thoughtful workarounds, including group interviews and additional staff. Still, there was a clear consensus that the cons do not outweigh the pros of offering a more equitable standard and access for low-income young adults.

With many national chains leaning more and more on job applications that have difficult personality assessments, it’s critical that we continue to advocate on behalf of the young adults who are potential victims to this discrimination. The research shows clearly that job performance and answers on these tests have a statistically insignificant correlation, yet, personality assessments are still used by many New York City retailers and some hospitality companies. Worst of all, these employers may unknowingly be violating the civil rights of young job seekers.

Join the conversation using #ApplicationDenied. Twitter: @JobsFirstNYC

Thursday, October 5, 2017

As JobsFirstNYC Marks Its 10th Year Our Mission Remains, the Work Evolves

Message from Marjorie Parker, JobsFirstNYC President & CEO

I am pleased and honored to have been appointed as the President & CEO of JobsFirstNYC. In my more than 25 years working in the field wearing many hats in direct service, government, education and other areas, I have had the distinct opportunity to learn from cross-industry stakeholders and have gained a clear insight into challenges our ecosystem faces in developing and implementing an integrated approach that can best benefit the communities we work to support. I plan to continue our mission to find effective, sustainable solutions and collaborate with our Board of Directors and JobsFirstNYC team to build on the work of my predecessors, Lou Miceli and David Nidus.

Our journey over the last ten years has seen challenges, no different from many startups, but our focus on the mission has been persistent. Born out of a crisis in 2006, when more than 220,000 New Yorkers aged 16–24 were out of school and not working, workforce development stakeholders across New York City gathered to reimagine systems-level solutions that will reconnect young adults to economic opportunities. To do this, a new kind of mechanism was needed that would collaborate with service providers, policymakers, philanthropic investors, and employers to develop community-responsive partnerships to achieve better outcomes for the young adults who were structurally left behind. JobsFirstNYC originated from a business plan prepared with support from the New York City Workforce Funders and the Tiger Foundation, and with lead investments from Tiger and The Clark Foundation, we launched in 2007 as the first intermediary of its kind in New York City.

Often plagued with the question, “What is an intermediary?,” since we are neither a direct service provider nor a funder, we have spent a decade creating and collaborating a body of work that now defines what we do. Our work is built on the framework of a classic community organizing principle—the whole is greater than the sum of its parts—that no one institution alone can make long-term, effective and sustainable change. This approach is informed by data, driven by results, and centered around partnerships that align community resources to achieve greater outcomes. We have proven the success of this strategy through initiatives like the Bronx Opportunity Network (BON), Lower East Side Employment Network (LESEN), and Youth Workforce Initiative Network of Staten Island (WINS) and others.

As many of our initiatives continue to mature and their return on investment become clearer, our capacity to transform—through systems change—the opportunity pipeline for young adults and the communities they live in continues to evolve as well. Our field defining reports, such as Barriers to Entry and Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent, have helped to articulate the challenges young adults face in New York City and have been critical in laying out a core set of strategies to improve the economic mobility of young adults. More specifically, our commitment to scaling best practices through policy is demonstrated in JobsFirstNYC’s Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project (YASEP), where some partners have recently been granted resources to sustain the work by receiving support through the federally funded Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).
Over the last 10 years, we have learned that building more inclusive communities requires a different approach, one that disrupts the norm and shows that communities themselves are well situated to be the change they seek; an approach that allows them to discover and develop the solutions that work for them, to be their own engine of change. Over the next 10 years, our mission will remain, as our work evolves. We will engage in deeper analysis of community needs and introduce our successful capabilities to communities that invite us in and can benefit from our approach. We are committed to empowering communities to help them uncover the key to spark neighborhood-based economic growth and security. We will do what we have done since our inception, build partnerships across economic, workforce and community development systems to effect large-scale sustainable changes to solve endemic problems.

The world has changed drastically since our founding, but one thing has remained constant, the communities that we serve have struggled to achieve sustainable economic progress and social stability. Our role and our passion is to continue to develop and work on effective strategies that can result in long-term economic stability for those who live in under-resourced neighborhoods.

Join us and inform the next leg of our journey towards working with these communities to find sustainable solutions. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you would like to see JobsFirstNYC doing over the next 5–10 years by taking this short five question survey.


Marjorie Parker
President & CEO

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities

There are many barriers that prevent people living with disabilities from accessing the employment market, most are often based on misconceptions of a disabled person’s abilities. As a labor pool, people with disabilities are a source of reliable workers, regardless of the nature of their disability.

 Jennifer Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility
On July 31, 2017, RespectAbility hosted From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities, a conference in Washington, D.C. RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with entertainment, policy makers, educators, self-advocates, and online media to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. The summit’s central focus was on bridging the gap between entertainment, politics and disability advocacy. Featured guests included: Casting Director and Producer Leah Daniels-Butler, the One-Arm Golfer Tommy Morrissey, and Food Network host Marc Summers. The event was a celebration of the positive impact made by efforts to end stigmas and advance opportunities for the 57 million people living with disabilities. President of RespectAbility Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi — self-proclaimed “twice able” dyslexic and parent to a child with multiple disabilities — gave the opening remarks.

The summit examined the positive impact people living with disabilities could have on a business’s bottom-line. People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to the workplace, which benefit both employers and organizations. RespectAbility argued, “If we find the right jobs for the right people with [disabilities], it can and does increase the bottom line of companies.” 

Leah Daniels-Butler who is most notable for casting the award-winning film, Lee Daniels' The Butler and television’s Empire, shared why she is hopeful about the future of inclusive casting and the workplace in general, “There is a new generation pushing the disability movement forward. [Young people] are removing the stigma and are thinking differently.”

When asked by a member of the audience what advice he would give to a person with a disability trying to get into the entertainment industry, Steven James Tingus, National Disability Policy Expert and Actor answered, “Do your homework and be persistent, and get in the right way.” What exactly is the right way? Tingus added, “You work hard and start from the bottom at an entry level position and work your way up. That’s how you do it.” In essence, show up and show your value.

Leah Daniels Butler, Casting Diretor; Steven James Tingus, Actor
Disparities in employment, income and poverty are greater for people with disabilities living in New York City than they are at the State or National level. In New York City, there are 889,219 individuals with disabilities; that is, 11.0 percent of the population. The Bronx has the highest percentage of people living with disabilities in the five boroughs of New York City, while Manhattan and Staten Island have the highest numbers of people with disabilities. The employment gap between people with and without disabilities who are working is 41 percent and median earnings for people with disabilities lag more than $25,000 behind. Since stigma continues to impede the hiring of people with disabilities, employers must take action to improve the work environment. Ollie Cantos the highest-ranking blind person in the federal government, noted that we “must address disability diversity policies” and practices in order for people living with disability to see real change.

Ollie Cantos, Government Attorney
“People with disabilities have the ability to adapt to different situations and circumstances perhaps better than any other group and have long proven themselves to be dependable employees,” said Marc Summers, who has been the National Spokesperson for the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and has appeared on Oprah, the Today Show and Dateline discussing the issue. Summers stated that his OCD made him persistent, nothing, not even hundreds of rejections would stop me.” 

Marc Summers, TV Personalty 

People with disabilities have fresh ideas on how to solve problems and complete assigned tasks. Brilynn Rakes, a visually-impaired dancer and RespectAbility Communications Fellow, is working on changing the existing narrative in Hollywood to ensure accurate and positive cultural media portrayals of people with disabilities. Rakes, who has performed works by Donald MyKayle, Christopher Huggins and Jose Limon, and was invited to participate in the New York City Finals of the International Ballet Competition and Youth American Grand Prix in 2012 and 2013, described how she learned to find her balance by utilizing her peripheral vision. Rakes said, “my balance is just as good as the elite professional dancers in the business.”

Tommy Morrissey, the 11-year-old one-arm Golfer — despite being born without most of his right arm — at the age of three was deemed a golf prodigy, and today travels the world advocating for other limb different children. Tommy’s father said, “My son is creating records, not breaking them!” 

Lauren Appelbaum, Director of Communications;
Jennifer Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility;
Darren Cole JobsFirstNYC 
RespectAbility’s From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities highlighted the untapped value of people living with disabilities and seems to be paving the way for more businesses to add people with disabilities to the diversity conversation and talent pipelines.