Denise Reed Lamoreaux is Global Chief Diversity Officer at Atos. Here, Denise tells us about a pen pal programme to help deaf graduates enter the world of work.
A diverse team
Here at Atos, we have been focused on increasing the percentage of people with disabilities within our organisation, as we are aware of the benefits that a diverse team bring to innovative solutions, collaboration, productivity, employee engagement, and client satisfaction. To that end, we partner closely with universities to offer opportunities for our Atos employees to engage with students to showcase the advantages of working here and to create a pipeline of future applicants.
In the spring of 2019, I contacted John Macko, Director of National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York’s Center on Employment, to establish a university recruiting partnership, and introduce the concept of a pen pal program for their women in tech majors. I represented Atos at their Fall 2019 Career Fair, speaking with the aid of an interpreter to more than 75 students from over 15 countries and 10 different majors.
Pen pal program
From there, I approached Erica Fleischman Roethel from the Center on Employment to pitch the idea of an Atos/NTID Pen Pal Program wherein university women would be partnered with Atos women to ask questions to assist in their acclimatisation to “the real world” after graduation.
- How important are transferable skills such as time management, cross cultural communication, and presentation/facilitation expertise in the business world?
- Did you face any obstacles after you graduated from college?
- Would you be able to tell me about your path towards your career now?
- How flexible is your job?
- What skills do you think are necessary for any job, regardless of what field you’re in?
- Do you have any advice on making decisions about the future?
- How do you approach risk taking?
- How do you recommend balancing the heavy workload of a college student so there’s for extra activities?
A learning experience
Twenty partners entered into a symbiotic learning experience in January 2020.
With the Atos women working in 11 different countries, most of the communication took place over email. Several set up telephone relay sessions and 2 used Facetime to communicate.
Partners were asked to communicate at least once a month during the three-month partnership, but many were meeting weekly as they were so eager to continue their conversations.
Our Atos women learned as much, if not more, than the university women, as they discovered how to effectively communicate with members of the deaf culture, making them instant ambassadors within their own work groups to speak about the benefits of working with people with disabilities.
The university partnerships are expanding in Autumn 2020 to include several international institutions and additional Atos volunteers from all diversity dimensions. The NTID partnership was the start of something lasting and impactful!