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5 Things to Consider when Engaging Nontraditional Workers

Posted Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Public Policy, Advocacy, Frontpage 1, home-inthenews-1, Action Teams, Roadmap for Growth, Roadmap

On October 31, 2017, the Chamber hosted With Growth and Prosperity for All: A Roadmap for Growth Conference. This half day of learning featured Philadelphia business leaders from across sectors who spoke about best practices in how to hire, train and retain homeless individuals, returning citizens, veterans, and the immigrant community and discussed neighborhood-based initiatives and onboarding through various TANF training programs.

Media partner, WURD Radio, broadcast the program live and has made an audio podcast of the content available to stream:



The following are key takeaways from our conference speakers and top considerations when hiring nontraditional workers:


1. Make business work for everyone

Companies can take a closer look at their employment, procurement, training, HR and ownership practices and make adjustments based on the impact it can have on their employees as individuals.

2. Nonprofits are great partners when hiring

Speakers throughout the morning referenced their partnerships with nonprofits who specialize in the vetting, training and placement of nontraditional workers as key to finding successful candidates from these potential employee populations. Specialized partners are well-versed in what nontraditional workers, such as homeless individuals and TANF recipients, need to be successful in a professional environment and they can provide employers with resources and guidance when working with these communities.

3. Invest in the person to invest in community

Hiring people from the local community is an investment in both the person and the neighborhood because their experience and wages work to uplift the surrounding community. Companies embedded in and near underserved populations can create opportunity for both themselves and their community by investing in this hyper-local talent.

4. City government is a partner for business

Mayor Jim Kenney and Mitch Little, from the City’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, noted the importance of private and public partnership and emphasized that City government is committed to walking hand in hand with the business community in the efforts to engage workers from nontraditional communities.

5. Taking a chance can be smart business

By identifying someone’s transferable skills, acknowledging their hustle and offering mentorship, we can change the conversation from taking a chance on hiring from vulnerable populations to making a smart business decision.

See what else you missed at the conference:

Follow #PhillyRoadmap of Twitter ›
View event photos ›
Listen to the conference podcast ›

Thank you to the panelists and featured speakers who contributed to this shared learning experience: Donna Allie, President & Founder of Team Clean, Inc.; Nick Bayer, Founder & CEO at Saxbys; Emily Bittenbender, Managing Partner of Bittenbender Construction; H. Patrick Clancy, President & CEO of Philadelphia Works; Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast; Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-Founder at B Lab; Mitch Little, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity; Michael Pearson, President of Union Packaging LLC; Kenneth D. Penn, CPM, CCIM; Sara Lomax-Reese, President of WURD Radio; Michael Robinson, Director of Community Outreach and Hiring at Temple University; Jane Von Bergen, Reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a very special thanks to  Mayor Jim Kenney for joining us for remarks.


Next Up: Employer Roundtable on Supporting the Homeless

The Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team will be hosting an Employer Roundtable on November 29 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at the Chamber’s Center City offices at 200 S. Broad Street.

Learn more about what it would mean for your organization to employ or support our city’s homeless or panhandling populations in other ways. The roundtable will include City of Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services Director Liz Hersh, experienced employers and other service providers for an open conversation. The Chamber is actively pursuing a low-barrier employment pilot for these individuals and other avenues of support. Contact Kate Hagedorn to register or learn more (khagedorn@chamberphl.com).

If you can’t make the roundtable, please take 3 minutes to complete our brief survey that asks where we should focus our employer engagement around these issues in the future: www.surveymonkey.com/r/RoadmapforGrowth2017


The Roadmap for Growth Action Team

The Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team (Roadmap) unites Chamber members to engage with a broad range of civic and neighborhood organizations in the development and execution of policies and initiatives that enhance the economy, encourage civic engagement and support an efficient and impactful government.

Connect with Kate Hagedorn to learn more about Roadmap or attend our January 29 event: Roadmap for Growth: Exploring Business Engagement in Philadelphia’s Schools.

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