Rotarians Called to Action on Hiring People of Color

–submitted by Paul Fanlund; photo by Jeff Smith

Taylor Krinsky

Downtown Rotary is filled with civic and business leaders who influence hiring decisions as well as the culture within their organizations, Wednesday’s speakers said.

And so businesspeople in Rotary should help accomplish a community goal of increasing the employment and earnings of at least 1,500 currently unemployed or underemployed African-American parents by 2020.

That goal was set out in a joint presentation by Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and Rachel Krinsky, CEO of YWCA Madison.

The two said progress will require a special level of effort by business leaders; it will not occur naturally. Leaders must be flexible and creative, Krinsky told the gathering: “Just being fair,” which Rotarians have no doubt been, “has not gotten us to where we want to be.”

Taylor told the group that while pursuing diversity is the right thing to do, it is also an imperative because a more diverse, younger generation will drive business growth in coming years.

The two listed what will be required for success:

  • A commitment by corporate, public, nonprofit, health and higher education employers to significantly increase the diversity of their workforces;
  • Outreach to connect with targeted families;
  • An increase in the number of jobs that pay family-supporting wages;
  • Additional public and private investment in the agencies that provide job training and placement;
  • On-the-job supports to encourage retention and advancement of targeted new entrants to the workforce.

The two also focused on what business leaders should emphasize: leadership, skill building and hiring practices.

Under leadership, they pointed to a personal and organizational commitment, communication, strategic planning, tenacity and accountability.

For Rotarians to develop skills and get educated, they suggested reading, training and workshops, talking with credible peers who have expertise and using consultants.

And employers should review hiring practices, network, review position descriptions and explore the question of “fit.”

 If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation used by this week’s speakers, contact the Rotary office at, and they will email you a copy of it.

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