Partnering with a community college to increase employee diversity and provide students with meaningful work experience
ESL Federal Credit Union recognizes that its employee base must reflect the demographics of the surrounding community to better serve its members. However, like many companies, ESL faces challenges hiring and retaining employees from diverse backgrounds at all levels of the organization. As a nationally recognized “Great Place to Work”, ESL wants to change this.
To create a pipeline of diverse candidates, ESL joined the Talent Rewire Innovation Lab and launched a new “earn and learn” program in partnership with Monroe Community College (MCC). The program focuses on MCC students from underrepresented backgrounds in the financial services industry. Each student receives a $2,000 annual scholarship (for a maximum of two years) and is hired as a teller at ESL with a flexible schedule to accommodate their school schedule.
ESL intentionally designed their pilot to create a network of support for the students. The company provides participating students coaching, mentorship, and professional development training, while MCC provides the services of a resource navigator to help students find the resources they need for a successful experience. Another interesting design element is the opportunity for students to explore various roles at ESL after one year to match their career interests, which may include roles in marketing and human resources.
The first cohort of five students began in January 2018. After seven months, all but one student was retained in the program, resulting in 80% retention. This was the goal ESL was striving for as it is higher than the first-year retention rate for tellers. While the program demands more flexibility from branch managers, ultimately they are committed to working with the students to help them realize their professional goals. And they do see benefits. The program has provided extra coverage in the branches on Fridays and Saturdays — days which align well with students’ class schedules.
ESL has started recruiting for their next cohort of students in partnership with MCC.
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We anticipate hiring a new cohort of five students annually to build a robust pipeline of prepared and high-potential diverse talent well positioned for success and long-term careers at ESL and within the broader financial sector. Our work with the Innovation Lab has helped us to design a program we think will help us achieve these goals and create lasting impact.
Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager
This strategic partnership with Monroe Community College will enhance ESL’s commitment to developing, promoting, and retaining a talented, diverse workforce. It will benefit talented students from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in earning scholarship dollars, internship credit, and part-time employment with ESL — all while earning their associate’s degrees.
ESL Federal Credit Union
We’re very excited to continue this earn-and-learn scholars program. Students in the program have remarked at how valuable the mentoring and professional working experience has been to them, and how the scholarship was beneficial to help pay for their studies. Our hope is to expose students to our unique workplace culture, support them in their education, and encourage others to consider a career in banking.
Senior vice president, Human Resources & Community Relations
ESL Federal Credit Union