AT&T has climbed to the top of the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. The publication announced the rankings May 7 during an awards dinner in New York.
DiversityInc measures companies based on four key areas: talent pipeline, talent development, leadership commitment and supplier diversity.
“We are a richly diverse and multifaced group of people. We are thousands of individuals who represent a variety of backgrounds, genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, nationalities, generations and experiences,” Corey Anthony, AT&T Chief Diversity Officer, said in a statement. “And we have been recognized for celebrating these things, receiving high honors for our continued work in hiring, retaining and promoting women, minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and veterans.”
AT&T has significant presence in several areas of Wisconsin, including the Fox Valley, Eau Claire, Madison and South Central Wisconsin, and Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin.
“The concept of diversity is not really new to the organization. It’s been something we’ve put a priority on for a number of years already,” AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden said in an interview with Madison365. “One of the hiring components is consideration of diversity. We’re always looking for diverse candidates.”
VanderSanden said the recognition of being atop the DiversityInc list is positive affirmation, but also will help in continuing to recruit a diverse workforce.
“We’re obviously very proud of it,” he said. “We’ve been on this list for a number of years, but this most recent, we were number one. It does two things. Within the employee base, having some recognition for the work that’s going on … That’s important because it helps us continue to even draw outside of the company for more diverse candidates. The more they are aware that (diversity) is something we embrace and really support, it brings us a more diverse pool of candidates in the first place. So it’s really, really good from a business perspective.”
VanderSanden acknowledged, however, some challenges in recruiting a diverse workforce in some parts of Wisconsin.
“In Madison, probably not as big a challenge,” he said. “Fox Valley, yes, there are challenges. And in Milwaukee there are challenges. And I would argue up in Eau Claire there would be challenges. The candidate pool oftentimes is not very diverse. You know, as much as a priority as we put on this as a company, all the candidates that apply fall within one category and it’s not a very diverse category, that’s somewhat of a challenge. I know in the Fox Valley, the group is called New North. That’s their economic development group. And I know many of the economic development groups across the state are looking at how to … fill the pipeline with diverse candidates.”
The DiversityInc recognition is not only for workforce diversity and inclusive workplace culture, but also for diversity in the supply chain and intentionally doing business with firms owned by women and people of color.
To that end, AT&T Wisconsin hosts a Supplier Diversity Symposium in November or December each year to help businesses owned by women and people of color become suppliers for AT&T. This effort has helped AT&T get to the point that more than 25 percent of its suppliers are owned by women and people of color, VanderSanden said.
AT&T climbed two spots from the 2018 overall list. AT&T claimed the top spot for mentorship, sponsorship and talent acquisition and also made the list of top Companies for LGBT employees.
“(Diversity) is a really good thing from an AT&T perspective, from a business perspective. It’s not something we’re doing just for the headline,” VanderSanden said. “It makes business sense to us.”