Last June, the nonprofit I help lead, Per Scholas, was invited by NBCUniversal to visit their headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center and participate in the business equivalent of speed dating – namely, speed consulting. The program was called "HR for Good" and the approach appealed to my organization since we had grown rapidly in a short amount of time, expanding from one location in New York City to six sites across the country, and from 50 to 80 employees. That growth meant we had to reevaluate many of the ways we were approaching talent management, and we were thrilled to be able to turn for help to human resources professionals at an established organization like NBCUniversal.
Per Scholas is an employer-focused national nonprofit developing tech talent in overlooked communities. Our values are deeply rooted in the belief much of our nation’s talent is hidden in plain sight: people in overlooked communities may lack the opportunities — but not the motivation or intellectual curiosity — to join the ranks of our nation’s growing tech sector. While providing over 1,000 students a year with technical and professional skills that lead to life-changing job opportunities, we remain keenly focused on ensuring that we support our talented and growing national staff. And given our rate of growth last year, we recognized the continued need to tap into critical expertise outside our organization to further our mission.
The NBCUniversal program we participated in was just a day long, and we were one of about a dozen nonprofits signed up, but the HR professionals we met were able to address our questions on topics from performance-based merit increases to alternative work arrangements. We had the opportunity to rotate between three rooms with three to five HR professionals who had decades of experience in various areas of human resources and talent management. Their depth of experience also enabled them to understand the importance of offering recommendations that we could implement immediately. Not only were the teams eager and engaged, but the environment in the NBCUniversal Talent Lab was inviting and created a fantastic space for innovation and creativity.
It is approaches like "HR for Good" that bring life to the ways that companies and communities can thrive working together − and that’s especially relevant as the lines blur between business and social good, and companies seek more intentional ways of reinvesting in communities. That is why I’m thrilled that this month NBCUniversal will hold another speed consulting session for local nonprofits as part of Comcast Cares Day, making this pro bono program an official part of the company’s 16-year tradition of celebrating volunteerism. These and other initiatives that bring together skilled professionals with lesser-resourced nonprofits is significant. Not only does it add substantial value to the nonprofit community, it provides leadership development and engagement opportunities for employees.
As Comcast Cares Day approaches and so many of us embrace April as "National Volunteer Month," I am grateful to the tens of thousands of people across the country and world who participate in Comcast Cares Day, and I challenge all of us to think creatively about the many ways we can invest time and talents in causes we care most deeply about.