This March, The Mentor Method was honored to take the stage for the first-ever Future of Work Featured Session, “Less Talk, More Tools for an Inclusive Workforce.” In conversation with the infamous Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital fame and founder of HireRunner, and moderated by DEI expert Sage Ke'alohilani Quiamno, our CEO and Founder Janice Omadeke discussed her background, inclusive workplaces, and the challenges faced by many leaders dealing with the fallout from the Great Resignation.
Hamilton, whose company Runner matches fractional operations talent with inclusive companies of all sizes, hopes to address this labor and leadership gap by equipping her customers with action-ready professionals who are ready to hit the ground running. Hamilton created Runner after investing in over 200 companies through her venture capital firm, Backstage Capital. Repeatedly, at the time of funding (or immediately after), founders would come to Arlan with the same question: “How do I grow my team?”
Omadeke, who employs Runners on her team, can relate.
“We don’t have a lot of time, we don’t have a lot of budget, and you just need to meet the top candidate that will help you get what you need done, that will align with your company culture, and just seamlessly integrate and we’ve seen that time and time again with the team members that we’ve brought onboard by using Runner,” she said.
Hamilton hopes that Runner will be a tool to help build inclusive teams and solve the labor shortage faced by many companies reckoning with losses after pandemic labor gouges. As Omadeke notes, those leaving their roles, voluntarily or not, are often professionals from underrepresented groups. For her, this exodus of talent represents systemic issues that aren’t being addressed seriously enough.
“If a company was losing millions of customers at any given moment, you better believe the CEO, everybody in the C suite, regardless if you're in your first day of your internship, if you had some sort of transferable skill that the company could leverage to retain their customers, there would be no expense that would be too big,” she said. “There would be no amount of time that would be too extensive. There would be no amount of resourcing that wouldn't be thought of to help them solve the issue of why they're losing customers. Yet, when it comes to thinking about how you're keeping your employees, companies are just like, ‘Well, I mean, we did a brown bag lunch, I don't know what you want from me anymore.’”
For Omadeke, the solution borrows from the playbook used by many to achieve their goals as founders.
“I encourage companies to get entrepreneurial in your approach to how you keep your talent. It's important to be curious about your customer. What are they looking at now? What are they interested in? Where are they transitioning? What are their current trends? What do they actually care about? Why are they coming to you versus anywhere else,” she said.
By employing these same practices to their workforce, companies get strategic about the ways they can attract and retain talent. She encourages candor and personal connection between leaders and team members in order to reinforce the genuine level of investment in the employee’s personal and professional growth.
As the workplace evolves, according to Omadeke, it is essential for employers to remember that it’s currently an employee’s market and decades-old companies are having to learn and adapt. To that end, she commented, The Mentor Method is here to help. Some companies, she reported, are able to reduce employee churn by up to 5%—resulting in savings of up to $117 million annually.
For Hamilton, she sees a future of work that depends on achieving DEI goals.
“How can you attract that talent, if you don't represent that talent,” she said of companies who make bold DEI claims, but then have monolithic websites that don’t represent the culture they’re promising.
Want more from SXSW? Check out our recap of “Ideas Rooted in Diversity” moderated by Janice Omadeke.