Memorable Moments From LinkedIn’s Talent Connect: the Pledge to Help Others, and the Program for Prisoners

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Sep 30, 2019
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Last week 4,684 or so talent acquisition and HR practitioners from around the world gathered in Dallas, Texas, to attend LinkedIn’s 10th annual Talent Connect. Quite a few professionals attending the event in the Lone Star State had also been at SourceCon in Atlanta that same week, and would also soon be heading to D.C. for ERE, clearly indicating to vendors and influencers alike that recruiting professionals are willing to go to great lengths to learn best practices and to obtain the industry insights they seek.

One of the highlights of Wednesday’s content was Michelle Cirocco’s session: “Why prisons hold the key to our talent shortage.” Cirocco is the chief social responsibility Officer at Televerde, a demand-generation company based in Arizona that employs women serving time behind bars. In addition to generating impressive revenue numbers for their clients, Televerde provides female inmates with a second chance at life. Through the company’s program, felons earn money, learn about budgeting, gain valuable life skills, and end their incarceration with some savings. The career-centric training the women receive bolsters their ability to re-enter society. For Televerde employees, the recidivism rate is 6 percent; national averages can exceed 60 percent. Michelle provided compelling data coupled with an enthralling human-interest narrative, and her topic fit snuggly into the conference’s theme of “Better Together.” Her gripping personal testimony about potential employers asking about criminal records on applications had attendees on the edges of their seats and she implored all present to “ban the box.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s keynote on Thursday morning combined intriguing data points with a call to action. As LinkedIn’s CEO, he covered highlights that were to be expected, such as the number of LinkedIn members (now around 645 million), but other talking points were unexpected, such as the fact that LinkedIn has been ranked No. 1 as the most trusted social platform for three years running. Facebook, in the top five for 2017 and 2018, wasn’t even in the top six for 2019. Another surprising data point: hourly workers are the fastest-growing portion of LinkedIn’s audience. When Weiner shared the company’s revenue numbers — now $6.8 billion — it seemed as if he had momentarily forgotten who made up the audience in front of him. This wasn’t a shareholder meeting, but rather a convention of people who’ve given LinkedIn that revenue, but the information was compelling nonetheless.

Social awareness was a prevailing motif during Weiner’s speech. When people look for a job on LinkedIn, they are nine times more likely to get hired if they landed the interview through a referral. The problem is that not everyone has access to those much-needed referrals. According to Weiner, three of the most impactful contributors to getting valuable referrals are whether or not someone grew up in an affluent neighborhood, went to a prestigious school, or has worked for a top company.

The team at LinkedIn wants to counterbalance these three factors by encouraging as many people as possible to take the #PlusOnePledge, which is a movement that asks people to commit to lending a hand and supporting at least one person who is completely outside of their network. People who take this pledge make a conscious decision to help someone outside of their circle before helping someone inside of their circle. One of LinkedIn’s key missions is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. One of its guiding principles is that people with equal talent should have equal access to opportunity. So far, over 60 percent of LinkedIn’s employees have committed to the #PlusOnePledge

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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