Rolling Out

Minnesota’s chief inclusion officer discusses diversity

Minnesota's chief inclusion officer discusses diversity
James Burroughs, Minnesota’s chief inclusion officer

Rolling out recently attended the People of Color Career Fair in Minneapolis, where we talked with the state’s chief inclusion officer, James Burroughs. Burroughs shared some keen insight on his role in making sure there’s diversity and inclusion when the state makes hiring decisions, and also what they’re looking for in potential candidates. He also touched on the importance of how the state should be targeting more millennials to work for them so that they can improve on their technological aspects of their job, including having the ability to ensure they’re using social media to their advantage.

Why was it important for you to get people of color out to the career fair today, and why is it important for people to know about it?

It’s important on two fronts: One, we want to make sure we reach all generations. Rolling out reaches a lot of different groups; millennials, [Generation] Xers, people of diverse generations. We want to make sure we get the word out on social media as well. The People of Color Career Fair has landed about maybe 15-20 people from these career fairs at state employment and executive level jobs, so we want to make sure we continue that pipeline and make sure people know about it.

As the chief inclusion officer, what is your role in making sure that these companies have diversity in their workforce?

Well, it’s twofold. One is we have about 30K employees in the state of Minnesota, my role is to make sure we diversify that workforce in hiring and retention. My role is also to make sure we spend money. We spend about $2B a year. We want to spend more money with minority owned and women-owned businesses. And then the third piece of my job is civic engagements; how do we engage community and corporate America in this diversity journey? And the governor has a large influence. Gov. Dayton surely supports this work on many different levels, so he influences the CEOs of the different companies to make sure they’re doing a good job too.

How does technology play a role in getting data in your day-to-day operations at work?

So, it needs to play a better role. So right now, we collect data on kind of an archaic basis. We’re getting information on what our stats are, but we don’t pipe out the good stuff that’s happening. For example, here we should be on SnapChat, we should be on Twitter, we should be on FaceBook, we should be live streaming. And our partner, the People of Color Career Fair, does a great job at doing that, but we at the state of Minnesota need to do a better job. So, we need to hire more folk like you to do some of these things directly for the state of Minnesota and get the word out.

What are some characteristics that people would need to work for the state?

Someone that’s willing to work hard. Someone who’s smart. Someone who’s creative. Someone’s who’s a go-getter and someone who’s willing to put in the time, energy and effort to do good work. But also, to make sure that they’re supporting others. One of my pet projects and something I love is uplifting others, but I expect others to do the same. So, when we hire people at the state, we’re hoping they bring us other people who they want to bring into the state of Minnesota and can work hard and do good things as well.

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