Maintaining diversity in a tough economy

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Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where employees are engaged and trained at all levels. From left: cardiothoracic surgeon Stephanie Fuller; nurse anesthetist Lisa Jones; respiratory therapist Alan Trauger; child-life specialist Sherry Polise; and quality-improvement specialist and nurse Felicia Alleyne.

We asked companies to describe building or maintaining workforce diversity during tough times. Here's some of what they said:

Upper Darby School District
The district holds an annual Diversity Fair for Delaware County to recruit minority teachers and administrators. A long-range plan to encourage high school students to become teachers and return to the district to teach is beginning to bear fruit.

Alpha Systems, Huntingdon Valley
Alpha Systems has made every effort to hire employees from the various communities where we live and serve. Drawing from these communities gives us access to a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds and the wide set of skills we need for our business.

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau
Hiring diverse candidates during tough times can actually be easier because the candidate pool is larger.

Brown's Super Stores Inc., Westville
Our stores in Philadelphia are in diverse neighborhoods. We are lucky because our applicants are mainly neighborhood residents, so diversity is not really a challenge.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
To ensure that diversity remains at the forefront of the business, employees are engaged and trained at all levels, especially in the leadership positions, in "Crucial Conversations," and other programs and initiatives. Additionally, the organizational culture supports the notion that a diverse workforce leads to greater innovation and business outcomes.

Voice Systems Engineering Inc., Langhorne
Respect for diversity . . . is expressed and visually communicated through multimedia display of mission and values, policies and benefits, but most of all, through a sincerely welcoming workplace culture that embraces its multicultural workforce.

University of Pennsylvania and Health System, Philadelphia
Through the university's Economic Inclusion Program, Penn is working to provide job and skill-building opportunities for local residents, buy products and services from local suppliers, and use local minority- and women-owned construction vendors for campus-development projects. We track the composition of our workforce and regularly identify underrepresented populations for targeted recruitment efforts.

Weston Solutions Inc., West Chester
In new or growing locations, we create a specific plan to address diversity and ensure that we are creating a diverse pool of applicants for new positions. Whenever we enter a new geographic location, we like to hire talent from that city. It helps us understand the city infrastructure and the passion behind their growth initiatives.

ACTS Retirement-Life Communities Inc., West Point
Employees come to our organization from 44 different countries speaking many different languages. Regardless of the difficult economic times, ACTS continually expresses appreciation and recognizes these differences while . . . working conscientiously together to serve our residents in the best manner possible.

George Washington High School, Philadelphia
Given the diversity of our school (67 countries, 37 languages), the principal selects employees that would complement our school's diversity and support school activities such as robotics, International Baccalaureate, AP classes, and after-school activities, such as wrestling, football, soccer, and performing arts.

SAP America Inc., Newtown Square
Our workforce is very diverse already, ethnically, but we intend to really focus on women in management as a key goal for the future (will include investments like mentoring programs, forums for women in leadership, talent management, new grad programs, succession planning, etc.).

Penn Jersey Paper Co., Philadelphia
Our approach to building and maintaining diversity at PJP has not changed during these tough times. We look to local organizations to assist us in finding qualified candidates from many different groups.

The Michaels Organization, Marlton
We are extremely proud that our executive team is diverse, with women and minorities holding top positions, and we strive to have diversity throughout all the levels of our organization, among both corporate staff and staff at our various apartment communities throughout the nation.

Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia
We have strong relationships with area universities, and have done a good amount of outreach to try and employ folks from Parkside and our other immediately adjacent communities. Further, Please Touch defines diversity broadly and as such is always interested in exploring opportunities with individuals or communities of varying abilities, ages, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds.

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