Advice from a CSR Professional: Hiring a Diverse Team

Cecilia Render
Executive Director, Nordson Corporation Foundation

As companies look to diversify their CSR teams, hiring managers must partner with their talent acquisition teams to advocate for diverse candidates to fill open positions. Long-time ACCP member Cecilia Render, Executive Director of the Nordson Corporation Foundation, has curated a very thoughtful and nuanced approach to hiring to ensure the Foundation staff represents the communities they serve. As ACCP moves forward with our commitment to advance equity in the corporate social impact profession, we’ve asked her to share her learnings and methods with us.

Tell us a little bit about the Nordson Corporation Foundation and your role there.

The Nordson Corporation Foundation (NCF) was started when Nordson Corporation started. We give 5% of pre-tax domestic profit to charitable activities every year. We give where we have manufacturing locations, and our focus is on education. I am the Executive Director of the Foundation and Community Affairs, so I oversee Matching Gifts, volunteerism, corporate donations, our annual campaign, and the BUILDS Scholarship program.

What steps do you take to ensure you get diverse candidates when recruiting for your team?

I make sure that I reach out to my network and ask that HR look for diverse candidates when they post. I also ask my team to identify those they think may want to join our team. Our last hire was an executive director of one of the non-profits we support, and I thought she would be a good match for an opening we had, so we talked, and she applied.  We ultimately hired her.

What lessons have you learned going through this process?

That HR is still comfortable hiring those that they feel comfortable with. So if HR is predominately white, then your candidate slates will be predominately white. We have to push for changes in applications, where we recruit from, diverse interview panels, and be willing to stick to our choices and be able to say why.

What does “success” look like as you hire new staff members?

I want my staff to look like the communities that we are supporting. If we support under-represented communities, we should have team members who resemble those communities. I am not saying that only Black and Brown people can understand or help Black and Brown people, but sometimes it makes a difference because we have shared history.

What is one thing you wish every CSR hiring manager would know or consider as they fill open positions?

Everyone has a set of strengths, and we have to be able to look past any differences that we see as “less than” and see differences as strengths. Maybe that difference will connect with the grant seeker or bring about a solution that has eluded the more homogeneous staff members.

What do you wish recruiters or talent acquisitions teams knew when partnering with a CSR hiring manager?

Degrees are not as important as the life lived.

What advice would you give to a hiring manager to ensure they are retaining diverse candidates?

Find out what is important to them. Salaries are good, but if people do not feel fulfilled or listened to, they will not stick around.

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