On Saturday, Aug. 15, Seward Co-op hosted its career fair in the Sabathani Community Center, across the street from the future Friendship store. The fair was an immense success, with nearly 400 people attending to participate in interviews with Seward Co-op managers and to learn about working at the co-op.
The co-op promoted the event through neighborhood outreach, which included weeks of canvassing; a postcard invitation to residents within 1.5 miles of the store; advertising in neighborhood publications; and announcements airing on KMOJ and La Raza 1400. In efforts to reduce as many barriers as possible for applicants, the co-op also provided Spanish- and Somali-speaking interpreters. Several community-based neighborhood groups distributed the career fair information to their respective constituencies, as well.
Hiring a staff that represents the diversity of the Bryant neighborhood in which the Friendship store is located is a priority for Seward. With approximately two-thirds of the hiring at the Friendship store complete, 62% of Friendship staff (38 employees) identify as People of Color. In the spring of 2014, the co-op set hiring goals to be a more inclusive workplace. Our organization-wide goal is a staff that is, at a minimum, comprised of 32 percent Persons of Color by 2019. As of August 2015, 113 of 363 Seward Co-op staff, or 31% of total staff, identify themselves as People of Color.
As we move closer to opening the Friendship store and beyond, we will continue our efforts to attract a diverse pool of applicants. Owners and customers will be able to meet the new staff when we open the doors of the store at our annual meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6.