Keya Koul ’96 is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion as an integral part of job recruiting. The former practicing attorney and chair of the State Bar of New Mexico Young Lawyers Division has been working with student job seekers at the University of San Francisco School of Law since 2014—first in the office of career planning and now in alumni relations.

Koul’s experience in the corporate and nonprofit worlds gives her a broad perspective on the status of recruiting and diversity in the workplace, a topic she will address in her workshop at next month’s Smith College Women of Color Conference: Persistence, Possibilities & the Power of Our Voices. Below she shares some of her insights:

How is recruiting diversity in the corporate and nonprofit worlds today different from five years ago?
More organizations are formalizing initiatives for diversity and inclusion. There has also been an effort to keep long-term metrics on how these programs are doing, and organizations are ensuring that adequate resources are being allocated to these programs.

How are things better?
I think that there are growing opportunities for people of color to get their foot in the door. In the legal profession, big law (BigLaw) firms have created and implemented diversity fellowships, as well as mentor programs. BigLaw clients are also demanding that diverse attorneys work on their matters, which really created the push for firms to institute these new programs and initiatives.

What are the challenges?
Changing corporate culture and making it more inclusive has been a challenge. Organizations have allocated resources and have created new roles to ensure that they are walking the walk, but it is not a quick, overnight fix. Long-term change will only come once leadership shows the importance and value of diversity and inclusion to the organization every day through action.

What career fields have been making progress in creating diverse workplaces?
Living in the Bay Area I see the tech field making great strides in creating and implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. Time will tell whether or not this will make a long-term impact.

What career fields need to make greater strides?
The legal and medical fields still have a long way to go.

What can we expect from your presentation at the 2018 Women of Color Conference, and what do you hope attendees will take away from it?
Launching a job search can seem daunting, but this workshop will show you how to make it fun and exciting by focusing on information gathering and relationship building. The more information you have about corporate culture, work environment, and professional growth opportunities, the more informed decision you can make about your next job and your long-term career goals. Some of what I’ll be covering in my workshop are steps to utilize diverse professional networks to enhance your job search strategy.

Keya Koul ’96 will be presenting “Diversity and Recruiting in the Corporate World” at the 2018 Smith College Women of Color Conference: Persistence, Possibilities & the Power of Our Voices, being held on campus April 13–15.