Shaw Industries recently received the Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities’ (SPADD) Employer of the Year award for its work on the “Project SEARCH” program—a nine-month employment preparedness initiative for individuals with intellectual and learning disabilities. Participants receive training and workplace skills, preparing them to enter the workforce.
Shaw was nominated for the award by Cross Plains Community Partner (CPCP), a local group supporting those with developmental disabilities in northwest Georgia. Shaw has partnered with CPCP on the program since 2012.
FCNews’ assistant editor, Mara Bollettieri, spoke with Mike Fromm, Shaw’s newly appointed chief human resources officer, about how the initiative aligns with its commitment to employing an inclusive workplace strategy.
How does Project SEARCH align with Shaw’s internal hiring and training practices?
Project SEARCH is a nine-month employment preparedness program that helps those with development disabilities learn workplace and life skills in order to help them retain jobs when they go out into the workplace.
It involves classroom training and immersive learning by putting individuals through different work settings. They receive a lot of one-on-one coaching both from Shaw supervisors and mentors who make sure that they really understand how to navigate the workplace, how to work safely and how to really develop their technology and social skills.
We help them on building their résume in order to not only secure a job but keep a job. One of the key things they develop through the program is self-confidence. They really feel like they’re able to accomplish a lot, whereas in the past maybe they felt like they could never live up to standards once they got out of high school.
This past year’s graduates—we had three—were all retained at Shaw. But if we don’t have a position that fits their skill set, we’ve had a high degree of success being able to advocate for them to get placement at one of our local employers. The program ties into one of our main tenants, which is to create a better future in our community.
Investing in those individuals who have disabilities and preparing them for later in life aligns with our vision of an inclusive workplace. We think that’s a critical step in showing our commitment to our community.
How does Shaw’s talent management strategy provide a competitive advantage?
At Shaw Industries, we truly believe our competitive advantage is our people. We recognize our company’s leadership position comes from agility and innovation, which our 22,000 associates make possible on a daily basis.
Our approach to modernizing our talent management strategy lies in alignment, accountability and empowerment. Our competency-based talent model aligns with our strategic business priorities and enables us to make sure every associate understands how his/her work contributes to our business outcomes. That connectivity to goals and outcomes, as well as fellow associates, is key to creating a sustainable model for our business.
How are you finding the recruitment process in this current labor market?
We’re in a war of talent and there are lots of segments where the right individuals with specialized skills are now increasingly difficult to come by, especially craftworkers and truck drivers. So we work in partnership with our local career academies and technical schools to educate and develop individuals in these areas, creating a pipeline of candidates who are ready as these jobs come open.
Tell us about your new role as CHRO at Shaw.
I’ve been with the company 20-plus years and I’ve been working in different capacities. Since taking on this role, it has really been a step in the process of getting our talent right in order to meet our business objectives. I spend a lot of time working on making sure our people are competitive and that they’re the difference makers for us as an organization.