How can partnerships create a better hiring process that promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
In this episode, I am bringing two inspiring executives who are creating a huge impact on the hiring process, Nanette Cohen of JCFS and Brad Nardick of The Bazaar Inc. With over thirty years devoted to employment services, Nanette is currently the Director of the Duman Opportunity Center, a service of JCFS Chicago which assists individuals with disabilities secure and maintain employment. Nanette has been instrumental in developing and implementing a variety of employment programs for youth and adults with barriers including those who have a disability. Her specialties include program management and strategizing to implement results-oriented service delivery models. As a Certified Workforce Development Professional, she is committed to providing quality services. Nanette holds a national certificate of achievement in Employment Services with an emphasis in Customized Employment by the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators. She is currently a Board member of the Illinois Chapter of APSE and Chair of the Facility Advisory Council for the Illinois Department of Human Service, Division of Rehabilitation Services.
Brad takes a ‘People-First’ approach as a core driver of all operations and activity at The Bazaar, Inc. and its retail arm Bargains In A Box. He is a third-generation CEO of the industry-leading marketplace in the discount liquidation and deal space, overseeing the strategic direction of the 60+-year-old wholesale closeout business — which buys, sells, and ships millions of pieces of merchandise each year to and from the world’s largest household names. Brad creates meaningful connections with team members, clients, and customers by working to strike a balance between purpose and profit — to make strides toward being a better business, as well as a cornerstone of the communities it serves. He has been quoted in national business news, named to Crain’s Chicago Business’s 40 Under 40, and shared the global TED stage, delivering a ‘Talk’ on inclusion and the importance of workplace diversity. He serves on many non-profit boards, and leadership associations, and is nationally known as a supporter of hiring people with disabilities.
In this episode, Nanette shares the recruiting process and how it helps in the hiring process of their partners. Nanette also shares how their partnerships become successful through communication. Brad on the other hand shares how the hiring process with JCFS helped his business. He also shares an overview of who they hire and how it creates community and cohesiveness in his company.
In This Podcast We Talk About:
Nanette Cohen, Claudia Miller, Brad Nardick
Claudia Miller 00:06
Welcome to roadmap to the executive suite podcast, a place where we talk about accelerating your careers all tailored to the ambitious woman. We're here to have fun, feel empowered and get actionable steps to get you closer to your dream job and salary, no matter where you are in your career. I'm your host, Claudia Miller, Athena, career coach and corporate trainer who helps ambitious women get the jobs they want, almost getting them up to $100,000 in salary increases. I've been featured in Forbes MSNBC, and Business Insider put me there Top Global list of top innovative career coaches, and the creative 90 day job offer program where I teach career driven women like you my proprietary strategy on how to land a job you love in less than 90 days, all while getting 30 to $100,000 in salary increases, no matter if you're just starting in your career, or you're ready to pivot into the executive suite. My clients have been able to move to the next step in their careers successfully pivoted into new industries without having to take a pay cut and broke it into management without any prior experience. I'm coming to you with a new episode every week on Thursdays with mindset job search, interview skills, answer negotiation advice with actionable strategies you can implement today to help you get ahead in your career. Now let's get started with this week's episode. I'm so excited to have Brad Narvik on this week's episode, and he is the CEO of the bazaar Inc. and it's Rita arm bargains in a box. And we also have manette Cohen, who's currently the director of the DuMont Opportunity Center is service of JCF Chicago. I hope you enjoyed this week's episode. Let's get started. Hi, well, I'm so happy to have here today and Annette and Brad on the show. And the reason why we wanted to bring these two specific guests is because we really want to talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but not only for job seekers, but also for businesses and managers that are looking to hire candidates that also can align with your goals within the organization in itself. And of course, I'm happy to have here Brad and Annette to talk a little bit more on some of their wins and results that they received from their dei initiatives and inclusivity and how they work together and some of the success stories that they've had by collaborating. So Nanette, I'm so happy to have you on the show. Can you tell the audience a little bit more about you and your organization?
Nanette Cohen 02:28
Sure. Well, thank you, Claudia for having us. Today, I am the director of the Doman Opportunity Center, which is a program of JCF s Chicago. We're a large social service organization serving the Metropolitan Chicago area. And we serve individuals really from birth throughout their years. The Doman Opportunity Center is the employment arm for serving businesses who are looking forward to have diversity and inclusion within their workplace or enhance their initiatives, as well as job seekers with disabilities. And so our job is to that both individuals both sides of the equation and try to make the best match possible, not only for employment purposes, immediate, but also for long term relationships to both parties are happy in their endeavors.
Claudia Miller 03:22
Right. And I'm so happy and excited to hear a little bit more about the organization, all the great work that you're doing. And Brad, tell us a little bit more about you and your company.
Brad Nardick 03:32
Yeah, thank you for having me as well. My name is Brad Nordic. I am the CEO of a company called the bizarre Incorporated. We are a 63 year old family owned business. I'm third generation. And what we do professionally is buying and selling overstock consumer goods. We work with major Fortune 500 brands, and help them liquidate their excess inventory their returns. And we sell it to retailers all over the world. And within the company, of our 150 person team, about 60 of our employees are people who are coming to us with disability or people who have been incarcerated previously. And so it makes up about 35% of our workforce currently, and I've spent, I've worked here for about 10 years and about eight of those years we've been focused on creating what we call inclusive hiring pathways. And I am a hiring partner of nuts.
Claudia Miller 04:41
I love all the great work that your company is doing, Brad. So one of the things that I want to start with and then that maybe perhaps you can give us a little bit more insight. Tell us how does this happen? Like how can a business like Brad's identify like what does that recruiting process look like? And how are candidates able to benefit from partnerships like Brad and the bizarre? Sure well,
Nanette Cohen 05:03
one of our business services representatives would make initial contact with the employer and learn a little bit about them. And then it really is a benefit to us if we can see the environment and see what the employer work. Culture is like, what tasks they need. And we'd like to work with the businesses and fill positions or create positions within the businesses that are going to be good for the business, good for their bottom line. When we match the individuals, the candidates to the employers are looking at the skill set needed, as well as who can make the most contribution to that employer. So we get to know the employer very, very well as Brad can attest to we take tours, we meet the other staff, we speak to the other employees as well. What do they like about their positions, what you know, how are things going. And then we really go through our roles of candidates and see who would make the best match, sometimes we only have a few candidates to offer. And sometimes we have a lot of candidates to offer, depending on what position or trying to fill. So we work with employers to fill the current position. So this is an untapped market in today's world. And many of the individuals, despite what disability they have, they have skills, and they have ways of contributing to employers. And so that's what we're looking for that way of what an individual can contribute to an employer, then the business services representative would be with the employer every step of the way, sending however, they'd like the application to be completed, whether it's a application or a resume, an interview, and we work with the employers as well to educate them on just general disability inclusion, if a modification or a little switch in the interviewing process would be best to get that information from the individual. We do that, for instance, instead of you know, somebody may not be able to answer traditional interview questions. But if they can show you the task that the employer wants to be done, they can do that task. And so we might prompt the employer to say, Hey, can you show them a task that needs to be done and then have the candidate repeat that task?
Claudia Miller 07:37
So it sounds like you really walk through the business and the organization and say, here's how we can help you. And if you have any questions like we'll help you in order that way, the interview process and everything going on forward is really inclusive, and we're being understanding of you know, or at least being able to adapt for the interview process for this individual, correct.
Nanette Cohen 08:02
Yeah, we joke with the employers that you're not going to get rid of us. We're here we're a partner with you. We're not just coming in coming out, we can help the person with onboarding. There's some accommodations, for instance, if you hire somebody who's deaf or hard of hearing, it is actually the employers responsibility to make sure that there is an interpreter there if that's what that individual is requesting. But J CFS pays for that for the first few times and then teaches the employer how to access that, just like any other accommodation, if somebody needs something, we're there, we're sort of the experts on that for that employer. So we're a one stop shop, the employer doesn't have to call around trying to figure out what to do. We are the ones that figure out what to do and help create that. And we also educate just on disability and inclusion within the workplace, what to do, how to do it, how to make it a part of you, and not just a sidebar,
Claudia Miller 09:02
then it sounds like JCF has really does that white glove service to business owners to help them throughout the entire process? So one of the things I wanted to pivot to is so Fred, as a business owner, how has this process and been, you know, overall for your business? And, you know, overall with your some of the candidates you've already hired through JCF s?
Brad Nardick 09:23
Yeah. What's evolved over time in our hiring process and our management practices is, things start one way and we didn't really know what we didn't know, when we started doing this work. What I mean by that is, you know, we initially launched an internship a long time ago for eight kids who went to a school up the street from here who have learning differences. You know, I think on day three of the internship, we had four kids left, because we didn't really understand how to support people on the job. And we didn't really understand how to on or what people's strengths were gonna be. And so over time, you know, in partnership with JC Fs, and we've had a lot of great partners over the years. But I think the white glove service that you're describing, is essential for a company like mine. Because we were experts in buying and selling stuff. We're not experts in supporting people and understanding their needs. And so what's interesting is a really therapeutic model of employment gets introduced into a business where suddenly, it's not about filling positions. It's not necessarily about reducing turnover. But those things happen. Because we're focused on a strengths based hiring model where like Nanette is talking about, we bring people in, and we figure out what they're going to be able to do, we don't care if they can tell us about their life history, we care that they can come integrate to the team and do a job. And the other part of it is, you know, in partnership with ACFs, is what we call a whole person employment, which is basically the idea that you're not really just getting somebody for the 40 hours a week that they're out in the job, you're getting their whole life, you're getting their whole life history, you're getting their challenges. And so we try and take a really patient approach with understanding what people need to be successful. In practicality, what that looks like, is sometimes adjusted job hours, sometimes, you know, we understand that people may be having a hard time at home, so they need a little bit extra time off, we understand that people, you know, everybody learns and thinks differently. So they might need different training materials and accommodations. The list goes on and on. But we work on those things with JCF. S, so that we're not just giving jobs, but we're giving people support on the job after they get here. And I think that's what makes it work. The last thing I would say is that it's one person at a time, it's not about trying to get your hiring numbers up or get your inclusion numbers up. It's about taking each individual case, and investing time and effort to understand what it's going to take for that person to be successful, so that the company is successful, but also so that person has longevity in the job, and it can become more of a career.
Nanette Cohen 12:27
Yeah, I think that's one thing that makes our relationship with the VA czar, so positive and so beneficial for everybody involved is the communication that we have. And if there's any issue whatsoever, we're on the call, we're there person trying to figure it out what the next steps are. And if it doesn't work out, it's what we've learned from that experience. And for that candidate, what's the better avenue for them, but it's the communication that we have to make the successes really stick?
Claudia Miller 12:59
And, you know, one of the things to Brad with that. I know we mentioned this in our call prior, but I wanted to highlight this for some of the job seekers? Can you tell us a little bit more of like, Who do you hire, even within your organization to be able to create a support system, specifically where like around HR who, you know, for candidates that used to be teachers? Can you tell us a little bit more about that, because I love the fact that not only is it inclusive, but I always tell my clients, we want to make sure that the company is aligned with our values. And know all of us have transferable skills, we don't have to stay within our specific niche or industry, but instead go with a career and a company that can and is fulfilling. And that's a really pressing about the work that the company is currently doing. So can you give us a little bit like a high overview of who you are or who your target to bring into the company to create that community and cohesiveness around the organization?
Brad Nardick 13:54
Definitely, up until a week ago, our head of HR was a ADA therapist and former Special Ed teacher, he was actually just recruited away by a bigger corporation. Right. And that hasn't gotten this news yet. Yeah, but that was who was running our HR department was somebody who has a therapeutic learning background. Because that's what we value here is we don't value. Again, it's not about filling jobs, it's about getting people in positions where they're going to be successful. And that'll be our approach going forward is that rethinking what human resources even means. And I learned over time, from seeing what the opposite of that looked like, you know, from hiring people in who had all sorts of HR certifications, but who really wanted to run the company based on policy. And the reality is the company gets run based on interactions and when we have a lot of interactions happening in our building where things that would normally be a fireable offense, become learning moments, and become moments where we're going to coach people to step forward and to evolve. That is what makes this work. It's looking for all the reasons why people can be successful on the job, and trying to bring them out and emulate them versus looking for the reasons why we should fire them at the first time that they're late, or that they don't learn the job quick enough, just right before we hopped on this call, we have an individual who has vision impairment who's working in our warehouse, and she's in our first week of work, her productivity right now is about 50% of what we require. And so we're going to figure it out, you know, we're going to work with how do we get 50 to 60 and 60 to 70 versus saying, hey, they're a person who's visually impaired and they just can't do the job. So I think, internally, that's how we resource it. And the other part is, like Nanette mentioned before, we work with JC Fs, we work with our hiring partners, we open our doors anytime of day, to help bring their team in, because they're part of each employee's support network as well.
Claudia Miller 16:08
And then the net, one of the things that I mean, we've heard a lot of benefits just overall for business owners to really work and partner with JC Fs. So I wanted to change a little bit more perspectives and focus more on the candidate. So how would other candidates or job seekers out there know that they can reach out to JC FS or they will be a perfect candidate to go along and work with you? So what does that look like from a job seeker perspective.
Nanette Cohen 16:35
So anyone within the community who's looking for a job, whether they have a disability or not, can call our one point of entry phone number that we can have in the chat later, but it's 855-275-5237. And it's answered by JC Fs staff, who after a short conversation will refer that individual to the right J CFS staff member to help them. So candidates, employers, anybody in the community only needs to make that one phone call. And then it's our job to make sure we have the right connections internally to get back to that person. So it's a fairly easy process a list of standard questions to answer. And then the referral is made to the right, J CFS staff member fairly easy process.
Claudia Miller 17:27
And how many businesses do you partner with are part of the overall program would you say,
Nanette Cohen 17:32
we have hundreds of businesses that we can call on and every day we're creating new businesses relationships, because the candidates just because the bizarre has some openings, we're not going to send the next five people to bizarre, not going to work that way. So those individuals who are looking for whatever job they are, if we don't have the right employer to match them to, we will go find that employer. So typically, we working with anywhere between 150 to 200 businesses that we've established relationships with during the year. But as you can imagine, it grows constantly, it changes constantly. If an employer calls and asks for a specific job task, and we don't have anybody who can do that will let the business know that as well. We're not just going to send somebody just to say we we made a map, it's not going to work that way. That's not the way we operate. So we have our job seekers constantly rotate where we serve individuals who've never had a job before, to have high level executives who just happened to be downsized and have a disability. So we have a full range of individuals, but I can't guarantee I have a CEO every day of the week, you know, but it changes constantly.
Claudia Miller 18:52
Okay. And then when you say community, I know that located in chicago and is it within the Chicagoland area.
Nanette Cohen 18:59
We serve? Pokken like counties, we have offices and each, and now we're doing things virtually as well. We're in a hybrid model where if we need to, or that candidate would like to see us in person, that's perfectly fine. We will arrange that. Or if they would prefer doing things virtually, we can do that
Claudia Miller 19:20
as well. And what would it look like for someone like the services provided to job seekers? It sounds like you're already hurting building relationships with businesses to identify some of these job openings. What does it entail? Is it you know, a little bit more of like their location and you know, what's available to them and the type of work but for job seekers, what are some of those resources available to them? Is it resume writing? Is it career advice, prepping them for interviews? Can you give me a little bit more overview in regards to that? Yeah,
Nanette Cohen 19:50
we have a full range of services for job seekers. Whether it is helping them figure out what they want to do. I mean, many people come in and say I just want to work But I don't know what I want to do. So we can help them with that. As well as preparing resumes, preparing how to interview appropriately and properly to the follow up that needs to be done. Most of the work is done individually with the person. But there might be a group or two that we suggest that they attend to get additional help, whether they're, you know, fluid in LinkedIn or something, they need that help, then we can provide that for them. So are all the services are individually provided? It's not to say that you have to start on Monday, and you're done on the following Friday. Everything's individual if you you know, even to where you want to meet or how often you want to meet.
Claudia Miller 20:41
And if they have any questions, of course, they can reach out to that phone number you provided. And we're going to have that in the show notes as well. So if you are wondering if this is a good fit for you, whether you're a business owner, job seeker, feel free to contact them at that phone number. So that way, they can help you answer those questions as we can go into all the great things that you're doing in this episode. But there's other ways that you can get further information. So knowing that if job seekers or business owners wanted to get in contact, what are some ways that they can reach it sounds like it's the phone number, and
Nanette Cohen 21:13
the phone number or our website, which is www.jcfs.org. Go on there, your employer, there's a page for you. If you're a job seeker, there's pages for you there as well, as well as all the other services that JCF s provides. So we're a multi service organization with about 30 different services that we provide to the community.
Claudia Miller 21:37
Love it. Thanks to net and inbred if you know you're looking for job seekers. And it sounds like there's a lability, HR right now Raul, how can they find you and get more information.
Brad Nardick 21:47
Our website is that bizarre inc.com. And we have a page that specifically talks about our commitment to inclusion and there's contact information there. I'm very active on LinkedIn, and so is our company. So LinkedIn is a great place to connect with the bazaar as well. I'm not going to give my cell phone number or anything.
Claudia Miller 22:13
And I think they're not shared the company organizations number. But I'll include all the website and phone number in the show notes. One of the things that you know, and I'm glad thank you again, both of you for coming on the episode today and on the podcast. Because I really wanted to highlight organizations like yours that are working together to really provide opportunities, and also showing businesses like Brad's and and that's both organizations where they also hire employees where we want to make sure that we don't just find the next role. But we find a company that really meets with our values, creates a fulfilling career. And there's a lot of opportunities out there. And for all the job seekers out there, please feel free to reach out to both organizations. And if you need more information or specific career coaching, of course, please feel free to reach out to me but I want to provide as many resources as possible, especially right now where the great resignation is happening. And a lot of business owners are actually finding trouble fulfilling some of these job openings. So I wanted to create kind of an avenue to bring both sides, both businesses and job seekers together and highlight a little bit more of the resources out there to them. So again, thank you both for coming. And you know, like I said, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Thank you. Thank you. Did you know I have started 100% free Facebook group dedicated to making job searching easy for career driven women and help them master their interviewing networking inside negotiation skills. And we're doing free weekly trainings, covering everything from how to sell yourself to increasing your salary by 30% minimum. Plus, you'll be in there with a network of other ambitious women. So make sure to join us by texting us the word join 28449951523 And we'll see you there