Transitioning from the US Navy and into the corporate world was the watershed moment that sparked Monnisha Hawkins’ passion for promoting diversity in the workplace.
“I grew up in diverse communities and schools, so the transition into the military right out of high school was seamless and had a similar, melting-pot feel,” she says. The civilian workforce was a culture shock, with her first two employers having few women in the work environment and little to no people of color. “At times, I was the diversity.”
Then, six years ago, she joined Detroit-based Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3), a woman-owned company where over half of employees represent minorities. Hawkins was drawn to S3 because of the four pillars on which it was founded: Create jobs; set the bar high for what a company should do; provide people with an opportunity to change their station in life; and make community work and charitable giving a core part of the business.
Those principles resonated with Hawkins. As director of talent acquisition, Hawkins is tasked with ensuring that S3’s talent pipeline reflects the diversity and values of S3 itself. She is especially proud to have helped increase the number of members of the S3 overhead team who have a military background — to nearly 60% from 40% — in addition to managing a sourcing team that comprises 80% military veterans, 60% being of diverse backgrounds.
Outside of work, she was VP of membership for the Black Data Processing Association from 2018 to 2020, working to increase diversity in tech industry leadership. She remains an active member in the group today.
Hawkins believes that diversity must be ingrained in a company’s culture. “If we don’t include diverse talent, then we are limiting ourselves in hiring the right people,” she says. “If someone has the aptitude and willingness to do a job, give them a chance. You can always train the skill set.”
2021 DE&I Influencers List