Why Prioritizing Diversity is Necessary for Building a Successful Company with Maura Correa
Maura Correa is a Senior HR Business Partner for SoFi supporting the company's technology function. Maura has over ten years of experience in Human Resources, with a passion for building strong teams and mentoring. When she isn't working, Maura can be found chasing her two young boys in the wild Utah landscape.
How did you get your start in HR?
I never intended to get into HR. I was actually working towards a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education, when I got my first "HR" type role. It was as a payroll processing clerk and I was intending it to be the kind of job that got me through college. I was lucky enough to have a direct manager, and my manager's manager see potential in me. They continuously increased my scope and I was promoted to HR Associate, HR Generalist, and ultimately HR Manager. My manager's manager was an amazing mentor who saw that HR was the natural fit for me and my skill set. He convinced me to switch my major and get a degree in Business Administration instead. He was also the first person to teach me that HR always has a seat at the table and the true meaning of Business Partner.
What got you interested in diversity hiring?
To be honest, It wasn't until about 2 years ago when I started working in a field that has an incredibly low diversity ratio, that I even thought about diversity hiring. Prior to working at SoFi, I had been lucky enough to work for many companies that had proportionate employee bases that matched the community in which we lived. However, it was when I made the career switch to Engineering, that I saw what the impact was when our employee base wasn't diverse. Engineering traditionally has low diversity rates, especially in the gender category, but it felt even more crucial for us as we competed for top talent. The big turning point for me was when our own employees were asking us for more diverse candidates. It's great when a company adopts an initiative like Diversity and Inclusion, but it is PHENOMENAL when it is a grass roots initiative that employees from the bottom up are interested in. That is when I knew I had to double down to help our employees and our culture.
What's the biggest challenge Utah faces with diverse hiring?
The candidate pool, hands down. We need to get in front of our young female and minority populations when they are still in school and deciding what they want to be when they grow up. Secondary and closely related is Education. I can't speak about these two topics singularly. While Utah has a relatively highly educated population, our female workforce is entering into lower paid careers. Women are opting out of STEM related or high paying fields. As a business community we need to rally and help support diversity programs early in the education of our future workforce.
What advice would you give companies trying to manage a diverse workforce?
If they already had a diverse workforce, I would tell them to EMBRACE it! Celebrate the diverse cultures of your employees, and feel grateful for the diversity of thought you are enabling by having a diverse workforce. If you don't have a diverse workforce, I would tell you to prioritize it immediately. Countless studies have proven that companies with a diverse workforce make better decisions, are more in touch with their customers, and are generally more successful than their counterparts. Find local groups or organizations to partner with.
At SoFi, I started a partnership with a local organization called FIND (Future in Design). They are a non-profit workforce development program for low-income and underrepresented young adults/adult learners. We have volunteered hours and resources to help mentor, teach, and train young adults in basic software engineering skills. More importantly, we have shown these young, underrepresented students that they too could have a future in a STEM related career field if they wanted to.
What's your favorite resource for finding diverse candidates?
Opportunities with face to face interactions. We have a group of women at SoFi who attend as many recruiting events and meetup events as possible. We host events, we attend events, we sponsor, we teach, and we volunteer. It truly is a win-win situation for our employees and our business. Our employees feel personally invested in helping find their future coworkers, and fulfilling their personal desire to coach and mentor, and we reap the rewards of a happier more diverse workplace.
When and where are you happiest?
I am the happiest when I am in the mountains or deserts of Utah watching my two wild boys run free. I work really hard and really long hours, and time in mother nature allows me to forcibly disconnect.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to say no without feeling guilty. I am a natural people pleaser and I tend to take on too much and not ask for help.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Personally, my two boys. Everyone thinks their kids are pretty great, but mine are pretty great.
Professionally, my relationship with my business partners. I have been incredibly blessed to be able to form strong working and trusting relationships with the business partners I support. There is nothing more rewarding to an HR professional than when a manager comes to you for advice preemptively.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents. They are both immigrants to the US who taught me and my siblings the very definition of the American Dream. That anyone could become anything they wanted with hard work, dedication, and grit.
What's your personal motto?
I live my life by the Golden Rule. I treat others how I want to be treated. I teach, coach, mentor, parent, friend, and manage others how I would like it to be reciprocated. My business partners would tell you my tag line is "Honey over vinegar."
In closing, I am so honored to be included in this project The W Collective. Elevating women is a huge passion of mine, and I am so lucky that I get to do it as part of my day job.