First-Person View: How Opportunity Onramps Changed My Hiring Practices

A good job can change everything.

But it all starts with access to opportunity. As business leaders, it’s our duty to continually examine how we’re sourcing talent to diversify our workforce in meaningful ways.

At Workday, this effort to diversify talent through the disruption of traditional hiring practices comes to life through Opportunity Onramps®, a movement dedicated to creating economic opportunity for all. At its heart, Opportunity Onramps is about breaking down barriers to employment faced by talented people from diverse, nontraditional backgrounds.

But these game-changing career opportunities are only made possible with advocacy from hiring managers. Here’s what Ingrid Franzen, senior director, strategy and planning, had to share about her experience hiring Opportunity Onramps candidates on her team.

Ingrid’s Point of View

Ingrid Franzen

I’ve lived my life with a unique lens of being an invisible minority because of my physical appearance. While I look like I’m of Scandinavian descent, I’m actually half Mexican. My mom is from Mexico, my dad is from the United States, and my brother and I were born in Mexico. I grew up witnessing my mom being treated differently than how I was treated just because of differences in our physical appearance, and that gave me a unique perspective and level of awareness. From a young age, I realized that not all people have the same access to opportunity, so my opportunities have inspired a personal focus to lend my voice and platform where possible to others.

Much like our product itself, my job at Workday is centered around disruption, change, and transformation. As the head of strategy and planning for our infrastructure technology team, I’m in charge of metrics, I deliver software, and I am a people leader. But when people ask me what I do, I like to say that I help people achieve the highest expression of their potential—and that is my main goal and purpose.

Traditionally, as a society, we’ve hired candidates who, on paper, are most qualified for the position at hand. A lot of times, this means we’re selecting candidates with four-year college degrees, years of relevant experience in a similar role, and seamless career transitions (without any gaps, breaks, or part-time jobs) that mesh perfectly with what we think of as the ideal fit for the job.

When I first joined Workday, I went to my manager with a request: I wanted to create a talent pipeline of Opportunity Onramps hires within our organization. I’ve had great experiences at other companies hiring nontraditional talent, and I was excited to continue that here at Workday. My manager wholeheartedly agreed, and supports this hiring strategy because we’ve seen the business benefit firsthand.

I’ve had the privilege of hiring a number of Opportunity Onramps participants on my own team, including bright, hardworking young adults through Year Up who didn’t have the opportunity to get a college degree, and a military veteran through the Career Accelerator Program (CAP) transitioning to the corporate workforce after years of service. This is not just a philanthropic opportunity or exercise. These candidates are game-changing, untapped talent resources that serve as catalysts for disruption and innovation.

When I first hired a U.S. Army Ranger through CAP, people would come up to me and ask, “Where did you find him?” I’d respond with, “There’s this program that allows us to marry incredible potential with opportunity called CAP.”

Another employee I hired, a Year Up graduate, is my key strategic partner. He is essential to my day-to-day work. Without his incredible project management expertise and web skills, our team would not have the same level of impact on the rest of the organization. He is also an incredible problem solver. I can give him any problem, and he will find a way to make it work. I think this is because he doesn’t approach problems from a reporting or auditing lens. He confronts problems in nontraditional ways because of his diverse background, which is what makes him so good at his job.

These are just two examples of why I’m a firm believer that Opportunity Onramps candidates are so strategic and complementary to our workforce. And at the end of the day, it’s about harnessing talent and enthusiasm—and using that to transform the way we work. It’s my privilege to have multiple Opportunity Onramps alumni on my team. I couldn’t be more proud to work for a company that not only supports these programs in spirit, but actually invests in this type of talent and is a true advocate for creating onramps to opportunity for all.

So while we consider diversifying our workforce—and while it’s all pretty well understood in the corporate community that diversity is a measurable asset—I’d like to challenge everyone to take diversity one step further. Think even beyond basic dimensions of diversity, and think about ways to bring more diverse ideas and problem solving into your team. Think about opening up a portal to untapped talent that can help change the way your organization solves problems. Together, we can ignite a movement dedicated to creating economic opportunity for all.