The Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis is buzzing this week, with hundreds of delegates to the Urban Financial Services Coalition’s annual conference thronging the hotel’s corridors and meetings rooms.
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But all of the action at this meeting of the nation’s pre-eminent non-profit organization for minority professionals in the financial services industry is not simply for UFSC members. With widespread layoffs hitting many financial firms and the nation’s credit markets still reeling from the after-effects of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, the UFSC is throwing open the doors of its Diversity Career Expo on Saturday, June 21, to the general public.
Several dozen major companies from a host of industries – not simply financial services – will have recruiters in place to interview job seekers. “This will be a great time for individuals at companies that are downsizing to make connections with companies that still have opportunities,” says Shawnte Reed, Human Resources Vice President at JPMorgan Chase and Chair of the Diversity Career Expo.
The job fair will also enable companies from firms outside the financial services industry to gain access to the UFSC’s many skilled professional members who may be open to changing jobs. The expo is taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 21, at the Hyatt Regency. Interested job-seekers can go to the UFSC website at www.ufscnet.org/Conference/ and then click on Career Fair, where they will find a feature for uploading their resumes for the corporate human resources people to peruse in advance. Or they may simply come, resume in hand, dressed for interviews.
In another major community outreach initiative in connection with the conference, UFSC leaders and ordinary members – who are mostly from different communities of color — will conduct financial literacy classes at the Juneteenth celebration in Theodore Wirth Park. From 1-3:30 p.m., they’ll be talking to all comers about such issues as tips for homeowners or would-be homeowners, how to avoid foreclosure, and avoiding or dealing with debt problems.
The UFSC annual conference – which is entitled “Destination Success: Powering Our Network for Optimal Performance” — will also be an important opportunity for companies to re-invigorate their commitment to diversity even in a time of economic slowdown. Sponsorship of the conference by major financial services companies such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo underlines the importance to that industry of building a workforce that is truly reflective of the nation’s increasingly multi-cultural population.
Formerly known as the National Association of Urban Bankers, the Urban Financial Services Coalition has grown tremendously since it was founded in 1974. It now encompasses 21 professional chapters and two student chapters all around the country, organized into five regions, plus a chapter in Toronto.
The conference began on June 18 and will end on June 22.
Carl Goldstein is editorial director of Words on Fire Communications, a Minneapolis-based communications and strategic planning consultancy.