Mecca Santana to Discuss “Hiring for Diversity” at BookExpo 2017

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The American Booksellers Association will present the BookExpo 2017 education session “Hiring for Diversity” on Thursday, June 1, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Room 1E10 of the Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Mecca SantanaDuring the session, speaker Mecca E. Santana, Esq., the vice president of diversity and community relations and chief diversity officer for Westchester Medical Health Network, will discuss best practices for hiring diversely as well as for recruiting and retaining talent, especially in a time of limited resources.

Santana formerly served as chief diversity officer for the State of New York and as the executive director of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management. She also has a background in law.

A bookstore with a diverse staff “sends a clear and defined message that [all customers] are welcome,” said Santana. “We welcome your contribution; we value the fact that you spend your dollar here, and we value your insight and feedback to make our bookstore better, stronger, more efficient, and more able to serve our diverse community.”

Within seconds of entering a new business, people make an assessment as to whether they feel welcome, whether the business feels like part of their community, and whether they want to return, said Santana. Customers can choose to not return to a business based on their experience and also to share their negative experience with others.

For these reasons, booksellers should aim to recruit and retain a diverse staff, said Santana. “Recruitment is all about pulling people in, so how do you attract the best talent out there? How do you present your organization to talented people who have options?” she said.

To create a broader network from which to find diverse talent, booksellers should establish partnerships with organizations based in their communities, including area schools, the local chamber of commerce, or historically black colleges and universities. “There are a lot of good resources out there to tap into their networks and talent pools,” Santana said.

Retention, said Santana, is the other essential component to hiring, so offering a positive culture is crucial to keeping strong employees at your store. “It does no good to recruit talent if you can’t retain them, grow them, develop them, and invest in them,” she said. The payout is worth it if you carve out the time to make these efforts, she added.

Studies of the millennial population show that these workers will leave a higher-paying job for one that offers a personal and professional reward. This population, said Santana, is looking for connections, engagement, and professional growth opportunities.

For the millennial generation, being wedded to a business or organization has more to do with their connection to the work and how that coincides with their deep-seated beliefs than it does with a paycheck. “To tap into the millennial generation, you’re going to have to find some other way to invest and inspire them around a cause or a purpose-driven career,” said Santana.

Santana will discuss these themes and more during the “Hiring for Diversity” education session at BookExpo. See the full schedule of ABA programming at BookExpo 2017 here.

Booksellers can register for free badges to BookExpo by providing an ABA member ID number during the registration process. Booksellers who don’t know their ID number should send a request with their name, title, and store name to info@bookweb.org or call (800) 637-0037, ext. 7536.