A more inclusive hiring process and institutional transparency would improve Students of Georgetown, Inc. and its relationship with the community, employees and leaders of the Georgetown University student-run business said at Tuesday evening’s Corp Town Hall, hosted by the organization’s leadership to reflect on current operations.

The event, which was led by Corp CEO Alex Gong (SFS ’20) and Director of People Operations Lindsey Watson (COL ’19), drew a crowd of about 26 students, most of whom were Corp employees. The event aimed to identify areas of improvement for the student-run business, according to the Facebook event.

The idea for the town hall originated when leaders recognized the number of changes that The Corp has made in recent years, including its decision to go cashless in February and the opening of new storefronts such as Grounded, a coffee shop that opened next to Hilltoss in the Healey Family Student Center in January. Gong hoped that the public forum would create a platform for students to reflect on the recent changes made in the organization and discuss potential future ideas.

“I think over the past two years or so, The Corp has been making a lot of changes to be more inclusive, to be more sensitive and to contribute more positively to the community,” Gong said. “But so far, we have not had any formal public forums through which we can collect feedback and really connect with people on that level.”

SHEEL PATEL/THE HOYA Georgetown students, most of them employees of Students of Georgetown, Inc. discuss the student-run business’ culture and relationship with the community at a town hall Wednesday.

Attendees broke into four groups to discuss specific topics: diversity, sensitivity and inclusivity; customer experience; product offerings and affordability; and community relationships. The themes were identified to reflect The Corp’s areas for improvement, Gong said.

“We focused a lot on the internal and external issues that I think are plaguing our company, and we touched upon the issue areas that I think are relevant to the community at large,” Gong said. “We had a lot of productive discussion.”

When the groups debriefed after the discussions, students shared potential problems in the four themes. They then identified steps that can be taken to change operations, a process that yielded new ideas, according to Watson.

“It was helpful to hear some things that we can improve upon and just ideas that we had never thought of ourselves,” Watson said. Going forward, The Corp is “trying to continue to make sure that we’re improving and implementing the things that were said.”

Students who discussed the theme of diversity said The Corp should reassess its hiring process, including making sure that application readers are trained to select a diverse range of applicants. Updating the application process and questions, which have changed little in recent years, would help diversify The Corp and eliminate biases toward hiring, the students said.

Developing a more professionally focused hiring process, rather than a socially focused one, could also help alleviate stereotypes associated with various Corp storefronts, students said.

Enhancing transparency emerged as a solution to increasing diversity and forging stronger relationships with community members, according to the students at the event. One area in which The Corp should increase transparency, according to the students, regards The Corp’s status as a work-study employer: a fact that few students know. Increasing awareness that The Corp offers work-study opportunities would not only be more transparent to the community but could also diversify The Corp’s applicant pool.

Students from multiple discussion groups noted that new-hire training and training throughout the semester could be redeveloped to improve storefront service and the organization as a whole.

Customer service would particularly benefit as a result of better training, the students said. While these improvements could take several forms, ranging from new hires shadowing experienced employees to limiting phone usage during workers’ shifts, attendees said that bettering service could make a difference in day-to-day operations.

Improved training could also benefit affordability. Increased efficiency during shifts would allow storefronts to cut unnecessary shifts and save money — an important consideration, particularly as minimum wage in Washington, D.C., continues to rise.

Watson and Gong both said that they hope to have similar events throughout their time in their positions, which they are set to hold through March 2019.

“One of the biggest takeaways for me from today was making sure that we don’t just wait for people to come to us, but that we go to them, and that we’re making more intentional efforts to reach out to groups and other student leaders to show that we’re really trying to be better,” Gong said.

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One Comment

  1. The photo speaks for itself

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