Director, Talent Acquisition & University Relations
Heidi Gerhard is responsible for the strategy, vision and governance of BASF (No. 24 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) North America talent acquisition, employer branding, university recruitment, candidate sourcing and assessment, temporary staffing and diversity sourcing/association management. Heidi works to strategically lead and impact the talent needed to meet current and future business demands.
Q: Why is your company focused on recruiting veterans? Describe your veterans recruitment/outreach initiatives.
A: BASF is invested in providing veterans with career opportunities after they have served our country. We recognize the unparalleled dedication, work ethic, leadership and problem solving skills that come with military experience. The ability to navigate complexity, manage and negotiate across multiple stakeholders, all with poise and resiliency, are incredibly valued in a global, matrixed organization like BASF.
We have a partnership with ORION, which provides us with access to veterans as they exit the military. Through ORION, we attend various conferences and career events as well as provide training for our managers on the transferable skills of veterans. In addition, we participate at veteran targeted job fairs (Hiring our Heroes, Red, White & You) and have even conducted our own private hiring events. Our Vets are actively engaged in attracting additional veterans to BASF and work to promote our brand as one of the most pro Vet Hiring companies along the Gulf Coast.
Q: Are veterans recruited for leadership positions, if so, have you had success in this area? Describe please.
A: We strive to recruit Veterans for leadership positions; however, this has been somewhat of a struggle for us, as there is often limited flexibility in the technical job requirements for our leadership roles. That being said, we work to develop our veteran talent internally and have seen a number of veterans successfully move into leadership positions during their time with BASF.
Q: Once veterans are hired, do you have programs in place to retain and develop them? Please describe in detail.
A: Our ERGs host a number of activities at the local level to retain and develop our veteran talent. In HR, we are working on some initiatives to further our veteran retention and development efforts companywide. We host new employee mixers as well as an annual diversity and inclusion event, which features short presentations by members of our Diversity & Inclusion Council and ERG leaders.
Q: What challenge(s) has the company faced in recruiting or retaining veterans and how has it overcome those challenges?
A: We are looking to increase our commitment. We have been partnering with VOWS (Veterans on Wall Street) and the Bob Woodruff Foundation for the past couple of years to further our efforts and create greater market awareness of our investment in the veteran community.
Q: Do you have a veterans resource group? If yes, can you describe how it has helped the company address or meet business objectives?
A: We have Veteran Employee Resource Groups, which both help with veteran employee engagement at our local sites as well as community support, recruitment, retention, networking and employee development. Some examples — we host a Family Day, we support a county-wide Veteran’s Day Parade (in Brazoria County) and we are looking to engage with Veteran’s Court to provide mentors for our Vets.