Exec Suite: Adecco's William Rolack

William Rolack Sr., director of global marketplace diversity

William Rolack Sr., director of global marketplace diversity and inclusion at Adecco Group North America, a staffing and recruiting agency based in Melville. (Credit: Handout)

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Diversity is a question not just of ethics but of bottom lines for William Rolack Sr., director of global marketplace diversity and inclusion at Adecco Group North America, a staffing and recruiting agency based in Melville. He said the company's diversity initiatives have generated $60 million worth of new business since 2009.

Rolack joined Adecco in 2005, having worked in human resources at several other Long Island companies. At Adecco NA his division helps client companies with "diversity solutions" in recruitment, training, development and communications.

"The scope of diversity is not just race and gender and all of the ethnic categories," he said. "It's everything from hierarchy in the company [to] educational backgrounds, titles, tenure -- the inclusion piece is what we do."

Can you briefly explain what global diversity and inclusion entails?

We help business leaders put a diversity lens on what they do, so it's not about doing an additional diversity activity, it's about merging diversity into what they do every day [and then] leveraging diversity as a differentiator in the business.

Why does diversity make good financial sense?[

Let's say] a client has had a lot of success hiring people with disabilities. So in the RFP [request for proposal] process, which [may not] ask for this at all, what we have been able to do is insert into that RFP process how we can affect their bottom line by being able to drive a diverse pipeline [of staff] into the company.

What are the challenges?

I would say it's the disbelievers. They're not so much disbelievers as they're not educated on how diversity can positively impact the business. Their mindset is that "I have a sales formula, it's worked for years, and it's never included this. I've been successful without it."

How does the economy play into all of this?

Before ''the dip'' we were probably finding placements for about 100,000 people a day. At the beginning of the dip, it got down to 40,000. But by late 2009 we began to see an uptick, predominantly in the Southeastern U.S., predominantly in manufacturing, and it's continued to grow for us ever since.

How do you find your talent?

It's a vetting process, and it's an extensive research process. One example: a client in Vermont who says, ''We're looking for diverse talent.'' Knowing the population of Vermont is not very ethnically diverse -- it's like 96 percent to 97 percent Caucasian -- I did some research and found an association of Africans living in Vermont, all different skill sets and all different backgrounds, that we were able to infuse into our process.

Do you expect increased staffing needs as a result of superstorm Sandy?

We are just getting back up to full capacity here in the Melville corporate center. Many of our colleagues are still seriously impacted by the storm, many with homes that have been totally destroyed, water damaged, loss of cars, power, etc. Our clients have been impacted by the storm as well, and we do expect there will be much work to do to support them during this recovery.

Corporate snapshot

Name. William Rolack Sr., director, global marketplace diversity and inclusion, Adecco Group NA, Melville.

What he does. "Better work, better life." Temporary, contract and permanent staffing and recruiting.

Employees. 7,000.

Roles they play. Officers, account managers, recruiters, consultants and sales.

Revenues. $4.6 billion in 2011.

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