In May I wrote about the serious disconnect between organizations looking for the talent they need to build their business and the pool of talent looking for new opportunities. This week I witnessed true engagement on the part of an organization committed to making the connection work for all.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is a leader in the oil and gas industry on a global scale. They have weathered the current economic storm better than most with a sound business strategy and the ability to marshal all of the necessary resources, particularly their human resources.

On Tuesday we participated, in support of one of our clients, in a meeting of the Hispanic Affinity Group at COP. Our client’s work with Fortune 500 companies interested in reaching out to the Latino community, both here and abroad, continues to reinforce the value that affinity groups bring to global companies – value that impacts recruiting the necessary talent and then retaining that talent.

Many companies short sell their efforts to build a meaningful pipeline of talent. “We’re not hiring now.” “Budgets have been slashed.” “We are focused on improving productivity.” Worse yet, companies fall into the trap that this is a “buyers'” market and believe they can be selective and don’t have to work very hard to find talent.

Our experience shows us that, in many cases, the exact opposite is true. Real talent will always be selective about the organizations they work for and will do the hard work (research, qualifying, networking) necessary to find the right opportunity. They understand that companies are being selective about hiring (if hiring at all) but also have a keen sense of a company’s real level of engagement. They want to see organizations actively promoting career opportunities. They want to see organizations continue to support community outreach. They want to work for organizations that will work just as hard as they do to find the right fit.

COP is re-energizing their support of affinity groups and looking to make them more strategic and visible in terms of hiring, retention and community involvement. The day after their Hispanic affinity meeting they were out in full force at our client’s local diversity recruiting event. Key COP staff (including senior level executives) were manning the company booth, volunteering in the career help center and delivering a workshop focused on Hispanic careers in the oil and gas industry.

COP continues to scrutinize their headcount and manage their resources as diligently as any other organization in the current environment. Their actions this week, however, demonstrate their long term commitment to making the connections to the talent they will need going forward.

Is your organization ready to compete with COP for talent?