One of the biggest impacts of the racial equity movement that defined 2020 has been that people want to engage and work for corporations that have woven social good into the structure of their companies. And it’s not about these companies paying lip service or creating marketing strategies around diversity. It’s temp and perm workers taking a deep look at how your company’s hiring process is structured and what your culture is. Are you making the necessary changes to evolve the process to assess workforce gaps and create strategically diverse hiring practices? Beyond that, are you taking steps to ensure that once hired, diverse workers are greeted with an environment that is inclusive, so they have the sense of belonging necessary to keep them with you?
Companies have relied in the past on corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs to build their brands and satisfy customers. But that is no longer enough. Post Covid-19, your labor force is demanding more, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. Corporate social justice is a reframing of CSR that centers the focus of any initiative or program on the measurable, lived experiences of groups harmed and disadvantaged by society.
Enter the workforce solutions ecosystem. We know the statistics that indicate that we are not on the cutting-edge of diversity. In addition, organizations have failed to prioritize DE&I within their contingent workforces despite the business case for how such programs help companies be more profitable. But we do have intent. Due to the heightened awareness and momentum around the importance of DE&I, 63% of HR, procurement and other workforce professionals expect their organization’s contingent DE&I to become a higher priority moving forward, according to SIA research.
However, the best of intentions can easily go awry. Stated quotas to double the size of any group are illegal and draw unwanted attention from the Department of Labor regardless of what group it is, as Katherine Alvarez and Fiona Coombe discuss in their article, “Fair Crafting.” “A clear infrastructure is also key to sustaining any movement beyond its genesis,” says Kellogg School of Management Professor Brayden King in the Spring issue of Northwestern magazine. He studies how social movements influence corporations and legislative policymaking.
Legal factors notwithstanding, the fact is there is no one solution to increasing diversity. It involves many steps — starting with understanding your company’s current state-of-affairs and the demographics of your surrounding community and customer base. Many companies begin by collecting data and then identifying areas of concerns before developing objectives. Communicating the initiatives and then crafting and implementing training follow. The idea is to look at every corporate action through a diversity lens.
And that is what the 2021 Diversity Equity & Inclusion Influencers are doing. They are examining their every action through a diversity lens. They are being featured because for years they have been working tirelessly behind the scenes drawing the industry’s attention to the gaps in our hiring process both within staffing firms and in the workforce at large. Their work is the conduit, drawing attention while providing opportunities to those who fall through the cracks. They have inspired us by their dedication, commitment to a cause and effecting change at a time when diversity was not at the forefront of people’s minds.
Achieving racial and social equity in business is much more than implementing DE&I programs. The time has come for us to draw inspiration from what is transpiring around us. It is time to reimagine a new, equitable world of work with real gains being realized for the underrepresented groups and move toward it.
We don’t want this to be a flash in the pan. The ecosystem needs forward-thinking leaders to continually assess workforce gaps to create strategically diverse hiring practices and inclusive workplace environments. SIA, meanwhile, will continue to shine a spotlight on DE&I Influencers and their platforms. Our team will be diving deeper into the challenges of making change while implementing DE&I programs across the ecosystem.
It’s a long journey, and we hope to make it with you.
For those interested in making nominations for the 2022 DE&I Influencers, please register your interest to be informed when the next nomination process opens.
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