Transforming Your Workplace Through Managing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Transforming your approach to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace from “the right thing to do” to a business imperative does not happen overnight. It is a journey that must be made with intention, openness and human enterprise.
In 2020, the global market for DEI dollars spent by companies was $7.5 billion. It is projected that the spend will double to $15.4 billion in 2026. As more organizations integrate DEI into their hiring, contingent workforce sourcing and overall corporate culture, the benefits of a more diverse and inclusive environment are being realized.
What is DEI and How to Start Managing Diversity in the Workplace
DEI refers to organizational frameworks which seek to promote the “fair treatment” and full participation of all people, particularly groups who have been underrepresented or subject to discrimination based on identity, race, religion, gender, disability or sexual preference. In relation to businesses and the workforce, it is the practice of creating a workplace that is accepting of people from a variety of underrepresented groups who may have otherwise been discriminated against in the job market. DEI aims to create equitable environments for individuals from all walks of life to bring diverse ideas to the table. DEI in the workplace helps workers feel a sense of psychological safety to be innovative and productive.
For many organizations, building a DEI workforce strategy means taking the initiative to support underrepresented groups and individuals from different races, ethnicities, genders, religions, abilities and sexual orientations. Underrepresented groups may also include people from different generations, economic status, physical location, work tenure and other differentiating factors. However, as expansive as this may appear, diversity is just one aspect of DEI. It is imperative to design a strategy that includes equitable practices and promotes inclusion in the workplace.
Having a workforce that includes a variety of enterprising minds and voices has proven not just to be the right thing to do but a profitable business strategy. A recent Forbes article cites research that shows an increase in earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization (EBIDTA) of 33% for companies with diverse workers. In addition, studies from Boston Consulting Group, Harvard Business Review and Deloitte outline the advantages for businesses that have built diverse and inclusive workforces.
Understanding the benefits of building and nurturing a diverse workplace is only the beginning. Many leaders acknowledge the significant impact of DEI; however, a large percentage of organizations around the world are struggling with launching their DEI initiatives. This is where a workforce business partner, such as Allegis Global Solutions (AGS), with extensive experience advising and advancing DEI initiatives can help.
The first step in developing a DEI workforce strategy is assessing your company’s current status. Analyzing your demographic data, digital presence, corporate culture and overall business goals helps determine what your organization requires to reach its DEI needs and informs how to proceed.
A thorough assessment is crucial because DEI needs are different for each organization. There are myriad factors in determining what groups are underrepresented in your company and, thus determining what needs to change to make it genuinely diverse, equitable and inclusive. Additional layers to consider are the countries and regions of the world where you have workers; the industry you are in; and your company’s unique history, including different regions of the world, various industries and historical context. When conducting the data assessment, it is also important to note the intersectionality of identity of individuals within your organization, as many people belong to more than one underrepresented group.
Managing DEI in the Workplace Needs Leadership Buy-In at All Management Levels
To successfully integrate DEI into your corporate culture and build out an impactful strategy, it is necessary to get leadership buy-in on the updated workforce plan from the C-suite to line-level management. This is crucial because a DEI plan touches on all aspects of your organization, from your branding image and hiring practices to your internal communications and global expansion plans.
Leadership teams often set the tone for a company’s values and act as an example to the individuals who work under their guidance. It is critical to understand that DEI is more than just opening doors to more diverse workers. Instead, it is a thorough plan towards more equitable salaries, an inclusive workplace environment and diverse hiring and sourcing practices.
While buy-in at the top levels is crucial, engaging the entire workforce is necessary to ensure active DEI integration. Lack of company-wide acceptance can lead to a disconnect in an organization. For example, when stakeholders develop a strategy but the plans are not reinforced by the recruiters, hiring managers or back-office teams, the desired effects of change cannot be realized.
If you begin your DEI strategy with true intention at every level of the organization, your DEI integration should deliver measurable outcomes and actionable results.
How to Integrate DEI Into Your Organization
Executive level buy-in is just the beginning. To really make an impact, DEI integration needs to be a top-to-bottom change throughout the organization. Though DEI strategies are customized for the unique needs of each company, some basic processes are true for most businesses.
Organizations often try to develop a DEI strategy without the advantages of an experienced DEI workforce consultant and find their efforts stall out at the beginning of the process. They may have the right intentions but not the knowledge or expertise to build out a long-term plan. The risks inherent in this approach could damage the credibility of the company. For example, if a company revamps its website and social imagery to reflect a diverse workforce population that is not reflected in its actual workforce, new hires and contingent workers who join the company may see this as deceptive and insincere. This could not only impact their individual perception but could potentially impact future prospects due to a negative online review.
By working with a proven DEI workforce advisor, the process can be meticulously planned, deployed and sustained for years, giving you the best chance for lasting and impactful change. Your consultant will advise you through the following:
Organizational Assessment:Leveraging data retained from a thorough review of workforce demographics, regional survey and overall business goals.
Strategy and Review:Creating a strategy based on the assessment data for the best path toward organizational DEI short-term and long-term goals.
Offering resources to a series of educational materials and training providers that promote inclusive actions and understanding the needs of a diverse population. For example, how to use technology to create access for people with hearing loss.
Deploying actions and best practices to achieve your organization’s immediate DEI goals and build the foundation for sustainable DEI applications in the future.
- Creating and maintaining a diverse brand image expressed through social media platforms, corporate websites, collateral and hiring materials.
- Integrating technology, best practices and diversity programs that would attract the best talent.
- Revamping and supplementing your contingent workforce suppliers to provide more diverse talent in the areas that most serve your company’s needs.
Long-Term Planning and Sustainable Practices:
Building on early foundations, setting up sustainable rules, regulations and support for maintaining and managing a diverse workplace.
- Creating or expanding employee resource groups (ERGs) as formalized support within your organization.
- Offering annual training courses that ensure new employees know your DEI values and current employees are informed of the most up-to-date DEI practices.
- Providing technology for continued data collection to maintain an accurate assessment of your workforce, how your strategy is performing and if you need to shift your DEI plan to continue towards achieving your goals.
Key Ways to Manage DEI in Your Workplace Talent Acquisition Practices
Developing a DEI strategy for talent acquisition begins with a full analysis of your recruitment process. Every step should reflect your DEI goals – from your corporate branding and unbiased job descriptions to a fair and honest resume evaluation and an interviewing team that reflects your desired candidates.
When developing a plan for recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), organizations should review several aspects of their hiring process.
Your organization’s public reputation and persona are critical when it comes to DEI. The images and language used on your website, social media, job descriptions and other digital platforms should reflect a multicultural workforce, inclusive of people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups. You want your company’s image to reflect your organizational culture.
This is also important, as more and more candidates are reviewing the digital presence of potential organizations when they decide on where to apply and with whom they will interview. It’s your public face and can impact who applies to work with your organization.
Building inclusive job descriptions is very important. It can make applying to work with your company more inviting for candidates from underrepresented groups. The job description should focus on tasks and skills that suit the work that needs to be done. It should also be tailored to the work and not to the title that person may have held in the past. For example, the job description could ask for a person with a high level of organizational skills and the ability to clearly communicate work that needs to be done instead of saying you want someone who has been a senior project manager.
By focusing on the skills in the job description, your company may benefit from a wider selection of qualified candidates. It may provide opportunities for people that are qualified but may not have been considered if you were only looking to place someone who held the same or similar title.
Another significant part of building an unbiased job description is to avoid biased language. For example, use gender-neutral pronouns in the job description and avoid phrases targeted toward people of a particular age or gender. Some companies are using online tools that help eliminate bias in job descriptions. This is a key factor in creating an inclusive and equitable workplace.
Following a job description with a fair and unbiased resume evaluation is vital to a truly equitable hiring experience. It is crucial to set up a system that evaluates each candidate based on their skills and eliminates evaluations based on certain identifiers, such as last names, race and age.
Some ways to ensure an unbiased view of candidates include:
- Using technology to review resumes
- Having resumes submitted with names, ages, gender information and other identifiers redacted prior to human review
- Providing your hiring team with unconscious bias training
The primary goal of hiring is to place the best candidates in the right positions. The importance of integrating an unbiased selection process is to avoid losing great candidates because of preconceived notions and prejudices. An unbiased hiring process also gives candidates the confidence that your company will be an inclusive and welcoming workplace where they can thrive.
Ideally, the interview panel should be diverse. When candidates see themselves reflected in the current staff, they are often put at ease and will feel that they are being evaluated fairly and without bias.
Interviews should consist of skills-focused questions that determine whether the candidates’ skills match those needed to fill the position. These questions often include past work experience, training and how they have previously handled specific work-related situations. Skills-based interviews provide opportunities to candidates that may have previously been dismissed for potentially unrelated criteria, such as level of degrees and years of work experience. Examples of skills-based questions:
- Describe a moment when you demonstrated leadership abilities.
- Share an example of when you used communication skills at work to reduce the effects of a conflict.
- Please share an example of when you had to adapt to a new situation.
The candidates should bring the skills you require to the table and not feel as if they are fulfilling a DEI checklist. It is also important for your team to get a sense of what kinds of enterprising and innovative solutions the candidate can bring to the team – and the position – from their unique perspective.
Once you start selecting which candidates to offer a position, it is crucial that you have completed your due diligence in the previous steps. This includes utilizing an objective set of criteria to score and rank the candidates.
If due diligence is met in the previous steps, you and the candidate should both be secure in the decision to work together. The candidate should feel that your company has an inclusive workplace that will encourage them to not just contribute to their job but thrive and grow to advanced positions that will be advantageous to them as well as the company.
Should You Incorporate DEI in Your Contingent Workforce Strategy?
The global contingent workforce market size is expected to reach $325.7 trillion by 2028. That’s a market growth increase of 10.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next few years. The increased spend equates to a larger number of contingent workers in the market, so it is imperative that the individuals who comprise this significant part of your organization are included in your DEI strategy.
When developing your DEI plan for a contingent workforce, there are often different criteria to consider than with an RPO strategy. The challenges that many organizations face with gig workers, consultants and contractors are complete visibility into the demographic information of the workers and monitoring their diversity spend. Having a fully transparent, 360-degree view of your entire workforce is crucial for achieving your ultimate DEI goals.
It can be difficult to gather much-needed data from suppliers, especially when you have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of suppliers located around the world. This is where an experienced managed service provider (MSP) can close the gap with technology, expertise and supplier connections.
Your MSP manages the suppliers and your contingent workforce to provide you with the data you need. By integrating innovative workforce technologies, your MSP can help you gain visibility into your contingent workforce demographics that – when combined with your employee data – provides a more accurate view into your entire workforce. This is critical in analyzing your trends and metrics related to representation goals. Your MSP should also have partnerships with trusted suppliers that specialize in talent diversity, such as Career Circle, BravoTECH or The Mom Project, to fulfill your DEI goals and spend strategy. Through your contingent workforce, you may even be able to achieve your DEI goals faster than through direct hires.
Another challenging aspect of DEI and your contingent workforce is to develop an inclusive workplace that brings together your entire workforce. Often, there is a sense of separation between the company employees and the extended workforce. With the number of contingent workers growing worldwide, developing an inclusive work environment that provides a space for all members of your workforce to be their authentic and enterprising selves is a business imperative. It is also important to note that the contract-to-hire aspect of engaging contingent workers is a massive pipeline for permanent employees, so including DEI in your contingent workforce will ultimately impact your permanent workforce.
Questions to Ask Your MSP Partner When Developing a DEI Workforce Plan
In recent years, more and more companies have begun to see the benefits of cultivating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. However, the challenge comes in exactly how to do that and whom you can trust to partner with to achieve desired results. Not all workforce business experts have experience, suppliers and knowledge in the DEI space, so it is important to know the DEI capabilities and successes of your potential partner.
Below are a few questions that may help you ascertain if your workforce solutions partner can help you achieve your DEI goals.
How Can Your Staffing MSP Partner Impact Diversity in the Workplace?
It is important that your partner knows to prioritize your DEI goals that are most critical in attracting a diverse pool of talent. Once they have established what is necessary to meet your business needs, you can work together to build an inclusive workforce strategy that focuses on those goals.
They should also examine local data and analytics to understand what the market looks like and highlight key areas of focus for your company’s ongoing DEI recruitment and extended workforce strategy. The goal is to make sure you set the right parameters to identify how the diversity of your workforce mirrors the diversity of your available talent pool.
How Can Your MSP Partner Support a Strategy that Solves Specific DEI Issues?
An MSP partner is in a unique position to educate and influence suppliers. With a focused strategy, the program can move the needle on improving diversity in the candidates presented by those suppliers.
For example, at AGS, we ran a half-day diversity forum for one of our clients in the financial sector. They came to us with clear goals and expectations around how they wanted to impact representation in their workforce. We included the client’s culture strategy in their supplier manual to ensure all functions – talent acquisition, HR and procurement – were aligned and collaborating when developing the DEI workforce plan. These efforts almost doubled the number of hires from their diversity slate.
Metrics Your Workforce Partner Can Track to Measure DEI Workplace Progress
A critical factor in ensuring that you reach your DEI targets is monitoring what is happening on the ground. Here are three metrics you can use to gauge the success of your diversity initiatives.
Diversity of Slate
How diverse are the people you are considering for interviews? Is the slate skewed heavily in favor of overrepresented groups? You should aim for a balance of different groups that reflect your community.
Diversity of Hire
Do your hiring decisions reflect the diversity of the slate? How well do your actual hires mirror your ideal diversity goals?
Tenure of Diverse Hire
Among underrepresented hires, how long do they stay with your company? Attracting diverse talent is one thing, but an inclusive workplace and culture are essential for people from underrepresented groups to feel valued. In general, employees who feel fulfilled at work will have a longer tenure.
A Global View of Managing DEI in the Workplace
What defines diversity is different for each organization, but even more so when you view DEI from a global landscape. For global enterprises, navigating what DEI means while addressing the unique needs to advance efforts across multiple regions, countries and cultures is an ever-shifting challenge.
Every country has unique histories, demographic makeup and cultural biases that need to be taken into consideration when developing a global DEI workforce strategy. Factors such as gender pay gaps, rights for persons with disabilities and which cultures are underrepresented are very different in European, Middle Eastern and African countries (EMEA) than in Asian-Pacific (APAC) countries. Your team also needs to be up to date with various laws and regulations in these countries. Partnering with a knowledgeable DEI workforce management team that is also well versed in global nuances will help you drive positive business outcomes.
At AGS, we conduct ongoing research on the global DEI landscape to provide our clients with the best data and knowledge for achieving their goals. After all, data is the foundation on which we empower clients to build workforce strategies to attract and retain productive, inclusive and enterprising talent.
Managing DEI Workforce Maintenance and Growth
Taking the steps from planning your DEI strategy to execution is important to achieving your business goals and incorporating the benefits of a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Once your strategy has been deployed, and your organization has reached its initial goals, the next phase is to maintain the progress you’ve made and continue to develop and grow.
Efforts should be made to maintain your diverse and inclusive branding and ensure that your branding is a true reflection of your workforce. It is imperative that you develop internal strategies to make sure your teams feel included, heard and productive. Some companies create employee resource groups (ERGs), which are small, employee-led groups that provide support and a safe space for workers from underrepresented groups to commune and connect within your organization. At AGS, we have over a dozen ERGs to support our workers from a variety of backgrounds and identities, such as veterans, women, LGBTQ+ team members, persons with disabilities and many more.
Open communication and transparency throughout the organization will also help maintain a sense of inclusion and promote even more participation and loyalty from your workers. As goals are reached, and your workforce evolves, your DEI needs and strategies will change as well. Communicating these updated goals to all levels of your leadership should ensure that your organization continues to grow and move forward.
Ongoing assessment and evaluation of your organization’s DEI status will also determine if your strategies are working and whether they are appropriate to your company’s needs. Keeping tabs on your DEI status will help your organization further develop to include additional aspects of DEI, such as belonging, access and justice:
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB): Deepening a sense that your workers are not just included in the organization but belong as equal members of the team. This is also true for contingent workers, who often are not treated as if they belong with permanent employees.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA): Providing access to all workers to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed and grow in the organization.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ): Deploying practices that promote social justice for underrepresented groups and adopting language that is inclusive and positive for all workers.
Impact Equity at Every Angle
AGS’ overall goal is to grasp our customers’ comprehensive DEI approach and become a collaborative partner when it comes to DEI. With this collaboration, we aspire to have the opportunity to impact the workers and the industry positively. AGS’ DEI assessment focuses on four areas: talent diversity, screening and selection, organizational support and inclusive branding.
Assessing, developing, deploying and maintaining a DEI strategy that can evolve and benefit your organization is not just the right thing to do; it is imperative to a successful future in our evolving and interconnected world. At AGS, we tailor solutions that help our clients build a diverse workforce and foster an equitable and inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong, are seen and can succeed. We strongly believe that embracing a DEI strategy positions our clients as global leaders and poises them for continuous growth in the future.