Talent trends: Incorporating talent diversity into your contingent workforce management program improves business performance

Talent diversity Adobe Stock

As the global economy continues to react to recent economic- and pandemic-related shocks, organizations must shift how they define, find and retain talent. In many cases, this means incorporating more remote work and using more contingent labor, like temporary workers, contractors, gig workers and freelancers. Talent management technology also has evolved to meet market demands, offering solutions around talent diversity.

“Talent diversity is no longer a ‘nice-to-have,’ but is now a requirement to attract and retain workers in all categories. Incorporating talent diversity into your contingent workforce management program is now a strategic focus for business growth, but not many companies look at it that way when they start,” said William T. Rolack, Sr., Workforce Logiq’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.

Until now, contingent workforce diversity typically revolved around supplier diversity status with little thought given to the diversity of the actual people working within an organization. While there is still a need to focus on suppliers, the shift from diversity business strategy to diversity people strategy is even more important to driving tangible, significant change.

As a result, some forward-thinking contingent workforce management (CWM) program providers have begun to incorporate ways to improve diversity into recruiting, retention and management support. Several have pushed even further into data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) specifically geared toward creating competitive pipelines of diverse talent.

Workforce Logiq, a global workforce solutions provider, has developed an AI-driven solution specifically focused on helping businesses improve their people diversity performance. The company has a dedicated staff of data scientists, talent economists and business intelligence experts who are innovating and enhancing their Total Talent Intelligence engine, a propriety and patented module that has data, analytics and insights functionality embedded in all of its workforce management solutions.

To learn more about how Workforce Logiq is using big data and AI to improve its clients’ diversity hiring practices, we talked with Rolack, Sr.

Q&A

Spend Matters: Workforce Logiq is enabling and empowering clients to manage their contingent labor forces in a way that more fully incorporates diversity. Where do you begin this change process?

William T. Rolack, Sr.: We start with an expanded conversation about how they are currently tapping into the workforce so they can benchmark where they are and define success for the organization. We want to be sure they are looking at the total available workforce — one that reflects the demographics of communities where they live and work, and of the country as a whole. This ensures there is a diverse slate that includes LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, veterans and other groups that move them beyond equal employment opportunity categories. Then we talk about how to improve their overall corporate diversity strategy and their go-to-market tactics, including how to position their internal and external messaging.

When clients understand the extent of your suggested changes, are they receptive? How do you ensure the complex nature of the process doesn’t become an impediment?

Change is always difficult, but it is most successful when senior leadership makes the commitment to look at it from a much broader perspective. For most organizations, diversity has been used as content on websites, often focused on more tactical messaging, like support of cultural celebrations. Our job is to help clients understand their broader opportunities and the impacts those can have on their business performance, employee satisfaction and retention, and the communities where they live and work. We help them see beyond their current position and advise on the actions that support commitments to all stakeholders.

How do you make sure you're truly looking at diversity in an effective way?

Our experience — based in part on client conversations — has identified a fairly consistent five-level evolution that organizations go through on their diversity journey. The journey usually begins with compliance and has the ultimate destination of true business integration that allows our clients to become leaders in their industries and sectors. Our job is to find out where they are in that journey. We help them establish benchmarks around their goals, their competitors’ performance and the actual opportunity given their business model, geographic location and other key factors.

Level one centers around compliance because regulations and legal requirements impact so many companies. For example, there are compliance policies around the Americans with Disabilities Act, working with active-status veterans and offering benefits for same-sex couples. These basic protections allow people to have their individual statuses recognized in the workplace.

When companies reach level two, there is a greater focus on activities — like multi-cultural celebrations that reflect their employees — which can foster inclusion for their diverse workforce. We have found that this is often where the journey stops.

In most cases, level three moves into the economic value of diversity and how it touches the workplace, workforce and social responsibility. Recent research and data show how diversity positively impacts revenue gains, productivity improvements and cost savings that come from a focused, people-centered diversity program. The global consulting firm McKinsey found that organizations with gender-diverse executive teams were 21% more likely to have above-average profitability and 27% more likely to outperform their competition with regard to long-term value creation. Recent Wall Street Journal research indicates that stocks of companies with strong diversity metrics outperform those from companies with low diversity scores.

Once companies understand how diversity improves performance, they are much more open to moving to level four. Now, organizations can use their diverse resources to create innovation teams, which allow them to include internal voices to define and execute business plans and solve complex business problems. Diversity councils and resource groups should include a broad range of demographics, tenures and roles within the business. Their interactions lead to more innovation across the organization, creating new best practices and identifying untapped growth opportunities — all while improving worker satisfaction and retention.

The fifth level is defined by true business integration, an ongoing process within an organization that should not be viewed as a short-term objective. For organizations reaching this level, diversity becomes an internal success driver, sales tool and competitive differentiator.

If a business commits to the evolution, what kind of immediate and long-term benefits will they see?

Incorporating true diversity practices improves business performance, but not many companies look at it that way when they start. Something as seemingly simple as celebrating culture can increase retention and create higher-performing teams. When people feel included and safe, they are more likely to commit to and participate in their organization’s success in deeper ways.

In the longer term, companies see productivity gains, cost savings and revenue growth. One often-overlooked benefit is new business opportunity. Increasingly, companies may be excluded from the buying process, including RFIs and RFPs, if they are not seriously addressing social responsibility, diversity and inclusion. If companies choose not to engage in diversity initiatives, they cannot even enter some bidding processes, and risk losing revenue and market share.

What prompted Workforce Logiq to broaden its offerings to include data analytics and AI specifically focused on diversity? What does your solution offer?

Increased demand from our clients and the marketplace around diversity led us to create an AI-powered solution — IQ Talent Diversity. It is the first solution of its kind in the CWM industry and gives our clients the edge they need to identify, attract and retain diverse talent. Not only does our technology infer gender and race, but it also provides diversity benchmarks by role, company, industry, region, country — and predicts the risk of talent leaving an organization. With our predictive workforce management solutions, our clients gain the competitive edge to retain diverse talent and develop talent pipelines to support their diversity initiatives — whether it is a direct placement or transitioning a temporary worker to permanent employment.

While Workforce Logic’s solutions are primarily geared toward a company’s contingent workforce, have you seen the information you share make its way into the permanent workforce?

Absolutely. We find that our clients often see how the data and new pipelines for under-represented workers moves beyond procurement and into human resources. When our clients are able to plot their internal workforce data, it can result in improvement to their hiring methodologies. Improvements to the contingent labor workforce brings change to the permanent workforce when diverse temporary workers transition to permanent employees.

How does your solution help large national companies deal with diversity across multiple markets? What accommodations can be made in the data?

Companies can talk about their successes around diversity from a more informed place. Before looking at the granular data, they may have believed they were doing poorly overall when they were actually successful in certain markets. Smaller cities will provide different worker pools than large metropolitan areas, and different regions of the US are home to different available pools of workers. So, companies need to know these particulars to establish benchmarks for current performance and future goals.

When companies can parse data into much smaller pieces, they can tell a completely different story. Those insights are invaluable. They can see the richness of their diversity or uncover who they are leaving out. And all categories and dimensions need to be included.

Companies that have over-indexed in certain areas can reset their methodologies. And companies need to realize that it's not about eliminating the presence of one group, but about including a larger number of groups.

This Brand Studio article was written with Workforce Logiq.

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