Contingent workforce program professionals are looking beyond supplier pools when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, wanting to see diversity among talent pools as well. For that matter, diversity itself extends beyond gender and race. Meanwhile, total talent continued to dominate conversaions more than a decade since it first appeared as an area of focus in contingent workforce management.

These are among the trending topics at SIA’s CWS Summit Europe, held in London earlier this month.

Three other themes emerged from the record-setting crowd’s networking sessions and side conversations: direct sourcing, remote workers and technology.

Here’s a recap of all five topics.

Direct sourcing. Growing in popularity, enterprise-branded talent pools are a hidden gem if utilized properly. Resources such as runner-up candidates, former employees, interns and retirees are already known but often overlooked as the scurry for finding new talent overshadows the old résumés. It’s almost like missing the forest for the trees.

Curation and proper technology are keys for success with this one. Enterprise buyers want a white-glove approach from their partners when sourcing from this talent pool because it is a branding opportunity as much as a talent opportunity. Direct sourcing is here to stay, as evidenced by the multitude of suppliers offering it as a service as well as the technology partners building tools dedicated to plugging into this talent.

Diversity. We are now beyond the point of simply discussing supplier diversity and leaning more into candidate diversity. And if candidate diversity to you is as simple as gender and race, you are behind in your DE&I initiatives. Diversity is a deeper discussion today that includes worker abilities, generational differences, neurodiversity and more. The demand for finding talent, being an employer of choice and training/development/upskilling all sit within the diversity discussion.

In one of the sessions, the data stated one in five Americans has some form of neurodiversity. This means that if you are not open to working with these candidates and training your leaders to effectively manage these resources, you are missing out on 20% of the population. We also heard that Gen Z candidates demand an inclusive culture from their future employers before considering job opportunities — and knowing that this generation is our next workforce, it’s imperative we find ways to attract them. Building employee resource groups (ERGs) that include the neurodiverse, physically challenged, and even generational groups is a great place to start in your diversity initiatives. In addition, we also heard legal advisors state that ERG opportunities is one area that even contractors can participate without infringing on co-employment regulations.

Remote workforce. Yes, many companies are moving back to in-office work expectations. But make no mistake, remote work is here to stay.

What we learned during the pandemic is that many types of work can be done remotely thanks to technology advancements, and we learned people love the work-life balance that working from home provides. One research report found that 60% of contingent workers would take a pay cut in order to work remotely. That is a win/win for everyone: cost savings and happy employees. Our discussions in London focused mostly around having a hybrid approach as the answer to what engagement managers want versus what employees want. Teamwork, communication and the desire to return to “normal” were the biggest drivers for an in-office environment. But most delegates agreed this can be done with a hybrid approach versus a full five-day in-office requirement.

Technology. AI, ChatGPT, matching, screening, engaging, skills assessments, upskilling, mobile apps and more — it’s all right here at our fingertips. But it can also be overwhelming. Where do you start?

Our experts talked about how finding the right technology is key to driving efficiencies. However, determining which jobs are best filled by humans versus those jobs that can be automated to help your humans is no easy task. The evolution of technology in staffing has been expedited sevenfold due to our rapidly changing workforce. The best advice we heard in London on this topic was to do something but do it thoughtfully and in partnership with experts in the field. Even Congress is learning that regulation of AI is critical before it becomes detrimental. Unfortunately, with technology, slow and steady does not win the race — and even worse, you will be left behind if you take a “wait and see” approach.

The best recommendation from experts at the conference suggested talking to others about what did or didn’t work for them. Use their lessons learned to guide you, don’t over-complicate your tech stack, and keep moving forward to find the most effective tools to solve problems for your teams.

Total talent. This topic has been on everyone’s radar for over a decade and is still a hot topic today. The challenge is in defining it. Breaking down the pieces of human capital management in all its forms varies depending on the organization. Even more so, understanding who is working for you is also difficult because many go undetected.

It helps to decide whether full-time employees (including those hired through a recruitment process outsourcing provider) are included in your total talent plan or whether your definition for it includes just the nonemployee workforce, as this too varies by organization. And of course, finding a tool that can aggregate the data into one source for reporting is yet another challenge many face.

One of the discussions in London around this topic proposed simple headcount tracking could be the way to go, but on the flip side, the importance of the deliverable versus how many people it takes to complete it means statement-of-work arrangements could be excluded. In the end, the overwhelming majority of conference delegates agreed that looking at your categories of labor and where they come from, deciding which worker types to include for reporting purposes, and emphasizing to your partners your expectations on what total talent means to you will help get you on your way to total talent management and an overall understanding of your labor population..

It was a great event in London, and we look forward to continuing many of these same discussions in September during our CWS Summit North America conference.