Staffing buyers are speaking out publicly against racism in the wake of the May 25 police killing of George Floyd and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests taking place worldwide. The outcry over Floyd’s death has resulted in action by many companies who have responded by making donations, launching initiatives and announcing policy changes.
For instance, the leaders of tech giant staffing buyers Uber Technologies Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. have spoken out against racial violence in the US and have committed to spending money on initiatives and making donations to groups fighting racial injustice.
Apple recently announced it would spend $100 million to create a company program dedicated to racial justice. Facebook announced a donation of $10 million to racial justice groups — this is on top of the “roughly $40 million” the Zuckerbergs have invested annually for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice. Cisco announced a $5 million donation; recipients include the Equal Justice Initiative, Black Lives Matter and “our own fund for Fighting Racism and Discrimination.” Uber also announced in a tweet that it would donate $1 million to the groups Policing Equity and the Equal Justice Initiative.
While these moves are a step in the right direction in terms of society as a whole, what of the workplace itself? When it comes to promoting diversity in the workplace, there is still much work to be done. In other words, inclusion should not just be a checkbox but rather a fundamental pillar of a staffing buyer’s culture. Indeed, according to Pat Waders, chief talent officer at ServiceNow, even the concept of “Diversity and Inclusion” isn’t inclusive enough. She has championed the idea that without the resulting sense of belonging, such programs will fail. “D&I may capture your head, but belonging captures your heart,” she said in a LinkedIn Learning presentation.
The word “belonging” is popping up on major social media platforms and in academic circles. Many companies and universities are adding job titles such as manager of “diversity, inclusion and belonging.” The language reflects millennial and Gen Z employees’ expectations about work and diversity, experts say, because other concepts haven’t made enough progress retaining diverse employees.
The fact is studies have shown that having a more diverse workplace in terms of race, gender, religion and more is advantageous to the company in terms of resembling its customer base as well as inviting a variety of thoughts and ideas based on peoples’ varied backgrounds. These benefits can also be extended to a company’s contingent workforce.
Here are a few tips on how companies can foster a more inclusive contingent workforce that drives a sense of belonging.
Look at current strategy. Examine your company’s current strategy for diversity and inclusion and how it plays into your company’s strategy for its contingent workforce. Scrutinize any current or potential problems in the workplace, then acknowledge it from the leadership level. This should include a comprehensive analysis of the composition of the company’s current contingent workforce. This strategy can help highlight any shortcomings, which is an essential step for improvement. How does the company approach diversity, inclusion and belonging from an overall perspective?
Lead by example. Executives and senior leaders should clearly express their commitment to a more diverse workplace for the entire workforce. Clear communication from the top is crucial to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace and driving behavior that leads to a feeling of belonging. Leadership needs to ensure that the company’s contingent workers can work in an environment free from discrimination and abuse — and instead awash in acceptance and belonging. Furthermore, it is up to leaders to implement these practices and model these behaviors.
Supplier diversity. Staffing buyers should look to diversity-owned staffing suppliers not only as a source of talent but also to learn about how suppliers promote workforce diversity. Many staffing providers have promoted their own diversity certification statuses and others have promoted themselves as diversity-owned, which enables contingent workforce program managers to find them more easily. Promoting your relationship with a diversity-owned supplier can help your contingent workforce feel that inclusion is fundamental at the company. (Staffing Industry Analysts publishes an annual  list of such staffing firms based on self-reported data.)
Go beyond training and checkboxes. Many staffing buyers already had diversity training programs, and many others have rolled out initiatives in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. But firms must go beyond this. Companies should establish anti-racism into their own core principles. If necessary, policies must be uprooted and relationships between buyers and suppliers should be scrutinized to ensure compliance with values. Diversity and inclusion training should be in-depth and educational and tackle all forms of racial bias including communication, language, labeling and more. Rather than conducted as a checkbox exercise, the training should aim to help build a company culture that is inclusive of a diverse contingent workforce. Some companies have already announced that they will be working with external resources to help address the problem of racism and discrimination in their companies.