The business case for pursuing diversity in the workforce is well-acknowledged. For the past decade, it has been documented by numerous organizations that having a diverse workforce and an inclusive environment benefits the bottom line. But it’s time to go beyond that. With the events of 2020 presenting an opportunity for us to effect real change, we at SIA are proud to introduce the 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Influencers — US and Canada list.
As workers across the globe — in particular, the evolving workforce solutions ecosystem — engage in discussions of racial justice, leaders are seizing this moment to consider their responsibilities to advance DE&I at their organizations. In studies totaling over 400,000 US employees, Harvard Business Review research concluded that it was the moral and not the business case that persuaded managers to combat social injustice. Moral language was convincing as long as the social issue was framed in line with what the company stood for at its core.
Moral imperative notwithstanding, the numbers tell the real story. As professionals in the workforce solutions ecosystem, we have to sit up and take notice. The skills gap could cost  the US economy $25 trillion over the next decade. We need people in the ecosystem committed to opening opportunities for underserved and underrepresented groups, such as people of color, those with disabilities and those from different ethnic groups. By highlighting individuals who are making an impact on DE&I, we hope to inspire the industry to push the needle forward.
This list represents a couple of firsts for us. The DE&I Influencers — US and Canada list is an inaugural one for the industry. Also for the first time, SIA in one list will be honoring individuals across the ecosystem, even vendors to the industry. People from staffing firms, buyers of staffing services, VMS/MSP/RPO providers, talent platform firms and vendors to the industry can all be nominated. It does not matter what segment of the ecosystem an individual is in. We will even consider people from outside the ecosystem as long as their nomination can demonstrate an outsized influence within it. In other words, what matters is that they have been going above and beyond to advance the DE&I cause.
The list is not a ranking and will be based on the nominations that you make. Whom should you be nominating? We are looking for people who have a demonstrable influence on our ecosystem. The DE&I Influencer is one who is having uncomfortable conversations about race, gender and equality and challenging others to think differently. As a nominator, you need to give examples of where they are speaking out on diversity and how those conversations are changing attitudes. It would be best if we could see the degree of impact and the repeatability/scalability of efforts made. Maybe they were speaking and doing things around diversity long before it became a company’s strategic concern in 2020.
Please remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to nominations. Please do not send in someone who heads your diversity program just because it checks a few boxes. We are looking at you to help us to unearth those who are making a real, demonstrable difference so the ecosystem can truly benefit. Have doubts about your nomination? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The editorial team is more than happy to answer your questions.