Achieving DE&I in the workforce is becoming a business imperative, but getting movement can be a challenge. Despite the obstacles, many companies have pledged to further improve their workforce diversity.

SIA asked contingent workforce program owners in its 2020 Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey about their strategy to align their contingent workforce with their overall diversity goals. While only 24% of CW programs had a strategy in place at the time of the survey, 57% said they were likely to explore doing so within two years.

But fighting inertia can be exacting, even when a company professes to want to “do the right thing.” Here are things to consider as you build your business case, and tools that you can leverage for your contingent workforce program and your company to drive DE&I initiatives.

Financial rewards. The bottom line will always be a driver of business objectives, and data strongly supports diversity as a key factor in the health of the balance sheet. According to a McKinsey study, companies in the top quartile in terms of gender diversity within their executive teams were 25% more likely than the bottom quartile to experience above-average financial performance. Ethnic diversity within the executive teams had an even greater impact; the companies in the top quartile were 36% more likely to outperform the bottom quartile.

Gauge readiness. The June 2021 “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Contingent Workforce” report from SIA shares some advice from members of the DE&I Influencers list. One such piece of advice: While you shouldn’t be afraid to have the difficult discussions, you still should keep your organization’s readiness in mind when crafting your initiatives. “Your organization may not be ready to introduce certain topics or ideas yet,” said Keisha Stephens, contingent workforce program director for Splunk Inc. So, you need to ask the tough questions to be able to assess your organization’s readiness.

  • The right questions. The Future of Diversity and Inclusion in the Contingent Workforce report looked at the status of contingent workforce diversity and inclusion efforts and what was hindering them. As I discussed in my last article, this report can help you gauge your program and ask the right questions.
  • The report also outlines the critical factors you need to consider when implementing a strong DE&I program in your contingent workforce:
    • Corporate mandate/ internal support
    • Supplier diversity/talent pool diversity
    • Data capture/technology
    • Risk/co-employment

Processes and lingo. While you make efforts to attract diverse candidates, existing tools and processes you use may be working against you. “Be mindful of your requirements, wording, skill sets and how they may be marginalizing the particular people you wish to attract,” says Wen Stenger, a DE&I consultant, in the “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Contingent Workforce” report. For example, the report notes, job descriptions often have unintended biases that can turn off diverse candidates, and unconscious biases can come into play in recruiters’ searches and candidate evaluations. Technology can help overcome these issues.

Tech effect. Used appropriately, technology can play an important role in candidate discovery. This includes online job advertising providers that focus on minority groups. However, while artificial intelligence is often touted as being able to remove human bias, the algorithms it is based on can in fact do the opposite without proper oversight. The “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Contingent Workforce” report discusses the influence of technology on DE&I efforts in more detail.

Use these ideas and tools to continue to build your business case and understand how and where to get the data to assess where your organization stands and what its goals can be. Make DE&I a priority for your company, expand your talent pool and elevate your workforce for the future. The best reason to spotlight DE&I within your workforce? It’s just the right thing to do.

SIA Resources: