Even before the recent social unrest drew attention to ongoing issues of racial inequality and discrimination, companies were beginning to step up their efforts to build diverse and inclusive workforces, writes Anne Fulton, co-founder, and CEO of Fuel50.
In 2019, HR leaders responding to my company’s annual survey said improving diversity and inclusion was their top goal. Hiring for cultural fit and reducing bias also dramatically increased in importance compared to prior years. Those targets have become even more urgent as people focus on the racial and gender inequalities in our society and want to be part of companies that are working to address them.
Focusing on D&I happens to make smart business sense. Companies in the top 25% for ethnic/cultural diversity on their executive teams were 33% more likely to be among the most profitable in their industries, according to research from McKinsey. A study from the Kauffman Foundation found that diverse founding teams earn 30% higher returns for their investors in the startup world.
How To Meet Diversity and Inclusion Goals
Meeting diversity and inclusion goals, however, can be a challenging task. Fortunately, AI-enabled talent technology can significantly improve organizations’ quality of their talent decisions, talent pools, and internal talent mobility. Technology can also help with the inclusion of half of the equation, assisting organizations to retain employees with features that ensure you are making inclusive, fair, and transparent decisions, which is more critical today than ever before.
Talent mobility systems can benefit your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts in three primary areas: transforming talent mobility fairly and inclusively, measuring progress on your D&I goals, and developing long-term growth for ALL your employees.
1. Fair talent mobility
The first step to building a diverse workforce is to create a transparent talent marketplace. For most organizations, that means ensuring everyone across your organization has equal access and visibility to opportunities across the workplace, so all your people have the chance to put their hand up and participate. A transparent talent marketplace should ensure visibility to vacancies and stretch assignments, projects, experiences, learning, and mentors. Historically, some of these decisions have happened behind a closed door rather than a genuine democratic marketplace.
Talent systems can focus on targeting job ads to underrepresented groups. It has long been recognized that human bias can occur consciously or unconsciously. It is essential that as we incorporate AI and machine learning into our talent processes, we remain aware of the risks and ensure our systems are supportive of your D&I goals.
AI-enabled tools can help mitigate or eliminate the many biases that crop up during your talent decision processes.
One caveat: Look for devices using unbiased, comprehensive data models to ensure the best results and surface the right talent intelligence around your people practices.
Be aware of the risks in AI, as bias can appear in multiple ways. The system can learn to make decisions based on previous biased people’s decisions, or reflect historical organizational practices or injustices, so talent decisions based on historical bio-data trends can be flawed. We recommend ensuring a robust skills taxonomy underpinning your system. A 360 validation of those skills to provide a full and representative picture is presented for all candidates to promote fairness.
2. Analyzing progress
One of the most significant advantages talent marketplace systems can bring to D&I initiatives is making it easy to see and interpret company data trends. HR teams often struggle to prioritize D&I goals, and analytics can help reveal the information a team needs to determine what changes are required and where to focus its future interventions.
Organizations should be tracking seniority levels, salaries, and diversity across teams to ensure equality and fairness. Monitoring these metrics are essential to your organization’s productivity, retention, and recruitment. One key metric to watch is retention rates across women and minorities. Recruitment efforts mean little if your organization is unable to retain diverse talent. By creating an environment conducive to these individuals, it will reduce turnover and foster long term employment.
Other metrics to track are promotion rates, job level representation, employee status, and turnover. These metrics can be very informative when correlated with company-wide metrics to determine where your organization is excelling or lagging in protecting underrepresented groups.
3. Equal opportunity for growth
HR teams know hiring great employees does not mean their work is over. Providing employees with access to tools and resources that promote career development show an organization is willing to invest in its employees’ long-term career growth beyond their current role and organization. Training and professional development opportunities enable an individual to raise their earning potential and move up within an organization. Though less commonly used, technology can help a company work with employees to develop their own skills and futures and keep them happy.
Talent marketplace platforms can support an employees’ career growth journey, support mentoring, and raise visibility for projects or roles that match an employee’s self-identified values, motivations, and skills, so that all employees are supported to reskill for the future and prepare for new opportunities, across the entire organization.
4. Measuring success
Beyond systems for reporting misconduct, sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, engagement tools can ensure a positive experience for all employees. Such tools will capture honest assessments of how employees perceive an organization. HR teams will get a better understanding of the work experiences of diverse employees and a heads-up on potential problems or negative trends. In addition, some platforms include features that assess how a company communicates with its diverse employees ensuring that a company is living up to its philosophy, vision, and brand messaging.
Which best practices are you following to build diverse and inclusive workforces in your organization?