Analysis: DEI In Workforce Not Yet A Top Concern With Business Leaders Globally; Tips To Help Change That

Analysis: DEI In Workforce Not Yet A Top Concern With Business Leaders Globally; Tips To Help Change That

As a record number of people have left their jobs since COVID-19 began, the pandemic has prompted an earth-shattering shift of where and the way people work worldwide.

While business leaders agree this startling transition is occurring, many concede they are not ready to manage talent and apply the needed technology to support workers in this new setting.

Those are among findings from the fresh KellyOCG 2021 Global Workforce Agility survey of over 1,000 senior executives across 13 countries. “As society emerges from the pandemic, businesses have a unique opportunity to use the lessons from the past 12 months to adapt their workplace and talent management styles in support of a more fluid future,” KellyOCG President Tammy Browning stated.

However, she added, “many are struggling to find the right strategies and tools for effective change. Our research identifies key behaviors of businesses that are thriving and presents these best practices as a guide for others.”

KellyOCG is a top global advisor of talent supply chain strategies and workforce solutions. Browning manages more than $9 billion in spend under management that is part of the Troy, Michigan-based firm’s solution portfolio.

Among the most eye-popping numbers is that fewer than half of all of business leaders (43%) are executing a fully developed DEI strategy for their full-time staff, and only 19% have a DEI strategy for contingent labor. She added this past year has put racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity top of mind for many employers moving it past a “check the box” exercise.

BLACK ENTERPRISE connected with Browning via email to get her take on the report.

So why are those figures in both categories so startling? 

For many companies, Browning says contingent workers are an important part of their workforce-planning strategy – especially as they look to fill talent and skills gaps in their current workforce and build a team that’s resilient in a post-pandemic business environment.

She explained committing to building a diverse workforce through contingent and permanent talent is the first step in a very long journey – making it happen is the tough part for many organizations. “As more organizations make DEI a top business priority, I expect more employers will have DEI strategies in place for their full-time and contingent talent.”

The findings suggest that a diverse workplace apparently is not a top concern for companies in today’s business climate. Why is that significant? 

Savvy organizations know that a diverse workforce makes good business sense. Statistics show that, when companies have a complete DEI strategy in place, they understand their customers better and it can improve business performance. Creating a diverse workforce is a business priority for employers, but many organizations struggle with where to begin.

Many U.S. companies since early 2020 have committed tens of billions of dollars to fight racial inequality. Several vowed to boost their diversity staffing efforts and add more Black corporate board members. The low diversity numbers in your firm’s report do not appear to mirror those pledges. Why is that so troubling from your perspective?

There are a few things to consider when looking at diversity staffing. First, diversity must extend beyond talent attraction. This is only the first step. Organizations need to think about inclusion and how they’ll retain and sustain workers once they’ve joined the team. Second, diversity must be embedded in an organization’s culture for it to succeed and be fully supported throughout the organization, including the C-suite. Finally, working with diverse suppliers doesn’t automatically ensure a diverse workforce. Companies must have the right partner in place that is aware of and aligns with their DEI goals.

Your survey included responses from nearly 230 U.S. senior executives at the C-suite and board level. A group of business leaders called “Vanguards” were among the respondents. They report that employee wellbeing and productivity have greatly improved within their organizations over the past year, versus the “Laggards,” other respondents who report a decline in the two areas during that time. Some 94% of Vanguards reported revenue growth over the past three years, versus 36% of Laggards. What actions are Vanguards taking — and possibly other U.S. companies should be considering — to enhance their future DEI strategy,  boost revenues and improve their overall business exploits?

There are steps North American business leaders can take to put them on par with the Vanguards. Check out this press release, where KellyOCG pinpoints four key dynamics driving the Vanguards’ approach to technology, culture, and talent management.

 What other maneuvers do you suggest large U.S. firms take now to show DEI is a top concern?

Organizations have an opportunity to challenge outdated ways of thinking when it comes to creating a diverse workforce. Ask the difficult questions, thoroughly evaluate your DEI strategy and your hiring processes for bias. If your goal is to be a more diverse organization, be prepared to make lasting change. If your organization is working with a workforce solutions partner, make sure they’re the right fit and they are aware of and align with your DEI objectives and goals.