By Donncha Carroll and Devin Tyler

Practical Tips for Enhancing Talent Diversity

Conversations on diversity in the workplace are nothing new.  In the last few years there has been a lot of energy focused on women’s leadership, the gender pay gap, gender identity, etc.  However, recent events have put a spotlight on the black community specifically and many businesses are realizing the importance of responding to the shift in public opinion.  While most leaders recognize the social and business benefits of a diverse workforce, they also acknowledge that it’s not easy to address the gaps that exist within their own organizations.

As risks associated with company inaction become ever more apparent, businesses are increasingly being asked to provide information on workforce diversity so that prospective employees can assess for themselves if they want to work for these businesses.  Millennials and Gen. Z workers who now make up 50% or more of the working population are paying much closer attention to how employers are addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diverse qualified talent is in short supply

For most organizations, hiring the most qualified talent for the job often takes precedence over addressing imbalances in the workforce. In an ideal world a healthy and proportional supply of qualified diverse candidates would help to address the issue more directly. Unfortunately, the number of minority men and women attending and graduating from universities or that have the necessary skills and experiences for key positions is significantly lower than their White counterparts.

As a result, the pool of what most companies would consider diverse and qualified is limited and therefore highly competitive. Because of the supply challenges, companies have attempted to increase diversity by establishing diversity goals, promoting organizational values, altering brand messaging, etc. While these tools are useful as part of an overall strategy, they often fall short of the change needed to alter the complexions and attitudes of organizations.

To make meaningful change companies must address every phase of the employee lifecycle to shape the perceptions and experiences that impact attraction, deployment, development and retention of diverse talent – starting with the very top of the talent funnel. Digitization of resumes, platforms like LinkedIn, and other digital sourcing technologies offer new tools that can increase access to diverse candidates. There are a variety of companies now offering data assets on a subscription basis that can be used to identify where qualified populations are located to focus recruiting efforts.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2001, Spring 2011, and Spring 2019, Fall Enrollment component.

So where to start? Here’s how to open the aperture on the labor market by expanding the scope of your sourcing efforts:

1) Build Better Lists for Targeting. Mine enterprise, social media, and other publicly available data sources to identify diverse talent that have the skills and experiences needed

Start by focusing on critical roles inside your organization and on the proven sources of top talent for those roles including competitors, schools, types of backgrounds, etc. This information can be extracted from online resources (e.g., LinkedIn) either directly or through third parties and is not unlike how a sales team puts together a list of prospects to pursue in the market.

2) Score Candidates Using AI Against Diversity Goals. Leverage data science techniques to assemble combinations of data elements (e.g., school, social media connections) to infer candidate characteristics, including gender, ethnicity, years of experience, areas of interest, etc.

Certain schools, relationships, memberships, etc. can be used to infer both gender and ethnicity. Use this information to emphasize the development of talent pools that include candidates with these characteristics and invest disproportionately to build this pipeline of talent.

3) Use Behavioral Science and Automation to Nudge Prospects. Use recruiting CRMs and automated scripts to develop, nurture and balance talent pools so that pipeline issues are identified and addressed quickly.

Build a community that is always made aware of the latest opportunities coming available. Share company initiatives, communicate successes that demonstrate your commitment to diversity, and highlight individuals that have succeeded within your organization and are blazing a path that they can and want to follow.

In addition to what we outlined above the pandemic has created an opportunity to expand the scope of talent acquisition for all organizations. Remote and virtual work arrangements have already become part of normal operations and looking beyond the “backyard” for talent increases access to a much larger population vs. what may be available locally.

Parting thoughts

Companies can take advantage of the advancements in data science and sourcing technology to address key diversity gaps. Of course, solving systemic diversity challenges will require an integrated and complete strategy. It’s one thing to source diverse candidates, but how will you retain, develop, and position them for success over the course of their career with your organization? Each of these questions must be considered and strategically addressed as companies strive to do the right (and most profitable) thing starting with the top of your talent funnel.

If you need assistance with your talent strategy, contact us.

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