The number one question I am asked by clients is, “How can you help our organization drive a more diverse workforce?” It’s a key issue for leaders around the globe, and 76% of organizations say that diversity and inclusion is a critical priority area, according to a report from PwC. But how do you go about transforming this big goal into tangible actions? The truth is that committing to welcoming diverse abilities across your workforce (contingent and permanent)is the first step in a very long journey – making it happen, that’s the tough part.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This year has put racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity at the center of the news cycle. It’s pushed us to address uncomfortable issues and sparked long-overdue conversations. This is an opportunity to challenge old ways of thinking and to be honest with ourselves on hidden inequality. This often means asking difficult questions: Do we have a diversity strategy related to talent attraction? Are our hiring processes biased? What are we doing wrong and how can we fix it? If you want to be a more diverse organization, you have to address painful issues and be prepared to make lasting changes.

Diversity doesn’t stop with talent attraction. Attracting diverse talent is crucial, but if you can’t retain and sustain that talent, you could be failing on inclusion. A recent report from McKinsey found that positive worker sentiment on inclusion lagged behind positive sentiment on diversity across the board – suggesting this is apart of the equation where many organizations are failing. You may measure diversity by numbers, but you have to embed it at a cultural and personal level if you want to succeed. If your diverse talent has a higher turnover rate compared to your wider worker population, you need to understand why.

Diverse suppliers don’t always equal a diverse workforce. In the last 20 years, organizations have made significant strides in working with diverse-owned companies. I’ve had a front-row seat – watching employers set and celebrate diversity spend goals. Now, the conversation has shifted beyond diverse spend targets. Working with diverse suppliers is a great thing, but it’s important to know that a diverse supply base doesn’t automatically add up to a diverse workforce. That’s why having the right partner and the right insights is so important. Whether you’re looking at ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender, or under-represented talent groups, it’s those individual details that can help you to understand how diverse your business is today and where it’s heading. Corporate initiatives and goal setting should be comprehensive and include core elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Overcoming diversity barriers can feel overwhelming, engaging with the right partners, blending technology and culture, and acting with integrity can help you to shape a diverse strategy that has real impact.

Boost visibility and benchmarking. Today, analytics play a huge part in diversity strategy, and building the right tech stack and working with the right partners is vital. It’s impossible to set diversity targets or attract diverse populations of people if you don’t understand the talent you have, the talent you’re targeting, or your diversity measurements. The right data, analytics, and insight can help you not only to see this picture but to understand where you sit alongside similar organizations and in key markets. Powerful analytics and worker tracking can deliver granular detail on the suppliers and workers you connect with. This is a critical step in shaping your approach and connecting in a meaningful way with workers of diverse abilities.

From hiring culture to talent technology, and your employee value proposition, every part of your people strategy must be reviewed under a diverse lens. Ultimately, building truly diverse and inclusive workforces it’s about being brave enough to challenge how and why you work the way you do and making changes that make work more welcoming for everyone.

Look for part 2 of this series where I’ll explore how you can use automation to enhance your DE&I contingent workforce recruiting strategy.

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