Today, almost every business leader recognizes the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. The value of DE&I has been demonstrated, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
HR industry legend Larry Edmund recently appeared on our podcast and he shared that the top four issues that keep CHROs up at night were technology and automation, attraction, development (engaging and retaining the right people), and company culture (how to improve it or maintain a strong culture). While DE&I wasn’t in the top four, Larry commented that DE&I would surely be number five on the list when considering priority.
However, Larry did say that DE&I is the most commonly mentioned challenge among the business leaders he speaks to. And in fact, DE&I plays a role in those other ‘challenges’ he mentioned. How can you make sure your HR processes are more equitable and don’t ingrain pre-existing bias? How do you attract, hire and retain diverse talent? Do your people feel safe in their work environment? Do they feel encouraged to share points of view that are outside of the mainstream?
The case for DE&I has already been made to the C-suite. 79% of businesses planned to allocate more budget and resources to their DE&I efforts in 2022. But the problem is many of the outcomes companies are looking for have not yet been achieved. In our latest Talent Index research, only 18% of people we asked said they felt their workplace was more diverse than it was 12 months ago. And only 16% said they felt their employer became more inclusive.
Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The good news is there are steps that organizations can take to better prioritize their DE&I efforts (and there’s technology to help you reach your goals).
Audit your processes and set goals
A holistic approach to DE&I involves making HR processes more equitable across the board. In order to improve your processes, you must first assess what you’re currently doing – identify potential blockers or areas that need improvement. Even if you already have well-intentioned DE&I programs in place, they may not be enough.
Once you audit your processes, you are able to more easily identify potential areas of bias, and then adjust your goals and objectives accordingly to address the weaker aspects of your approach to DE&I.
For example, you may already have hiring goals in place focused on increasing the number of diverse candidates in your talent pipeline, but you may be struggling to attract these candidates, or retain them once they join your organization. An audit of your processes at multiple stages of the talent lifecycle can help you identify areas where your strategy might be falling short and help you work towards addressing the underlying blockers or biases that could be preventing you from reaching your wider DE&I objectives.
For instance, reevaluating your job descriptions may reveal opportunities for making the language you use more inclusive, or for making your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) more compelling. Once a candidate has joined your organization, do you have the infrastructure in place to support them and their needs with mentorship or development? How are employees selected for these opportunities and how transparent is your promotion process? Does everyone in your organization have equal access to and visibility into these opportunities?
Pinpointing these areas of concern and setting clear goals for improvement can help attract and retain more diverse talent, get you closer to your DE&I goals and can help make your organization’s HR processes more equitable overall.
It’s crucial to identify where your business is falling short and could become more equitable – not just in hiring but in all stages of the talent lifecycle.
Prioritize skills in the hiring process
If you want to make your hiring decisions more fair and inclusive, you must move away from the traditional model of matching resumes and CVs with a job description. If this is how you’re hiring, you are most likely eliminating lots of high-quality candidates from your search without even realizing it.
By unbundling the job and shifting your focus to the skills that are needed to do the actual work, your pool of qualified candidates becomes larger and will include the people who would have otherwise been filtered out unnecessarily. This opens the door for candidates with the skills you need, but who may have a less traditional career track, leading to greater diversity in perspectives, backgrounds and experiences within your talent pool.
While many businesses have not yet adopted a skills-based hiring process, the idea has lots of support. According to a Deloitte study, 80% of business executives say making decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, and succession based on skills (instead of previous titles, tenure, or network) would help reduce bias and improve fairness in the workplace.
When skills are the most important variable in determining a candidate’s ability to do the job, it levels the playing field for candidates from all walks of life – making your hiring efforts more diverse and inclusive.
Embrace AI in HR
To prioritize skills, you need to understand the skills your candidates and employees have, which requires accurate and up-to-date skills data. Skills are classically difficult to track, as employees are learning and developing new skills all the time. That’s where technology and AI come into play.
Organizations need to be able to establish a holistic view of all the skills their employees have. And once you know what skills you have internally, you can more easily see the skills gaps that are left – which you can either develop with existing employees or you can hire for those specific skills.
Chances are, you already have at least some form of skills data, but it likely lives across multiple disparate HR systems that don’t communicate. And if the data is not dynamic, it’s probably out of date.
Once you deploy the right tools and technology that allow your HR systems to communicate and show a dynamic, holistic view of skills, you can apply AI and machine learning to your data. The right algorithm can evaluate candidates (internal or external) and their skills to match them with open roles – uncovering candidates who may have been overlooked if this process was done manually.
AI can do this quickly (and fairly) – making recruiters’ jobs easier and your recruiting process more inclusive. It’s important to note that AI doesn’t replace the job of a recruiter, as there are opportunities for humans to oversee each step and evaluate the recommendations that the technology makes, but it does speed up the process and help reduce any unconscious biases.
Consider DE&I in all areas of the business
While DE&I is undoubtedly crucial in the hiring process, it doesn’t stop there. There are likely other areas of your business that contain bias and you may not even realize it. For example, there could be a group of people within your organization who are being promoted significantly less often than others.
Diversity and inclusion must be a consideration for your existing employees and teams. By using an AI-driven Talent Lifecycle Management solution, business leaders can identify areas where the business is falling short on DE&I – which can then be addressed by your HR team. One very effective way employers can make DE&I a core part of the company culture is through Internal Mobility with a Talent Marketplace.
Internal Mobility is allowing employees to move to a new role within the organization or take on a short-term project or ‘gig’ outside of their normal team. And a Talent Marketplace is a tool that enables these types of programs – allowing employees to view and apply for open roles internally – without bias.
Internal opportunities should be offered equally and, when these programs are done right, they can significantly increase retention rates (a bonus on top of the improvements to equitability).
And with retention issues keeping business leaders up at night, it’s critical to think about how DE&I can affect retention rates as well. Today’s talent (especially younger talent) desire to work for companies that make diversity and inclusion strategic imperatives. By neglecting DE&I, you could lose your best employees.
How Beamery helps achieve DE&I goals
While most of today’s business leaders recognize the importance of DE&I in the workplace, some are struggling to figure out how to turn their DE&I goals into real, meaningful actions.
Organizations need to be more purposeful in how they re-evaluate their HR processes, policies, and company culture to effect sustainable, positive change. At Beamery, we believe that a more holistic approach to DE&I can be achieved by creating more equitable, personalized experiences across the entire talent lifecycle.
When you create personalized experiences at every stage of the talent lifecycle (from candidate to alumni), you are removing the standard “one-size fits all” approach to talent management. With personalization, you can take a meaningful step towards creating a more inclusive environment where diverse, high-performing teams can grow and thrive.