The uneven playing field
Diversity is one of the hottest topics in society today. No-one could argue that it remains an unresolved societal problem. An article published by New York Times in September 2020 reported that, of more than 900 officials and executives in prominent US positions, about 20 percent identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, multiracial or otherwise a person of color. This compares to a diversity population of around 40%. And this is arguably a slim definition of the full extent of social diversity.
Taking domestic issues to work, and work to the kitchen table
Over the past two years of pandemic disruption and lockdowns, employers have been forced through happenstance to discuss the domestic circumstances of their workers. It’s become apparent that employers can no longer ignore societal issues in the workplace.
Workers expect providers of their income to have a moral position, a perspective on societal issues. And some of those perspectives will need to be enshrined in policy: For example, whether people should be allowed to work from home for some of their working week; or whether it’s fair that someone not attending the office should be paid less, or be overlooked for promotions—even when their carbon footprint is lower, and they’re being more productive at home.
Following research into work trends, Gartner concluded in April 2021 the No. 1 executive priority should be to shift from managing the employee experience to managing the life experience of workers. They reported a tangible increase (more than 20%) in people reporting better mental and physical health, and a 21% step up in the number of high performers compared to organizations failing to provide that same degree of ‘life experience support’ to their workforce.
The argument for employers to hold an opinion
Responding to societal issues in the workplace is good for business. It drives employee engagement. According to Gartner research, workers are 6.9 times more likely to respond positively to company communications if they perceive actions to actually made a difference on a societal issue. And 18% more employees show high levels of discretionary effort at vocal employers than at companies that stayed silent. And 60% of employees report improved engagement among peers after witnessing employer involvement in societal issues.
How workforce technology is adapting to serve the socially aware enterprise
Workforce technologists haven’t been ignorant of this new trend towards diversity enablement in the workplace. The last year has seen leading edge Vendor Management Systems (VMS) like SimplifyVMS enhance their tech stack to make full use of the incoming digital innovations like AI, chatbots, big data, cloud computing, SaaS and more to shape workforce management to better serve the contingent workforce and the future of work.
Here are five examples where technology is lending a hand to create a fairer workplace.
#1 Preventing bias at hiring
Recruitment bias can introduce unintentional discrimination and result in poor decision-making. Demonstrating fairness and parity of opportunity for people from all sorts of backgrounds is not only a legal requirement but also a major contributor to a positive brand reputation. VMS solutions are today adopting artificial intelligence to expose phrases that indicate bias in job posts, and terms that could invoke bias in CVs, etc. This tooling serves to enforce positive behaviors in recruitment processes and can have a major role to play in the avoidance of recruitment bias.
#2 Exposing pay gaps across the diverse workforce
VMS interrogate a broad range of third-party ‘big data’ oriented platforms—such as Brightfield Strategies Talent Data Exchange, Gartner TalentNeuron and IQN’s cognitive intelligence engine—to make sense of job pricing data. These same investigative techniques can compare like for like salaries and pay rates across an enterprise. Exposing pay gaps across a diverse workforce is just one argument for adopting this richer level of job pricing insight now offered through leading edge Vendor Management Systems.
#3 Accommodating employment gaps
Not every absence from work is a professional career break, but sometimes, the suitability of potential candidates can be marked down in the recruitment process owing to inconsistencies in their career journeys. In cases like extended maternity leave, hopeful candidates can find themselves at a potential disadvantage. For this reason, VMS platforms are employing artificial intelligence to build a more accurate and complete picture of fairness in the candidate filtering process, as firms to eradicate this form of low-level selection bias.
#4 Helping to build and encourage a diverse community
Adopting a modern VMS means firms are able to harness a variety of mechanisms to amplify job vacancies, such as via traditional indirect channels, direct sourcing, gig working platforms and statement of work contracts. Exploiting all of these channels increases the reach of vacancies to a broader gamut of talent communities, thereby broadening diversity in the candidate pool.
#5 Serving up actionable insights on diversity using analytics
At one time, contingent workforce management systems didn’t capture data insights about diversity which made it difficult for executives to grasp the current make-up of their workforce population. The possibilities of capturing data insights on the things you care about has been transformed by big data technologies and the new generation of data visualization tooling that comes with it. Expect new VMS solutions to provider personalised reporting tools to allow executives to answer the big questions that drive change in their data driven organizations.