Workplace D&I in 2021 will keep the external community in mind

Editor’s Note: This story is part of the HR Dive Outlook on 2021, a series on the trends that will shape the industry in 2021. For an overview of business trends affecting other industries, see the Dive Outlook on 2021.

The business case for inclusion and diversity remains “strong” and the relationship between the various leadership teams and the “likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time,” said a May McKinsey & Company Report find. But with many companies that are inspired by research and inclusion priority in the workplace in 2020, societal events forced employers to revisit their diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) initiatives.

Many employers have committed to unprecedented levels of support for racial equality and investing in communities as calls for racial justice increased during the summer. Employers have assessed the internal DEI, and some have taken action. The same corporate response momentum continued in 2021, following the U.S. Capitol insurgency on January 6. Following the insurgency, some business leaders took quick action to dismiss the employees concerned. The speed of the response was “unprecedented” as employers have traditionally tried to stay out of external matters, Maurice Schweitzer, professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told HR Dive in a recent interview.

Employees now expect companies to have a direct and positive impact on the workforce and the communities they serve, industry experts at IBM and Randstad North America told HR Dive, and DCI’s plans in 2021 will directly reflect this expanded interest.

A stronger link between DCI and CSR

Going forward, the internal work of DEI professionals may include increased coordination with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) teams, who oversee an organization’s external social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with parties. stakeholders. “There are reasons to believe this given the measures which have taken place recently”, Grace Suh, Vice President of Education, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility told HR Dive in an interview.

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable updated its statement of intent, signed by more than 180 CEOs. “They were committed not only to leading their businesses on behalf of shareholders, but also to considering employees, suppliers, customers and communities,” said Suh. At IBM, the CSR co-creation model is a partnership strategy requiring collaboration with three groups of stakeholders: IBM’s sales teams, employees and external partners, according to one white paper released by the tech giant in January 2020.

IBM has a set of shared values ​​across the company, Suh said. “What we do internally is what we think externally,” she said. “What we do externally is reflected in what we do internally, and there is a commitment to including diversity. Certainly we can and always must do more, improve and evolve, and I think that we have always moved in this direction, ”said Suh. .

Among business, there is a “growing understanding that we need to invest in communities that have historically been denied access to equitable social and economic opportunities,” she said. For example, last year, A ten, a coalition of executives, has pledged to hire 1 million black employees over the next 10 years, Suh said. The coalition connects employers with talented partners and community-based nonprofits that support the development of diverse talent, according to its website. Such collaborative partnerships with the community in mind reflect the recognition that “systemic change, real social and economic change that is truly equitable, is going to force the private sector to work together,” said Suh.

Millennials and Gen Z want to work for organizations that align with their values ​​and beliefs, said Audra Jenkins, head of diversity and inclusion at Randstad North America at HR Dive in an e- mail; “Diversity and inclusion are more than lofty platitudes on a company’s website. They are anchored in the pulse of the organization, deeply rooted in the collective voice of its employees, customers and partners. ” Research into the behaviors and preferences of more than 150,000 American millennials has found that they are dedicated to social and political causes, according to a 2019 report from the Case Foundation.

In 2021, Randstad North America launched Transcend, a diversity retraining program aimed at addressing the systemic issues of diverse and untapped communities through education and employment, Jenkins said. The initiative follows a working group established in 2020 and is led by CEO Karen Fichuk as a subset of her Executive Board on Diversity.

Over the coming year, there will be “a laser focus on companies that are seen as inclusive and those that are silent when major events occur that impact their diverse employee base,” Jenkins said.

Early Talent Programs Can Improve Pipelines, Community

In the United States, the elementary and secondary education systems are “deeply stratified by race and class, and fall short of the essential American goal of providing equal opportunity,” according to a november report by the Brooking Institution. However, the researchers noted that workplace learning can advance equity.

Suh manages IBM’s education portfolio with a mission focused on the education, equity and inclusion of the workforce, she said. Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools or P-TECH is part of IBM’s mission to apply the best expertise, technology, commitment to public-private partnership and large-scale change, said Suh. Established in 2011, P-TECH is IBM’s public education model that aims to provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the opportunity to earn both their high school diploma and an associate’s degree at no cost. years related to STEM fields. It is designed to serve students who may be the first in their families to graduate from college, Suh said.

“What is game-changing here is the involvement of the industry in so many ways, because the industry is at the table as a full partner,” said Suh. “We offer a range of workplace experiences. As soon as students enter a P-TECH school, they have a mentor, and they go to the workplace at age 16 and have university credits to their credit, ”she said. . Students participate in paid skills internships, and at the end of their internship, they present to executives. “Once they graduate, they are the first to find jobs with their industrial partner,” she said.

IBM has hired about 60 students on its own; and “we know other companies are hiring as well,” Suh ​​said. “We are working to obtain robust data at all levels that will share the story of the people who benefit from the model.” IBM is committed to “pushing it forward”, understanding the importance of involving other industries to “drive systemic change,” she said.

“There are countless approaches to cultivating an inclusive work environment, and talented young programs for high school students should definitely be a priority,” Jenkins said. “Leaders can work directly with high schools, recruit for internships through social media, or work with ongoing programs in their communities to reach these students. “

For 2021, those programs could be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, she said. Employers will also need to consider internet inequalities, as not all students in diverse and underserved communities have internet access from home. But companies will also need to work with partners who have the infrastructure and mission to reach diverse young people en masse, Jenkins said.

Transparency, data-driven strategies impact culture

DCI and membership requires commitment combined with intentional effort and transparency, Jenkins said. “We have been captivated by a triple pandemic from 2020 to 2021,” she said. The coronavirus pandemic “has accelerated the digital transformation to accommodate the redesigned workforce; protests for social justice reform have intensified with the consecutive deaths of Amaud Abery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others before them; and the results of a controversial and highly controversial election. “left a lot of” wondering how we’re going to get unity on a positive path forward, “Jenkins said. Transparency includes sharing internally of how DEI and belonging is measured, a- she declared.

Companies should “identify opportunities for under-representation” and use metrics to report on the number of diverse candidates hired, Jenkins said. It is also important to measure the number of executive sponsors who champion the development and advancement of diverse employees, she said. A key indicator to monitor is the number of high-potential, diverse employees who have received promotions through mentoring and sponsorship, she added.

Randstad leverages technology to recruit using “a wide variety of AI tools” as well as “targeted talent marketing” to “attract and entice the desired demographic to apply for jobs” , Jenkins said. The company uses an artificial intelligence matching platform to mitigate unconscious bias in the process. Recruiting robots are also used to “ensure that candidates are matched based on their skills to minimize bias in the selection process,” Jenkins said. Additionally, Pymetrics, a tool that “combines behavioral science knowledge and gamification to determine candidate suitability” adds another layer of job match and skill assessment, she said.

To invest in the right efforts to improve DEI, a company needs a full understanding of how diversity is represented in its workforce and in its recruiting efforts, Jenkins said.

Shirlene J. Manley