Transformative Traits: DEI In The NOW of Work
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion promise to deliver real change, but only if we’re prepared to commit to real change. This requires a future-thinking mindset shift around how we view talent, how talent views opportunity or wants to, and how employers can step up and deliver parity, development, inclusion, accommodation, and more.
HONEST LEVEL SETTING
HOW WE NEED TO VIEW TALENT
If we’re to understand the true impact and opportunity of DEI in the Now of Work, we begin with mindset — particularly a mindset around talent. It’s one thing to say we value diversity, but what does diversity really mean?
DIVERSITY IS DIVERSE
It’s essential to recognize that diversity exists in all forms, including and beyond race and gender. An employer who welcomes and embraces diverse talent must welcome and embrace all kinds of diversity, including age and all the generations of the workforce, sexual orientation, religion, income, disability, and veteran status. People are also diverse in our belief systems, interests and aspirations, the accommodation or flexibility we require to thrive, and our ability to learn and upskill ourselves. Diversity is, quite literally, diverse.
TALENT IS MULTI-FACETED
Finding people to work at your organization requires more than figuring out what bullet points will resonate in a job description. First, job descriptions are limiting and designed to screen out, not in – quite literally the opposite goal of a diverse hiring strategy. They’re designed to be a screening tool to be matched against a candidate’s resumé, which is not often written to be a clear indication of current and future capabilities and skills. Both tools are extremely narrow in their focus, leveraged for a one-time matching exercise for one job seeker against one available job. There’s no context for either the business or for talent. We don’t do much better if we’re lucky enough to hire them; mobility is limited because we don’t know talent the way we should and usually don’t encourage or build infrastructure to support their movement inside the organization.Our view and assessment must go deeper than matching historically bad data. It’s the only way to see talent more holistically, which should be core to any talent diversity strategy. Individual talent is an evolving and assorted collection of skills; taking inventory at a moment in time is difficult enough if people and their skills were static, but they are not. And shouldn’t be. Learn to survey, assess, recommend, and align talent and skills to business needs and programs. Matching poorly devised job descriptions to poorly articulated employment history leaves too much on the table. A truly strategic play is to deconstruct jobs and reconstruct talent. Only then can we play real ball. We are more than our demographic or self-identified information. We are made up of skills, aspirations, desires, belief systems, and needs. That’s the gold to get to in order to bring multi-faceted talent into play.
EXPERIENCE IS THE JOURNEY
If we are to prioritize employee experience, we need to prioritize an experience of work that is seamless, holistic, connected, modern, and fulfilling. At Leapgen, we suggest a whole person approach for workforce experience design. This holistic approach requires desiloing disparate talent journeys. How do we do that?
Today, the same people who acquire talent (Talent Acquisition) are not typically the same people responsible for developing and retaining them (Talent Management). The same systems and processes who attract, assess, select and support a new employee’s journey are not connected to the systems who will take the baton from onboarding to ongoing. A dispersed function with multiple disparate systems cannot effectively support a connected, intelligent human journey. Supporting holistic talent journeys for diverse talent who want to feel connected and a sense of belonging requires knowing talent better – who they really are, what they really want, and what they truly deserve.
WHAT TALENT WANTS & DESERVES
You know what you want in an employee, but what about the other side of things? When you’re filling a role or building your team, the wants and needs of these people should be considered, included, and designed.
PEOPLE WANT SAFETY
Safety is the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and it includes psychological safety. Accordingly, this translates to life at work. People want job protection, advancement opportunities, income protection, safety in all forms. That includes our ability to take leave to take care of ourselves, knowing our job and income is protected, our return anticipated and supported, and returnships offered if needed.
WORKING LIKE ADULTS
At this point in life and the world, it feels like common sense but we’ll say it anyway: treat adults like adults! From where and how we work to the overall experience, people have demonstrated they can and should be trusted; they want to be checked up on, not checked in on; and they know what they need in order to thrive.
REMOTE WORKING WORKS
Remote pandemic working proved knowledge workers can be productive anywhere. Those who can make a choice about their working environment want to. This is true even while working remotely in a pandemic is the least ideal example of successful remote working. Imagine if we did it right.
EVERYONE DESERVES EXPERIENCE
Frontline and deskless workers also said enough when it comes to equitable workforce experience. In other words, your restaurant employees don’t deserve less (support, culture, development, leadership) just because they’re untethered to the mothership. In fact, maybe they need more of all that since they’re on the front lines of customer experience and satisfaction. We’re simply out of excuses for not providing this labor segment the same leadership, communication, empathy, safety, and consideration as their corporate counterparts.
Accommodation isn’t for disability employment alone; accommodation is for every human being who deserves to articulate what they need to perform at an optimal level. This goes for caregivers, working parents, other-abled, those who think differently, those who sit in an office and those who require remote enablement. Rethink accommodation for all. Accommodation is nothing more and nothing less than consideration and dignity.
PAY TRANSPARENCY DRIVES PAY EQUITY
Laws are changing in favor of pay transparency and pay equity. Will you wait for one state after another, or for countries at large, to require you to open the payroll books and display pay ranges by job type?Even then, some employers will game the system.
The most progressive employers will hold themselves accountable: providing more than inflation increases, adjusting beyond geographical COLAs, rewarding loyalty by increasing existing employees on par with market rate, proactively adjusting known disparities, and being forthright about process and pay with applying candidates. Pay is competitive intel, it’s true; revealing it doesn’t make you less competitive unless you’re not on par. Make it your competitive advantage by owning pay transparency.
WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR EMPLOYERS TO STEP UP AND DELIVER
STOP MAKING TALENT BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS. REMOVE THE BARRIERS.
So many of the barriers faced by talent who are diverse, underrepresented, marginalized, overlooked are systemic. Systems can be changed.
As an example, this blog details fifteen ways to welcome working moms back to work, and most of them are policy-driven and systemic.
As we approach systemic change, it’s important to listen, then act. Be careful not to make assumptions, and avoid treating your entire workforce the same. If you truly welcome and celebrate diversity, you are committed to diversity of experience, voice, lived experience, opinion and perspective. This means you must create the environment where this can exist and flourish without judgment.
But you can’t just say you’re committed and expect to see change. You have to understand your starting point, define the end goal, illustrate what progress will look like and how you’ll measure it, create permission and space for cultural changes that are likely required, and hold leaders and one another accountable for progress.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED
GLOBAL CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
“For a diversity and inclusion strategy to be truly global, D&I professionals need to understand the culture, politics, economics, and relevant legislation within the regions in which their businesses operate, all of which underscores the critical importance of being culturally competent. A critical issue that D&I professionals struggle with is how to keep the uniqueness of their national culture and still address the shared goal of embedding diversity and inclusion into day-to-day operations.” – Josh Bersin
ACHIEVING A GLOBAL MINDSET
Thinking globally takes time and there will be challenges. But there are also many opportunities, and they’re the “be a good human” kind. The Conference Board lists ways to accomplish a global DEI perspective and strategy.
- Listen, don’t dictate
- Think about terminology: what is “minority” in one region isn’t “minority” elsewhere
- Don’t underestimate the complexity of being global
- Establish a global mindset
- Create a minimal framework that is driven by a global definition of diversity and inclusion but also highly localized
- Be aware that solutions imposed from the outside won’t always be effective
- Challenge yourself
When it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and a general sense of justice about the workplace and our employment relationships, people are looking for genuine commitment to do the right thing. People want honesty: do you know where your warts are, are you committed to treating them, are you willing to be honest about what needs to be done to create real change, and can you be authentic and transparent about progress?
No one is looking for perfection. No one. People want change. We want a tomorrow that looks different from today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jess Von Bank is an 18-year industry veteran and impassioned evangelist of the modern candidate and employee experience. As both a former recruiting practitioner and an expert in bringing TA Tech and HCM vendor solutions to market, Jess looks to broaden executive mindset to better design and deliver a workforce experience that exceeds the expectations of talent and the needs of the business.
Jess offers specialized expertise in brand strategy, GTM and product advisory for workforce solutions, talent acquisition, recruitment marketing, employer branding, DEI&B, and storytelling. She leads Luminate, Leapgen’s vendor services practice to help work tech providers meet the market head on. She also runs the Now of Work, Leapgen’s global community for HR, Talent, and workforce experience professionals.
Jess is an active community emcee, ambassador for women’s and girls’ organizations, and President of Diverse Daisies, a nonprofit for girls’ enrichment and empowerment. She lives in Minneapolis, where she races for free swag and raises her 3 daughters.
Leapgen is a digital HR company shaping the NOW of Work. Highly respected as consultants and advisors to the enterprise and the industry, we help our customers make HR digital. Leapgen helps leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.