DEIB across workplaces and workforces

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At the recent Spring HR Technology Conference and Exposition, Josh Bersin highlighted how dramatically the war for talent changed over the last year.

Looking at job posting data, Bersin shared that demand for driver/sales workers jumped by 224 percent, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers by 93 percent, light truck or delivery service drivers jumped by 91 percent, and first-line supervisors of transportation and material moving workers increased by 73 percent. Other sectors saw similar growth with 46 percent more job postings for registered nurses and 24 percent more for stock clerks and order fillers.

Even so, the types of roles don't always get included in high-level conversations about human resources, especially when it comes to issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). But why?

The need for DEIB stretches across workplaces, and the same business case for diverse white-collar teams – better decision making, a broader range of talent, enhanced profitability, and efficiency, also applies to more blue-collar roles, like those mentioned above. That's why it's time to examine the thinking behind DEIB and expand it to all workers. Here's how we do that, starting from the recruiting process:

Assess where we stand

In his Spring HR Tech presentation, Torin Ellis emphasized, "DEIB requires descriptive and intimate connectedness to people. Humanity sites at the center of all D&I conversations and efforts." To start promoting DEIB, employers need to examine their current workforce, culture, and talent acquisition strategy first. To echo Ellis, DEIB is about humanity, and without understanding whom we employ, what they think of the experience, and how they got here, we can't advance or improve these initiatives.

Listen and learn

Talk to candidates and employees about DEIB and what it means to them. Expect that some of these conversations will be uncomfortable. There is a lot of unlearning that needs to take place in order to develop new ways of thinking. But the only way to move past "that's the way we've always done it" is to take a step in a different direction. Don't stop at race or gender. Instead, sit down with everyone. There are forms of diversity that we can't always see, and employees don't always reveal on their initial application.

Put it in writing

Tacking EEOC language onto a job description doesn't cut it anymore. For DEIB to be sustainable in the long run, it needs to be woven into the fabric of the business. Issues of bias and exclusion are systemic, which is why it can't be one person or even one department's responsibility. All too often, HR shoulders this without support from leadership and frontline managers. Define the organization's commitment to DEIB, create goals and set up a task force to ensure progress. Communicate the commitment to candidates and employees.

Lean on technology

Humans are inherently flawed. It's what makes us human. As such, biases – implicit or explicit – get in the way of DEIB, particularly during hiring. Incorporating technology can help, whether that's by leveraging Artificial Intelligence to standardize and streamline candidate screening or using score-based assessments to mitigate the risk of bias creeping into the interview process. Technology also works to deliver a unified experience, which, to Ellis's point, can "level the playing field immediately."

Use the findings

After doing the work to build the scaffolding around diverse hiring and DEIB efforts, we need to use what we learn. Data and analytics establish benchmarks and provide feedback, allowing businesses to see what's working and what's not on this journey to inclusive growth. The linchpin is making the findings actionable. Few, if any, organizations get DEIB right the first time. It's not enough to have access to better information. We need to use it to make improvements over time.

Keep going

Likewise, while there's any number of sayings about justice, change, or progress that we can point to as inspiration to keep going, the truth is, creating meaningful DEIB change in workplaces will be slow-going. Big Tech learned that the hard way and they're not giving up. That's because, as Ellis shared, "D&I has no finish line." So we start with diversity recruitment. But what happens after an employee's start date? Where does DEIB fit into onboarding? Their training? Career development? What about every day on the job site? Plan for the long-term.

Even though much of what we understand about DEIB centers on corporate settings versus other environments, that's no reason not to make this a priority for all workers.

All workers deserve diverse representation and equitable treatment in inclusive workplaces that promote a sense of belonging. It's time to rethink, unlearn, and take Ellis's message to heart by practicing "Less allyship, more action."

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