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I know what you’re thinking – a blog about diversity and inclusion (D&I) written by a 30-something male who’s been working in the male-dominated tech market for the last 10 years: What do I know about it? In truth, I have a passion for changing the way organisations tackle D&I, especially when it comes to their contingent labour pool. 

While MSP’s are often seen as adding real benefits including cost savings, transparency and tech access, why isn’t more being done to access the benefits a truly  diverse workforce can bring to the contingent labour market?

D&I matters now more than ever 

COVID-19 is continuing to disrupt companies around the world. In the short term, some face devastating losses of revenue, dislocations to operations and supply chains, and challenges to liquidity and solvency. Others are dealing with enormous and unexpected spikes in demand. 

In the medium term, we can expect material and lasting shifts in customer markets, regulatory environments, and workforce deployments. Leaders and managers will need a great deal of resolve and resilience as they seek to navigate an economically and socially viable path toward a “next normal.” The lessons from previous crises tell us there is a very real risk that D&I may now recede as a strategic priority for organisations and the benefits of a diverse workforce offering innovative, fresh and new thinking is not given the priority it should. The benefits of D&I shouldn’t have to change in a crisis. A recent McKinsey report has highlighted that D&I and performance go hand in hand. [Source – McKinsey]

The benefits of having a diverse workforce remain top-of-mind for contingent workforce program managers. However, firms looking to increase their overall diversity spend often overlook contingent labour as a potential source.

Staffing Industry Analysts’ Dawn McCartney, VP, Contingent Workforce Strategies Council, is “amazed” at the number of companies that don’t require a certain percentage of spend to process through diversity suppliers, stating: “It’s very rare that a diversity and inclusion group, or department within a company, will come to the group responsible for contingent labour and say, ‘I want ‘x’ percent of spend’.

“It may be important to them, but sometimes they don’t even think about the contingent [workforce program] being part of where they could get additional diversity spend. They are thinking more about companies in their supply chain.”

That said, leaders in charge of contingent programs recognise the value in having a diverse workforce. “Most people have the best intentions,” McCartney explained. “They want to do what is right. They feel good about it, and it reflects well on their brand. So even if they are not getting a mandate from diversity inclusion, there is still an interest in learning how to diversify their labour pools because it’s the right thing to do.” 

Tackling D&I within the contingent market 

As a supplier of contingent labour, it’s our responsibility to work in collaboration with clients to ensure we put D&I at the top of the agenda. A study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with a diverse leadership team deliver 19 per cent higher revenues than those without, so we know it’s worth the investment. 

  • Start with assessing your organisation’s culture
    Is D&I part of your company’s core values and purpose? Do you have a standardised definition of diversity? Your company should have a D&I statement that’s displayed prominently on your website and form part of every job posting, including temporary and contract roles.  Does your company use staffing firms to recruit and fill temporary positions? Since 30 percent of all contingent roles convert to direct hires, sending the right message at the very beginning of the hiring process for ALL positions is crucial.
  • Set performance targets
    Define and measure performance against organisational goals. By implementing diversity fill-rates from staffing partners, greater emphasis is placed ensuring clear benchmarks are put in place to ensure D&I is addressed.
  • Risk assessment for contingent workers
    While there is an inherent risk involved with co-employment, working with your internal HR and labour legal teams before moving forward with any type of diversity recruitment can help mitigate the risk. Ensure your company is implementing proper processes and procedures to limit any kind of discrimination or unnecessary liability for not only your company but also your staffing suppliers is imperative. [Source WBW]

Workforce planning plays a key role in ensuring proactive contingent labour campaigns are proactively implemented. There’s a need for inclusive talent pools to be created by the contingent labour provider to make sure a diverse selection is available at speed to meet the immediate requirements of the project.

How we can help

The biggest question is, how can you safely say you have found the best contingent worker for a post if you are not looking everywhere? LinkedIn, job boards, referrals and tech evenings won’t necessarily provide a diverse selection of all suitable candidates for a role. Developing long-term diverse talent pools and reaching out to contingent workers who may not have been in-post due to personal commitments, or offering contingent labour upskilling are all steps we are taking to address D&I in the contingent labour market. Our commitment is to ensure that D&I is the first objective we address when speaking to business leaders about contingent labour programs.

If you want to find out more about our approach and our contingent services, contact me james.gowing@omnirms.com.