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How To Build A Diverse Workforce And Why Procurement Is So Critical

How To Build A Diverse Workforce And Why Procurement Is So Critical

This article was originally published on May 3, 2021 in Forbes. Find the original publication here

The demand for top-tier talent has reached a fever pitch as the C-suite comes to recognize that the major market disruptions we’ve all shared over the past year have drastically changed how we go about building tomorrow’s workforce. Meanwhile, diversity has skyrocketed past its former buzzword status to become a major strategic consideration for any organization that’s serious about finding a competitive edge. So, now that everyone is in agreement that diversity is critical to building a future workforce that can thrive, how do we capitalize? Like most goals that are worth pursuing, there are no shortcuts when it comes to establishing a strong, diverse hiring practice. But, simply put, it all starts at the source which, of course, can be a complicated matter. Let’s dig in.

The Challenge

If we take a look at the sources of hiring talent, we find that generally speaking, the full-time equivalents (FTEs) are hired by HR teams, while temp hires are sourced through supplier networks that are managed by procurement teams (also called contingent workforce management teams). As I said, it’s complicated. So, there are two different teams (HR and procurement) involved in hiring FTEs and the temp workforce. These two talent sources often operate in silos. To further complicate matters, the sources of prospective candidates for both FTEs and temp hires are typically isolated from each other within those silos and are usually generated and hosted by disparate systems.

For example, typical sources for FTEs include employee referrals, internal recruiters, job portals, executive recruitment firms, alumni networks, and career portals. Meanwhile, temp work sources usually include supplier networks and managed service providers, among other sources. Now, imagine curating a list of prospective candidates from these disparate sources — an undertaking that becomes exponentially greater the larger your firm might be.

How do you take advantage of pooling all the sources of talent into a single AI-powered database — aka a talent container — to identify qualified candidates with ranking and relevance? An advanced talent container can enhance your search by connecting all sources seamlessly and allowing you to search prospective candidates for both FTEs and temp hires.

But there’s a catch. Once you have a talent container strategy in place, it doesn’t automatically curate candidates that bring diversity into the workplace. So, you must ensure that your prospective candidate sourcing is curated from various talent sources with a specific goal of building a candidate pool for future hiring.

The Solution

This starts with a proper audit of the overall diversity of your workforce, which can be done in four steps:

1. Audit Your Current Workforce. Leverage advanced AI-driven automation tools to audit your current workforce and dissect its demographic makeup with categories that include gender, ethnicity, equity (wage disparity and position disparity) and every other category available to see where your organization currently stands.

2. Set a Diversity Goal. Based on the audit results, set a target to meet specific diversity goals. For example, if a company’s workforce is comprised of 64% men and 36% women and the goal is to eliminate gender disparity, then set a goal to increase the number of women in your talent container. Of course, the same principle applies to diversity as it pertains to ethnicity, geography, etc.

3. Define a Strategy. Once your goals are set, define a strategy that curates a qualified list of diverse candidates. This sets you up for your current and future talent needs. Just imagine a talent container with 10,000 qualified candidates of which only 2,000 are female. With this ratio of applicants, assuming all are equally qualified, you’re more likely to end up hiring more male employees than female, thus the disparity continues and your organization loses. Remember, it starts with your sources. If you ensure that you pick from diverse sources, you’re not only ensuring equity but also ensuring that your workforce is statistically more likely to perform at a higher financial level. What organization doesn’t want that?

4. Hold Your Partners to the Same Standard. Mandate that your suppliers are equipped with an appropriate percentage of diverse candidates to meet your specific diversity goals. You wouldn’t accept anything less if you were procuring a specific supply of nuts and bolts, for example. So, why would you allow your talent suppliers to offer you 90 of one and 10 of another sort of candidate if your needs were so clearly different?

Additional Considerations

Having a source of diverse candidates for your temp workforce makes an enormous difference in meeting diversity goals. Why? The answer is simple: According to a 2016 survey, the average temp-to-full-time conversion ratio in the U.S. is about 10%, so if you hire 1,000 temp workers, about 100 of them become full-time employees.

Traditionally, diverse workforce programs are managed by DE&I teams, who work closely with HR. But as you can see, it’s important to fit your procurement teams into this equation if you hope to build a workforce that can thrive both today and in the future.

About Sameer Penakalapati

Sameer Penakalapati is the Founder & CEO of Ceipal. He is dedicated to advising and investing in technology startups in HR Tech and AI. Read Sameer Penakalapati’s full executive profile here.