Inclusion and diversity are an integral part of the Talent Experience
As organizations seek to develop sustainable human capital management practices, they must understand the importance of what we call the “Talent Experience.”
Earlier this year, we introduced the concept of sustainable human capital management as a means to improve the attraction, retention, overall wellbeing, resiliency, engagement and productivity of talent. While sustainability is often associated with environmental factors, it also applies to individual, team, corporate, and societal performance.
In order for organizations to be successful at developing sustainable human capital management practices, they need a framework for thinking about their business and talent needs. That framework is the Talent Experience.
The optimal Talent Experience should place employees at the center through an intentional culture, a differentiated Talent Value Proposition and inclusion and diversity efforts. For purpose of this post, we’ll focus on how inclusion and diversity fits into the Talent Experience and the greater human capital management practice.
Closer look at inclusion and diversity as an integral part of the Talent Experience
We know that inclusion and diversity is integral to how employees and other talent (e.g., contingent workers) experience their employment. In today’s market, employers are striving to find balance across a number of different dimensions of inclusion and diversity:
- Employees expect to feel that their work is valued and they are treated with respect and dignity, which leads to higher levels of engagement.
- Employees have unprecedented access to information leading to higher expectations for transparency and equity across their experience, and they are ready to talk about it within the organization, but also on social media (e.g., Glassdoor).
- Companies with inclusive and diverse workforces are more agile and innovative, better at listening and considering different points of view in decisions and flexing to meet business needs.
Beyond employees, other stakeholders also are interested in your inclusion and diversity efforts:
- Government and regulatory agencies are increasingly vocal and prescriptive in what they want employers to do, and employers have to ensure they are complying with ever-changing requirements.
- Investors continue to look for measures that provide insights into the fairness of practices so they can gauge the “health” of the organization and its sustainability — that is, metrics to gauge progress in terms of environmental, social and governance factors.
- Customers want to make sure that the companies they buy products and services from are good to their employees.
But achieving an inclusive and diverse workforce is a challenge. Many employers have been doing this for a long time, and while we’ve made some progress, it hasn’t been enough. For example, at the higher levels of most organizations we do not see inclusive and diverse workforces. Furthermore, many employees still don’t feel they can bring their whole selves to work. And we have populations of untapped, underrepresented and chronically underemployed talent, such as people with physical disabilities and people who are neuro-diverse (for example, people with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, and other neurological conditions).
The good news is, more employers are putting increased effort and focus on inclusion and diversity. Our research shows that more companies are addressing the biases in their hiring practices, promotion processes and portfolio of benefits programs, and fair pay is a key component of pay decisions.
Making progress in inclusion and diversity
So, what can employers do to continue to make progress on inclusion and diversity efforts? We find that what is most successful is using an integrated approach to develop a strategy that balances what you have to do as an organization and what you want to do creating a strategy that is uniquely yours. An integrated approach involves considerations across the organization’s industry, areas of operation, current workforce and how rewards (including benefits) meet the workforce’s needs.
We find that leading organizations:
- Look at their companies in a holistic manner
- Assess where they are
- Determine where they want to be
- Identify the gaps that exist
The answers to those assessments inform the road map to change, providing a process map that consists of tactical plans of action, integrated and sequenced typically across years, with measuring and monitoring along the way. It creates a sustainable process for change.
It’s not the implementation of a single program or process: It’s a measured and deliberate approach to effecting real change, and it takes time to make progress. It’s a journey.
It’s also not just one department’s responsibility: We see successful execution of this in organizations that recognize the need to connect across all areas of the business and that have the commitment of leadership.
Finally, when you put it all together, it is about sustainability: Leaders recognize that their organizations’ sustainability and continued success requires them to get the Talent Experience right.
- Have formally structured inclusion and diversity programs
- Use technology to understand employee preferences and deliver targeted messages
- Support external initiatives, networks or awards to showcase female role models
- Establish and support internal networks
- Analyze fairness in pay practices, between job levels over time
- Provide maternity support/return-to-work programs
By putting the Talent Experience at the center, employers are better positioned to ensure they are driving toward an inclusive and diverse workforce for sustained success.
Susan Fazo is the Senior Director of the Talent Practice at Willis Towers Watson.
Rachael McCann is Senior Director of Health and Benefits at Willis Towers Watson.
Nancy Romanyshyn is a director in the rewards practice based in Willis Towers Watson’s New York office.