Does a more tumultuous and uncertain business environment spell doom for the DEI initiatives that have become highly visible over the last few years?
In the wake of widely publicized racial injustices and inequities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies faced growing pressure for their workforce and business practices to both reflect – and create opportunities for – the diverse communities they serve.
Increasing investor and regulator focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) have also helped energize DEI objectives at the C-suite and board level.
Financial uncertainties, renewed focus on cost control, and competitive pressures to transform business models through technology could threaten DEI progress in many organizations. How can your company maintain its momentum on DEI while also responding to financial and operational business pressures?
Skills-based talent management.
The same approach to workforce planning and talent management that is critical for businesses as they transform themselves can also support DEI objectives and create a win-win for both the financial and human bottom lines.
Here are five ways skills-based talent management can support and accelerate your DEI initiatives.
- Reduce hiring biases
One of the challenges of ensuring your workforce is diverse, equitable, and inclusive from top to bottom are the built-in biases that exist in many traditional hiring practices.
Pursuing management candidates from a limited selection of universities, for example, or focusing primarily on educational achievements and past job experience can create candidate pools that are less diverse.
Skills-based approaches to hiring and recruiting can reduce biases and produce a more diverse talent pool while ensuring that your workforce has the skills needed to drive business success.
By relying on verified, third-party credentials for specific skills, companies can find and hire best-fit candidates. In doing so, they’ll reduce their reliance on subjective hiring criteria – degrees, personal interpretations about the quality of particular schools, and subjective opinions about previous job titles and employers.
The result is a hiring process that is more inclusive and equitable, and which creates more opportunities for a diverse pool of job candidates.
- Nurture a workplace culture that values its people
The U.S. economy loses over $1B a year to voluntary turnover. It’s not always about compensation – 65% of employees surveyed said they would take a lower paying job over dealing with a negative work environment. Companies can implement programs that help them recruit a more diverse workforce, but then lose the benefit of that investment if corporate culture produces higher turnover.
A simple solution to this is an inclusive workplace culture. Employees who are engaged in their work and feel valued are less likely to seek new jobs. And talent-based workforce management practices can go a long way to boosting employee engagement, inclusivity and equity.
For example, talent-based L&D programs that provide skills-based career paths and resources for reskilling and upskilling from old roles to new roles give workers opportunities for career advancement within the company. L&D programs also send the message that the organization values its employees and is willing to invest in them.
- Providing career paths to high-growth roles
DEI programs are sometimes successful with entry-level and front-line staffing but struggle when it comes to internal career advancement and moving people up through the ranks. Skills-based talent management programs can provide a solution to this challenge.
By defining roles and career paths based on skills and making those accessible to your existing talent pool via a skills-based workforce management platform, organizations can attract a more diverse pool of internal candidates for open positions.
As companies transform themselves and their business models, the skills needed for new and existing roles will change. This can be a challenge for companies that get stuck with large numbers of legacy employees who don’t have clear paths to move from less important to more important skills and roles.
Well-defined career paths, however, can help your existing workforce understand what they need to do to advance their careers in your organization. This helps the organization retain a diverse workforce, include that workforce in new opportunities, and ensure equity in promotion and advancement opportunities.
- Make career advancement opportunities readily available to everyone
Many companies are in the midst of strategic, technology-driven transformations in their business. They’re creating new products and services, improving their customer experience, and working on using automation, robotics, and AI to improve efficiencies.
Chances are your organization is doing something similar. As technology transforms business models, new jobs are created that require new skills.
Will these new jobs go to people from outside the organization who are fortunate enough (perhaps young enough) to already have the skills needed? Or will you give your existing talent pool opportunities to fill these roles?
There are advantages to helping your current workers move into new roles: They are already familiar with your business and your culture. Giving them advancement opportunities builds loyalty and boosts retention. And they’ll bring an understanding of the context and history of your company and industry to the new jobs, which new hires will likely lack.
Targeted upskilling and reskilling through company-driven L&D programs can enable your existing employees to prepare for these new jobs. By making these kinds of opportunities readily available across your workforce, you’ll increase your organization’s inclusivity and create greater equity.
- Attract and retain workers from traditionally underrepresented groups
Not every job requires a college degree. In many companies, roles that at one time might have required a college degree are now being filled by people who have acquired the right skills through a variety of nontraditional career paths.
Apprenticeships and internship programs, for example, can be a great way to recruit a more diverse pool of entry-level workers to your organization and ensure they have the skills needed to do their jobs well and advance further. Such programs can also serve as bridges for older workers seeking to make a career shift.
Recruiting employees who have served in the military is another way to attract workers from a more diverse background. The U.S. military is quite diverse, and military veterans often bring specific technical skills as well as leadership skills.
Skills-based talent management practices can make it simpler for organizations to attract and retain workers from these more diverse talent pools. Jobs are defined based on the skills required, not a general educational credential or years of experience, allowing a wider pool of candidates to qualify.
Double the positive impact
These skills-based talent management practices provide a two-fold positive impact on organizations: They facilitate a more agile workforce that can adapt to your organization’s changing competitive landscape while also driving progress on DEI objectives.
By highlighting DEI benefits of skills-based talent management practices, you may also be able to build support for L&D budgets and gain corporate allies, such as your chief diversity officer, as you seek to implement new programs.
One critical tool for implementing skills-based talent management practices is a tool that provides both the employer and employee information about verified job skills, skills-based role requirements, and career paths.
Credly’s Workforce is helping companies take a skills-based approach to talent management. Learn more and schedule a demo.