People are talking diversity in the workforce solutions ecosystem but there’s still a long way to go before they walk the walk. Take the results from a survey published earlier this week. It showed that there is a lack of racial diversity across this industry with people of color comprising well under 10% of all staff.
Information from the survey was released by the WBC Staffing Council, a workstream within the Women Business Collaborative, in partnership with representatives from the industry including American Staffing Association, National Association of Professional Staffing, Staffing Industry Analysts and the TechServe Alliance.
The results are revealing. But what is hopeful is that diversity, equity and inclusion comes up as a top issue in the ecosystem based on discussions with workforce ecosystem executives as well as recent research and surveys underway. People are discussing change.
Jobs. Much of the interest in diversity resurfaced amid Covid and a change in the employment picture. Millions of people lost their jobs, still more were furloughed. A recent Ipsos World Economic Forum survey of 20,000 adults found that 65% believe a person’s race, ethnicity or national origin influences their employment opportunities. In addition, 39%, said their own race, ethnicity or national origin has affected their employment opportunities.
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The poll took place from Jan. 22 to Feb. 5 in 27 countries, including the US; Canada; and others in Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific.
That’s not all. The Ipsos poll also found that 46% believe the events of the past year have increased differences in opportunities as well as access to housing, education, employment and/or social services. All this in the wake of a year when Covid-19 disproportionately affected people of color and societal issues brought a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Right action, Many companies in the last year declared their support for DE&I, but are firms really taking concrete action to make things better or are they just ticking a box? That businesses are getting more intentional about it — there’s evidence of some effort — does move the needle forward.
A survey by Express Employment Professionals in the US found 78% of hiring decision-makers say their company has taken action on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The most commonly cited areas of action taken included:
- Provided training for employees, cited by 40%
- Offered safe ways for employees to report discrimination and harassment complaints, 31%
- Revised policies and procedures, 29%
- Changed recruitment and hiring practices, 28%
Change is slow. Still, “even with the increased attention being paid to these issues due to the experiences of 2020, there is a danger that change will not happen quickly enough,” said John Nurthen, executive director of global research at SIA. “Nowhere is inequality more obvious than at the very top of corporate America. According to Fortune magazine in 2020, 462 of the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were white men. This represents a huge failure in terms of equality of opportunity despite years of equal opportunities legislation.”
Commitment. SIA is committed to doing its part by highlighting DE&I-related topics. We are launching a new list this year, the “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Influencers — US and Canada,” through which we aim to highlight individuals doing what it takes to create opportunities for the underrepresented and underserved communities in the workforce solutions ecosystem. Nominations are now being accepted for those professionals who are having the tough conversions and taking actions to move the needle on DE&I; the deadline for nominations has been extended to March 10. In addition, our annual list of Diversity-Owned US Staffing Firms garners much interest. We’re doing that list again this year; the survey for the list is now open.
We get it. Survey numbers indicate it’s not easy for industry professionals — or corporate America — to walk the walk. Workforce diversity is a complicated issue — and an area where more difficult conversations must take place and much more work needs to be done.
It’s a long road ahead, but one we’ve got to walk.