How Remote Work Can Help DEI Goals

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Initiatives to increase diversity, equity and inclusion are increasingly critical to a company’s success, argues Gal Almog, CEO of Talenya, a Hoboken, New Jersey-based company that provides an AI-powered platform for sourcing diverse talent. And the post-pandemic move to remote and hybrid work provides companies with new opportunities to source a broader pool of potential employees.

StrategicCHRO360 spoke with Almog about how to embrace new possibilities, how it can help a company’s bottom line and how new technologies can help.

What is the impact of remote work on diverse hiring? Can it be a strategic advantage for CHROs? 

Prior to the pandemic, CHROs could point to location barriers as the reason there were not enough diverse candidates in their local talent pool. Given the recent embrace of remote work, that claim is no longer valid. When opening the talent pool to remote workers, companies have a golden opportunity to increase diversity among their workforce, especially those in markets where there is not a robust pool of diverse talent.

Many in the HR community believe it’s important for executives and organizations to “be intentional” about improving DEI. What does this mean and what steps can CHROs take to ensure their organizations are working toward and/or meeting DEI initiatives? 

Intentional means two things: The first is to give HR teams effective tools to find and engage with quality and diverse talent. LinkedIn is not a good solution for that and is often relied on. By looking past the perils of Boolean search and implementing the right technologies, companies can adapt talent sourcing from a manual to automated process, which can give organizations more time to focus on actionable, value-added priorities.

The second is to set specific KPIs to track the progression of diverse talent in the pipeline. Here, CHROs can ensure recruiters are working toward said KPIs as well as proactively identifying hiring bottlenecks. The decision ultimately falls on the CHRO to invest in resources that improve the recruitment process while finding the best talent.

How can higher rates of diversity and inclusion impact overall business strategy? 

Over the past year, DEI initiatives have become a top priority for many businesses. However, these initiatives have fallen short in several ways. For example, women only make up 35 percent of employees of Fortune 500 companies, and only 23 percent to 28 percent of employees among the least performing industries, according to Talenya’s Q1 2021 Fortune 500 Diversity Report.

To spur long lasting change, CHROs need to educate the rest of the C-Suite on the long-term value of diversity initiatives to ensure companywide buy-in. Research suggests that businesses with higher rates of diversity are often more profitable. According to a 2015 study from McKinsey, companies that have higher degrees of racially and ethnically diverse employees saw a 35 percent performance advantage over companies relying on “culture fits.”

In addition, employees tend to stay longer at diverse companies, which can improve overall culture and foster diversity as a foundational element from the top down. In today’s workplace, those committed to diversity will ensure long-term success for their organization.

How does technology, such as AI, help promote diversity and inclusion?

First, AI can identify people by race, ethnicity and gender. The first step in identifying diverse talent is reaching out to them. AI can eliminate keyword searching, which is highly discriminatory. When recruiters use keyword searches to find talent, they can potentially exclude diverse talent. Minorities and women tend to list few skills in their profiles versus male counterparts, according to recent research we did at Talenya. AI can place talent on a more equal playing field by adding missing skills to peoples’ profiles. Since diverse talent tends to be humbler when listing skills on their profiles, they are likely to have lower search results.

Additionally, AI can recommend small changes to job requirements that are likely to maximize diverse talent participation in the recruitment pipeline. While there are many challenges facing companies looking to increase diversity, technology can help expand talent the pool and eliminate bias simultaneously.

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