Workplace diversity: Is HR doing enough?

Torin Ellis.

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While 2020 shed light on many of the challenges facing HR leaders, nothing was more clear in the last day of the Spring HR Technology Conference & Exposition than the fact that one of HR’s biggest obstacles will be tackling  inequity.

In the conference’s final keynote Friday, DEI expert Torin Ellis said workplace diversity standards are, and have been, inadequate and come with a hefty price tag.

Ellis referenced a recent Citi report that showed racial inequality in the United States over the past 20 years has cost the economy close to $16 trillion. If employers don’t dramatically shift their DEI efforts, it will cost another $5 trillion in the years to come, researchers found.

Ellis challenged HR leaders to approach DEI differently, noting that, for too long, workplaces have championed complacency.

“Let’s build cultures that allow for everyone to show up, contribute, be productive,” he concluded. “It’s time for corporate America to lead on the issue of diversity and inclusion.” Read more on Ellis’ keynote here.

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In another core session, Rocki Howard, chief diversity officer at SmartRecruiters, said hiring practices have long suffered from biases, and offered a few tips to help employers make a more positive impact.

  • Create a database of diverse talent.
  • Have a clear sourcing strategy for each underrepresented group you want to target.
  • Get trained in advance on search techniques for diversity hiring.
  • Secure the right investments that align with your organization’s diversity hiring goals.
  • Dedicate a certain team member (or percentage of team’s time) to focus on diversity sourcing.

Click here to find out more on Howard’s strategies.

Tech that can help

The conference concluded with a start-up tech spotlight, featuring six up-and-coming platforms that aim to help HR address the range of issues they’re facing, from diversity and inclusion to recruiting and compliance.

“As you would expect, the impact of the events of 2020–the pandemic and the social justice movement in particular–are definitely influencing the technology developments we are seeing,” Steve Boese, chair of the HR Technology Conference, which will be held live in Las Vegas this fall, said. “So, areas like mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion and even support for offboarding employees are three specific areas showcased in [this] session.”

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The participating companies were:

  • Unmind: a technology solution employers can use to support their overall mental health programs and strategies
  • FutureFit AI: a new approach to separations, offering people a more supportive and personalized experience as they transition to their next role
  • Hourly by AMS: a set of tools to help both organizations and candidates navigate the hiring process for hourly roles
  • Predictive Hire: a fully digital software solution for volume recruitment
  • Eskalera: a platform that drives employee inclusion through training, reflection and connection
  • Work Shield: a tool that manages employers’ reporting, investigation and resolution of workplace harassment and discrimination issues in their entirety

Read more about these platforms here.

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Nick Otto
Nick Otto is HRE’s former senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.