Contingent Workforce & Diversity: 5 Strategies to Create a Culture of Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion have become key initiatives at most companies across the US. Executives now know that a diverse workforce is not only a nice thing to have, but statistics show that it also makes for a more innovative and productive company. In fact, a study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with a diverse leadership team deliver 19% higher revenues than those without. Successful businesses in the modern world are built through leveraging diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.  

When the subject of “workforce” comes up, most people think only about traditional, direct employees of a company. But the definition of a workforce has become so much more. Studies show that over 40% of the US workforce is comprised of individuals engaged in some form of non-traditional employer-employee arrangement including temporary, part-time, contract, and project-based employees.  

Contingent workers are now sitting firmly in the driver’s seat of their careers and are being placed in increasingly strategic positions within their organizations. This makes it imperative for companies to focus on diversity and inclusion programs designed for not only hiring but also to nurture teamwork, acceptance, and creativity not just for their full-time employee populations, but for their contingent employees as well. 

While it may seem challenging, there are things a company can do to foster diversity and inclusion for non-traditional contingent employees. Here a few simple strategies that can be put in place: 

1) Assess Your Organizations Culture of Inclusion
Is diversity and inclusion part of your company’s Core Values and Purpose? Do you have a standardized definition of diversity? Diversity now goes beyond gender balance and extends to differences in race, culture, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities and parental status. Your company should have a Diversity and Inclusion statement and it should be displayed prominently on the website and should be part of every job posting, including temporary and contract roles.  

Does your company use staffing firms to recruit and fill temporary roles?  Make sure they have your diversity and inclusion statement and instruct them to use it in all job postings. Since 30% of all contingent roles convert to direct hires, sending the right message at the very beginning of the hiring process for ALL roles is critical. 

2) Tap Into Unique Talent Pools
One example of a unique, untapped talent pool is women returners. There are many women with professional/managerial experience who are looking to get back into the workforce after a hiatus. They have often taken time off to care for loved ones, raise children, or a variety of other reasons.  These ‘returners’ usually have a high level of skill, education, and experience, as well as the new skills they’ve gained during their career break.  

And although around three quarters of women aged 28 to 40 who have gone on a career break want to return to work, very few companies have tapped into this under appreciated talent pool. In fact, many companies have recruiting processes in place that unintentionally screen out these candidates due to the gaps in their resume.  

Hiring returners can improve the gender, age, a racial diversity within an organization. They often bring a high level of experience, maturity, and commitment. Employers report that returners tend to offer a different way of looking at problems and situations, which can help enhance an organization’s cognitive diversity. 

Hiring from a returner program can have a positive impact on brand image, clearly signaling your organization’s support of non-linear career paths, and value for the role that caring plays in society. 

(Learn how Women Back to Work can help your company’s diversity hiring)

3) Diversity Fill-Rates and Certification for Staffing Partners
Partnering with staffing firms that are Diversity Certified, meaning at least 51% of the company is owned and operated by a minority or woman, ensures that your partners understand the importance of diversity to your organization. Establish a minimum quota of submissions of diverse candidates by your staffing partners, keeping in mind a broad definition of diversity to encompass a wide variety of differences in the working population. Also, consider allowing for a more lenient submission time on diversity candidates to incentivize the effort. 

4) Track Your Progress
The only way to make sure you are hiring diverse employees across all categories is to set KPIs and measure performance against them. For contingent workers, it helps to use quarterly scorecards for staffing suppliers. This provides them with a framework of your expectations and helps weed out suppliers that are not hitting the mark on your diversity efforts. Review performance on a quarterly basis and adjust strategy as needed. 

5) Risk Assessment for Your Contingent Workforce
While there is an inherent risk involved with co-employment, working with your internal HR and labor legal teams before moving forward with any type of diversity recruitment can help mitigate the risk. Ensuring that your company is implementing proper processes and procedures to limit any type of discrimination or unnecessary liability for not only your company but also your staffing suppliers is imperative. 
Diversity is a hallmark for most companies today, in their full-time as well as contingent populations. We are in an era where acquiring talent is critical and supply is limited, and an increasing number of employers are beginning to work with staffing partners who can help them meet their need for diverse talent. Doing this creates an environment in which organizations will reap the benefits of inclusion, increase their revenue and reputation through the innovation of products and services demanded by an increasingly diverse marketplace and expand the idea of corporate culture to incorporate truly diverse thinking. 

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