There is no longer an excuse to not have a diverse talent pool
The future of work series is based on the insights from my quantitative and qualitative research with ideas to think about your organization and a toolkit to take action on as a leader. This theme focuses on access to diverse talent in the future of work.
In the research, I found three primary areas that will expand as a result of increased virtual work and flexibility in the post COVID world: those with disabilities, caregivers, and ethnically diverse talent.
This is important because there are measurable benefits of engaging these diverse groups that have historically been left out of the traditional work environment. Some include innovation, retention, reputation, everyone gets better, and positive workplace reputation
With more work being done virtually with flexible work schedules, this increases opportunities for those with disabilities. According to the CDC, disabilities affect 26% of people in the U.S. and 1 billion people worldwide. This is a huge population of people that are often underemployed. Chances are you know someone who is affected by disabilities. This is a chance to be an ally and support those different than yourself.
The benefits of employing those with disabilities are often overlooked due to the lack of understanding. One profound example is the blind population. This population alone averages an unemployment rate of 75%. The blind community is a great example of where people experience loss, they also have gains that are often overlooked. For many that do not have sight, they experience increased dexterity and ability to perform tasks more efficiently by hand.
Virtual work is a great opportunity to access a greater talent pool with different abilities.
Often the perception of undue hardships to be inclusive to those with disabilities is much greater than the necessary accommodations themselves. Reasonable accommodations benefit the majority group as well. For instance, the curb effect illustrates when sidewalk curbs are implemented, those with bikes, strollers, and small children and seniors are better able to access streets.
The Universal Design Principle is a great guide for employers to better understand expectations for accommodating those with disabilities. With remote working environments, those with disabilities can better control their own work environments and engage on tech platforms more easily. It is important to ensure that the technology platforms offer closed captioning and visual accessibility for those with disabilities.
According to the APA, 68% of primary caregivers are women. This is not always small children, but also aging seniors and those with disabilities. With flexible and virtual work, caregivers now have access to more opportunities. They can craft their days around bus schedules, drop offs, errands, and necessary tasks to properly care for others.
The “mad men” era of work defined by men that are not often still primary caregivers is no longer relevant. And, it has not been for some time. This is a pivotal opportunity for organizations to get creative with job descriptions and part-time roles where caregivers can job share, work project by project, and co-design their work day around the organization’s needs and their own.
There is no greater duty than taking care of others.
An often underutilized and dismissed part of our workforce, caregivers have several lucrative transferable skills to bring organizations value. They know how to prioritize and manage time, perform project management, and have strong emotional intelligence and empathy skills. These skills are desperately needed in the future of work. Let’s not continue to shut out this talent pool in the future.
Ethnically diverse talent
The future of work will have less physical boundaries. That means, people will be able to work where they want to work and organizations will have reach to more areas of the country and world. That is exciting for organizations that previously felt constrained by their local geography. Countless times I have heard the excuse, “we are in ____ area. It is hard to access diverse talent.”
There is no longer an excuse to not have a diverse talent pool.
Your team wants to learn from people different from themselves. Imagine a future workplace with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. How much we could learn and how much better we would reflect our customer needs. When decisions are made by senior leaders that do not reflect the desired customer base (think male and pale) decisions are just not as good as they could be.
Consider this challenge from Baljit Kaur, Equality and Diversity consultant at Innate Consultancy. She shared, “the systems and policies have an opportunity to be addressed. Employers using online talent acquisition activities could find they have a competitive edge when the crisis ends. If this change is not expedited, the temptation to return to the status quo will be there. This is an opportunity to leverage your cultural values to engage the diverse talent you want to attract and retain.”
This is a chance to be an ally. Are you going to take advantage of it?
Toolkit to take action
Let this be an opportunity to pivot forward as a leader. Get your team together virtually or live and be curious to learn from them. Discuss how we use this as an opportunity to improve our access to diverse talent by asking:
- DISABILITIES: What strategies do we like to better access those with disabilities?
- CAREGIVERS: How can we recruit and engage caregivers?
- ETHNICITY: How can we better recruit and engage different ethnic groups?
The future of work will not be the same. There is no return to normal. The future of work is diverse.
This great pause is an opportunity to lead your team to success. How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?
If you liked this article, good news. I created a future of work blog series and video series on the future of work. You can find time to connect with me 1:1 to discuss ideas here.
We need our allies more than ever. We will get through this together. Because we are stronger together.
Message me with your thoughts at Julie@NextPivotPoint.com. I personally respond to every email I receive.