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5 Talent Strategies for the Increasing Complexity of Disruption

As we look at 2018, it is clear that a number of disruptive changes will continue to challenge how organizations attract, engage, and leverage the best people they can bring to their companies. These include many of the usual suspects: increasing workforce diversity, automation, competition, etc.  

Looking at all of these factors, I consulted the i4cp Chief Diversity Officer Board members; following are five strategies the CDO Board recommends for the talent challenges ahead:

1. To get the most out of the entire workforce, organizations will need to transcend their employee-only-focused practices.

All leaders with practices that exist to leverage and engage people, whether D&I, HR, benefits, etc., need to expand their vision from employees to an entire workforce that includes many non-employee contributors (e.g., temps, 1099-contractors, strategic allies’ employees, strategic allies’ temps, and strategic allies’ 1099-contractors). In many organizations, these non-employees are rapidly becoming a larger component of the people-profit-value-chain and integral to both current and future productivity.

2. To get the best talent engaged in an increasingly diverse workforce, companies must double-down on their focus on inclusion.

HR needs to partner with the office of diversity to create the kind of mosaic-inclusiveness as opposed to melting pot environments that will attract and engage today’s top professionals. People today have more choices and they want to join companies in which their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives are welcome, valued. and heard.

3. Organizations should constantly think about and communicate out their future workforce needs internally and externally.

Advances in technology are either rapidly changing or disrupting what organizations need from their workforces. Andres Gonzalez, vice president, chief diversity officer of Froedtert Health, talks about how his organization embraces technology and innovation to meet many needs. This in turn will impact the number and types of new or existing hires at Froedtert, as well as the competencies they need in their current workforce. Many of the future roles in this increasingly automated environment have not even been imagined or designed yet. However, as Gonzales says, if we communicate intentions and developments in a timely manner to existing staff as well as external sources of talent, we will be in a better position to acquire and or find the skills we need to fill these new upcoming roles much faster.

4. To get real movement and decent results in increasing organizational diversity and inclusion, organizations must stop diluting accountability.

Recruiting and hiring managers should be held fully accountable for increasing diversity in the company. The office of diversity can certainly consult and help, but recruiting and hiring managers need to be the accountable-parties. The office of diversity, of course, needs to continue to focus on creating inclusive environments and conditions that engage and leverage the overall organizational diversity being brought into the company. As Sheryl Battles, vice president of communications and diversity strategy at Pitney Bowes points out, the various parts of the organization need to partner and work together, but lines of accountability should be kept clear to avoid failures that are hidden behind vagueness.

5. Leaders should push to better define the partnership between the office of D&I and HR.

This last strategy is somewhat related to the previous one in that it is rooted in the idea of having clear responsibilities and relationships. In some well-organized firms, like Lincoln Financial Group, there is a clear and supportive relationship with HR that includes clear lines of responsibility, says Allison Green, senior vice president and chief diversity officer. Unfortunately, there is a lack of clarity in some organizations as to how HR and D&I can best work together. In some severe cases, there are situations in which D&I reports to an HR leader who does not want D&I to drive practice changes needed by the organization.

How HR and D&I partner within an organization is essentially shaped by several internal and external organizational dynamics, so there is no one specific recipe. It is however important to make sure the partnership between these two important parts of the equation that make people successful in a high-performing company be one that is clear, logical, and optimized for high-accountability and performance on the side of both HR and the office of D&I.

The central theme of all these strategies and especially the last two bullets remind me of an allegory about a company with a team of four employees named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. Once upon a time, this company had an important job that had to be done. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. 

In today’s increasingly complex world of disruption, being clear as to who is responsible for doing what, when, and where will be, I believe, one of the most important ingredients of success is securing and leveraging talent.  

Joe Santana is chair of i4cp’s Chief Diversity Officer Board.

Read more 2018 talent predictions.