Building sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives

Six considerations to support DE&I using robust talent assessments

Organisations are strengthening their diversity, equity and inclusivity (DE&I) strategies and programs. To ensure sustainability, they must adopt a holistic approach and consider four pillars: 

  • the workforce and talent practices
  • the workplace and how to create an inclusive culture 
  • the organisation's relationship with suppliers and partners 
  • the organisation's investment in the community by addressing underserved communities

We believe that supporting these four pillars are six considerations and these become the bedrock of effective and ongoing DE&I initiatives. 

The six considerations detailed in this guide demonstrate the important role that talent assessment plays in helping organisations meet their goals.

1) Develop Diverse Talent Pipelines by Focusing on Future Potential 

Organisations need to tap into an individual's ability - and desire - to embrace and adapt to change, to be curious about opportunities and to seek continual self-improvement. 

Talent assessment removes the elements of unconscious human bias that may exist in current talent practices and moves decision-makers on from an error-prone and unfair 'gut feel' when hiring. It can be used both in initial recruitment and in ongoing development and succession planning. 

2) Develop an Inclusive Mindset and Create an Environment in Which Ideas Thrive 

Demonstrating an inclusive mindset means that you value and appreciate the differences of opinions that your colleagues bring.

Changes in how individuals and teams are working has exposed us all to different styles, thinking and perspectives. Whether it is shifting to remote working, increased globalization or a move to a new function or sector due to restructuring, we are experiencing new colleagues and viewpoints. Appreciating differences between colleagues brings a greater sense of respect and belonging.

This is more than simply effective teamwork. This is about developing a stronger employee experience.

3) Break Down the Psychological Barriers to Career Development 

Organisations looking to create a more diverse workforce need to consider the internal signposts and support offered around skills development and career progression.

Hidden, historical and unconscious bias may have become ingrained in processes or psychological barriers may have built up within individuals. They may assume that particular career paths are only available to others or that there is little support for them to make the change. Also, they may not have considered a future career move due to a lack of role models.

Organisations can: 

  • Encourage and build self-belief across the workforce that development and progression is available, possible and achievable.
  • Coach around career progression and development to those from minority backgrounds.
  • Showcase successful underrepresented talent groups, positioning them as achievable role models.
  • Help talent to consider the outcomes of further development and how it aligns with their own priorities.

4) Adopt a Data-Driven Approach to Action 

Talent assessment helps to measure the first three of these considerations for DE&I programs. It provides the data and metrics for tracking and monitoring the impact and progress of an organisation’s DE&I strategy. 

To deliver a sustainable DE&I program, organisations need to view talent data continuously and across candidate and employee touchpoints.

Dashboards can track and model the current and future diversity profiles of an organisation. This means that issues can be identified, and targeted intervention taken. Organisations can then begin to proactively address challenges around diversity and inclusion, rather than reacting and playing catch-up.

5) Make Use of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

The use of AI to support HR and talent teams is not new and its capability to support DE&I programs is now being recognised. Aon’s human-centered AI that sits within our video assessment capabilities supports a bias-free assessment.

Such assessments collect unstructured data from candidate-recorded responses to specific interview questions. The technology assesses this data against the ADEPT-15® personality and behavioral framework and highlights both the positive and negative behavioral indicators for the specific role against the desired requirements.

In short, the algorithm embedded within the AI mimics how a human would rate the responses based only on the speech content. This is the most predictive and stable indicator of job performance. The focus only on the spoken word removes all non-verbal cues and eradicates the potential of cognitive biases humans can (often unknowingly) bring when making hiring decisions. Making use of human-centered AI has significant value for supporting DE&I within organisations.

6) Recognise the Need to Focus on Future Skills 

If organisations are to build more heterogeneous workforces, they need to rethink the job models, profiles and person specifications against which they are hiring.

Traditionally, when developing a success profile or outlining what it takes to succeed in a role, job incumbents and stakeholders have a strong voice. Yet this traditional approach may provide too narrow a focus for a future in which other skills and behaviors are needed.

To ensure that a greater difference of perspective and diversity of experience is introduced, a more strategic approach is needed. 

Aon has developed its Future Skills Model against which organisations can benchmark their current prevalence of those skills needed now and in the future. 

Next Steps

It requires the capability to understand how different initiatives work together and impact each other to drive DE&I. For many talent leaders, such a view is difficult to achieve. Data typically sits in silos across the organization. There may simply be a lack of resources or a lack of resources with the right expertise to interpret the data or even a lack of reliable data. This can make it problematic to measure the impact of change in people programs. 

Contact myself at stefan.hinrichsen@aon.com to discuss building a sustainable DE&I program. 

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