The variety and multitude of studies on diversity in the workplace have shown numerous benefits related to diversity initiatives, including improved employee engagement, increased customer satisfaction, and a healthier bottom line. More leaders than ever now know that valuing diversity is not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.
Here’s some great news: If your organization is required to develop and implement an affirmative action plan (AAP), you already have a tremendous start on a diversity strategy. You can leverage the regulatory requirements as part of a strategy to be more successful and competitive.
When you develop an AAP, you compile data and write a narrative, but then what? The information contained in your AAP shows movement toward your goals and the efforts to achieve those goals. Those who understand the value of this content can leverage it to make their plans come alive. The data is too rich not to use to influence and build leading edge HR programs to support your workforce.
Below are some basic requirements of your AAP, with ideas for how you can actively manage your plan as the foundation for your diversity strategy.
Complete the Narrative: Your customized affirmative action narratives detail your HR practices and procedures related to equal opportunity. You took the time to spell out the company’s solutions. This as an ideal basis for communications about diversity initiatives.
Measure Success Through Statistical Analyses: Workforce analysis is required to determine whether the representation of gender and race/ethnicity and other characteristics in your job groups reasonably compares to available workforce statistics for similar jobs (such as the U.S. Census). This is one qualitative way to measure the success of your diversity initiatives. The numbers “tell a story” upon which you can build. If, for example, you find lower representation of women in a job group in a given year, a closer look may remind you that several of your key professionals were recruited by a rival firm with on-site day care. The data you compile for affirmative action allows you to conduct meaningful cost-benefit analyses when making decisions related to what is offered to those working for you and how you position yourself when recruiting.
Review Placement Goals and Goal Attainment Report: The goals report produced by the results of the statistical analysis can serve as the basis for a recruitment strategy for women, people of color, individuals with disabilities and protected veterans. In which areas do the numbers indicate that there is more talent in the recruitment area than you are finding? What outreach efforts are you using? Are you tapping into internal employee resource groups? Do you know, or can you find out, what motivates employees to stay? The required goal attainment reports will show how your organization is progressing.
Analyze Compensation: Assessing the equity of pay practices is a crucial component of a proactive strategy that will give you early indications that pay decisions need to be reviewed.
Track Progress: Documenting the steps of your process—and the results—of workforce activities including promotions, terminations, and applicant flow can be a rich source of information about where people drop out of the selection process within your organization. If you find candidates dropping out after a supervisor takes them to tour the building, you can explore further to determine whether there are some inadvertent signals being given that they may not be welcome. Do you know if everyone involved with hiring knows how to handle requests for accommodations for religion or disability? Is your current employee referral program resulting in "like me" recommendations that are not enhancing your diversity? The data showing how and where people move through opportunities can be eye-opening.
Monitor Recruitment: Your AAP must include details about, and results of, your outreach efforts to recruit qualified minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans. Take the time to evaluate the most effective recruitment partners for reaching applicants and build real relationships with them. The data you gather will tell you what works and where you may be wasting your time.
As you can see, the range of ways you can align "check-in-the-box" compliance efforts to improve your recruitment, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, employer branding, and numerous other practices is rich. Instead of a random, fingers-crossed approach to diversity, you can mine the data in your AAP to direct the work most effectively. That is powerful!
If you need assistance with your affirmative action plan creation, or want to focus on diversity metrics and reporting, our Affirmative Action team of experts can help. Get in touch with Hilary Hauser, Manager, Affirmative Action, to find out how you can jumpstart your AAP to reach our diversity and inclusion goals. She can be reached at Hilary.Hauser@mranet.org or give MRA a call at 800.488.4845.