If you have noticed the variety and multitude of studies on diversity in the workplace, you are aware of the numerous benefits of 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 you are a government contractor, 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 many employers wonder: What is the point? 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 will also use it to advance their company culture.
The information can be used to showcase your organization as an inclusive employer where all have opportunities. In this tough talent market, that is pure gold. 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 leverage each for your diversity program.
- 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 and decisions for 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. In which areas do the numbers indicate that there is more talent in the recruitment area than you are finding? Are minorities in your recruitment area finding better opportunities or higher pay across the street? Do you know, or can you find out, what motivates them to stay despite those opportunities? The required goal attainment reports will show how your organization is progressing.
- Analyze Compensation: Assessing the equity of pay practices is a part of your affirmative action obligations. This crucial component of a proactive strategy will give you early indications that pay decisions need to be reviewed. Unlike in the past, the employee marketplace today is teeming with those willing to share their pay information with others.
- 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 minorities dropping out after a supervisor takes them to tour the operations, 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? 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. What better way to find the most effective recruitment partners for reaching applicants who may, in the past, have not been able to find you? 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 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!
Source: Susan Abler, Manager, Affirmative Action, MRA - The Management Association