As policy makers and corporate leaders alike respond to the trials brought on by COVID-19, we are witnessing an acceleration of many of the “Future of Work” trends, such as an increase in remote working and learning facilitated by a plethora of tech-based tools. Despite the affirmation of these pro-technology predictions, the global community has also begun to learn a lesson: there is no substitute for human reasoning in decision-making.
There has been a second massive social and cultural movement underway to which this lesson can apply: the importance of human reason over systems extends beyond a pandemic response directly to how organizations and corporations are responding to the United States national discourse around race relations, equity, and equality. As groups jockey to show support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, either motivated by core values or public perception, we have seen an increase in partnerships. This is a good thing, as the right partnerships can create a sound strategy for impactful engagement. However, I will return to my original point heralding the value of human leadership and argue that the most transformational partnerships at this time will not be about direct cash transfer, but rather focused on structural change. This change begins, first and foremost, with diversity and inclusion.
Studies show that a commitment to diversity and inclusion leads to a more successful decision-making process and output, as well as saves billions in employee hiring and retention. The future workforce is increasingly looking for diversity in key decision-making areas, and wants to see internal operating cultures that not only commit to hire persons of diverse backgrounds, but actively work to retain that workforce, through equity in programs, processes, and incentive packages. But what does that look like, in practice?
Companies looking to support BLM and other groups that promote greater diversity should develop partnerships with groups achieving workforce pipeline change at the structural level, like Code2040 (a non-profit committed to increase Black and Latinx talent in the tech and innovation sector). Even Capitol Hill is acknowledging the importance of diversifying its recruitment, enhanced through last year’s commitment to minimum wage for interns and the development of a new House Office of Diversity and Inclusion this March. Companies can also partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or state schools with a diverse student population to design recruitment tools and job descriptions that not only adhere to the hiring goals of the company, but also resonate with a wider talent pool, ensuring a wider net is cast and that the talent pipeline is strong from the outset.
Employee retention is another area where partnerships can provide value, and companies cannot afford to just take actions that look good in a press release. Activist groups receiving corporate donations should continue to work with those donors on actionable measures they can take to lead by example. Progress must be made at every level, and checks absent change reinforces a system that equates monetary wealth with moral value. A further action separate from direct company D&I, but still supporting the movement through structural change and inclusivity, includes diversifying procurement chains to support Black-owned businesses.
As the world careens to an increasingly automated space, it’s imperative that we preserve and invest in systems that support diversity in the workforce and contribute to racial progress. Now, like never before, that workforce must be diversified and empowered to contribute to racial progress. Partnerships can be a powerful strategy towards this goal, while also improving companies’ success and opening new opportunities for businesses in the long-term, and therefore should be designed to endure long past the media headlines.
Hanne Dalmut is Senior Director of Partnership Development at Concordia, a global nonprofit that develops cross-sector collaborations that combat global challenges and achieve positive social impact. Hanne leads the department to broker, frame, advise, and construct new partnerships on behalf of Concordia's international member base, as well as advance thought leadership strengthening the partnering ecosystem. Hanne also manages the P3 Impact Award, an annual award created by Concordia, the University of Virginia, and the U.S. Department of State to recognize best practices of public-private partnerships (P3s), and oversees the Concordia Innovation Finance Coalition. Prior to Concordia, Hanne worked at the U.S. Institute of Peace on special projects, including the 2014 Congressional National Defense Panel Review.
Book a private consultation with Hanne at Poligage.com to discuss how to structure your corporate strategy to leverage partnerships for better inclusion, other Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues, and Public-Private Partnerships (P3s).