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After the ongoing social unrest and the pandemic shed light on existing inequities, we’re seeing leaders who may have been traditionally silent about such issues speaking out, with many companies ramping up their support for diversity and inclusion within their organizations. Businesses play a role in driving equality. It’s not only the right thing to do; it’s also good for business, in terms of profitability, increased innovation and broader talent pools. Moreover, racism has cost the US economy $16 trillion in 20 years, according to a study by Citigroup.

While many companies have focused their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on their full-time employees, they may be missing mark if they don’t also extend inclusion initiatives to their contingent workforce. That’s because, for many companies, temp workers, contractors and consultants make up as much as 50% of their workforce.

It’s time to meet the moment: If your DE&I initiatives focus only on full-time employees, this is an amazing opportunity for you to bring your employees together to advance inclusion across your entire workforce, including contingent workers.

When I began this journey two years ago, launching Consciously Unbiased at CWS Summit and highlighting the need to go beyond diversity spend to diversity hiring, I was humbled by the response. It’s time to collectively make that a reality.

As enterprise leaders, especially those in HR and procurement, you have the power to lead the change for creating diversity and inclusion roadmaps that will materially have a big impact on your organization – and, in turn, on our society.

This is not one-size-fits-all; each company has a unique culture and set of needs. Here are some ideas for getting started.

Start from the top down. Your leadership needs to get behind the mission to make it successful, so focus on the competitive advantage for greater buy in. The U.S. will be a “minority” white by 2045, according to Census projections. If you’re not prioritizing DE&I across your entire workforce, your company will be less competitive than those that make it a big focus.

Stories matter. It’s important to connect the heart and mind in order to build the empathy needed to create change. An important step is highlighting the stories of employees and allies in your organization who are building belonging to help inspire others to do the same. You might encourage your marketing and HR departments to collaborate on ways to amplify the stories of your employees through internal communications, social media and in town halls.

Tie DE&I goals to compensation. If diversity is a goal, then treat it just like any other business goal and tie it to managers’ and leaders’ compensation and bonus structure. Track the metrics that matter, such as hiring and retention of diverse talent, pathways to advancement and closing pay gaps.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but with a commitment to making steps, both big and small, you can help build belonging for your entire workforce. Doing so can have an impact on your company, and on our society. I believe there is a place for both profit and purpose in the business world.

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