Do you want to boost the development of under-represented talent? Strengthen partnerships CLO, CDO – Chief Learning Officer


Not only is the role of the head of diversity growing and becoming more and more vital, it is evolving at breakneck speed. In November 2020, LinkedIn reported that CDO was the fastest growing C-suite title of the year, growing 84% from 2019. But considering the generally limited size of a ” diversity office ”in both resources. and staff, the importance of partnerships with other government departments cannot be overstated.

In years past, the CDO typically partnered with an organization’s learning leader when it came to company-wide training to advance diversity, inclusion and bias. implied. While these efforts are well-intentioned, research shows that over the decades these programs fail at best to produce a more diverse workforce and at worst negatively impact DCI’s existing efforts. .

To bring about lasting change and improve DCI in talent development, it is crucial to reexamine the partnership between CLOs and CDOs in a way that gets the best out of both parties while solving real problems for employees. To do this, let’s focus on four key goals that employers often suggest to me when undertaking DCI strategies:

  • Elevate underrepresented talent, especially Black and LatinX talent, beyond frontline roles.
  • Businesses want to make sure the community knows about the work they do to be an inclusive employer in order to accelerate the attraction of a more diverse workforce.
  • Create a more inclusive environment so that every employee feels like they belong.
  • Implement clear goals that can be measured to ensure DCI efforts are having the desired impact.

At first glance, these goals may appear to align solely with talent acquisition, culture, or people analysis. But each of these goals illustrates how supporting talent development provides a direct and clear path to the goals of a company’s diversity office. Rather than silos these goals into separate teams, CLOs and CDOs can accomplish more by working together, while measuring and tracking progress at the same time.

Elevate the talents of Black and LatinX beyond the frontlines

In April, the National Student Clearinghouse reported the undergraduate enrollment rate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the data is grim, especially for students from under-represented populations: enrollments for black students are down 9.9%, LatinX students are down 8.2%, Native Americans by 14%, and the rate of international students is down 21%.

At the same time, many organizations are attempting to increase representation in their exempt roles by focusing on the outside by using pipelines of academic talent or their competitors, while neglecting the Black and LatinX talent they already employ. in the first line. But because this talent is so under-invested, the chasm from starting as a non-exempt employee to becoming an exempt employee seems insurmountable, as this graph based on CEPR data illustrates.

In a conversation I had with a Fortune 100 employer, the company’s L&D manager said that her team initially started reserving places in all training for black talent, and didn’t had given up these places only as a last resort. This sends a signal about the company’s strong commitment to diversity and creates space for those who might not be able to access these roles without such training. The result is a greater mix of talent, from different backgrounds, who can network across the organization, accelerate business solutions and careers, and learn about other classroom topics that matter to the organization. .

Attract a more diverse workforce
Although employee resource groups have been leveraged over the past years to identify a few people for special leadership sponsorship or accelerated learning for a small group, investment in underrepresented talent is expected to go. beyond a selected group. Instead, ERGs should be used as a channel to access each member of these groups. Organizations that wish to strengthen representation of their workforce should invest significantly in development, mentoring and sponsorship programs to help employees advance to leadership positions and close the equity gap. This can only happen when access to development programs is extended to all ERGs and marketed directly to underrepresented talent.
In another conversation I had with an apprenticeship manager at an international insurance company, he explained that the DCI team was working with hiring managers to clarify the skills required for hiring and those that could be improved after hiring. In response, the learning team is now creating intentional skills upgrading efforts to “quickly follow” the hiring process. This allows the DCI team to accelerate the hiring of under-represented talent who may not currently have the required qualifications or preferred skills at the moment, but do have the potential to be successful after improving their skills.
It is well known that investing in talent development, especially through the use of formal education or training offers, has a clear impact on the economic mobility of employees (as illustrated in the graph below based on on NCES data), retention and engagement. By targeting these same education programs among under-represented groups, companies can also generate the same positive business outcomes for these populations. Additionally, it’s important to remember that when a business is seen as a steward of its community, it will see a higher proportion of applicants from under-represented populations, which ideally translates into a higher percentage of talent. under-represented across the organization in every role.

Create a more inclusive environment
In a recent conversation with an executive at an employee survey platform, I asked if there was a correlation between a specific question in their employee survey and the inclusiveness of their workforce. She answered without hesitation: The biggest variable about workplace inclusion depended on how employees felt about the quality of their managers.
When I worked with a Fortune 100 financial services company in 2017 and 2018, we also observed that their employees ‘Net Promoter Score had the highest correlation with employees’ perception of their managers. This makes investing in managerial skills a prime example of a “mitigation effect”, where a benefit for one group also offers opportunities for others. A recent DCI skills update from the Redthread Research team indicated that managers can develop inclusive skills by also developing skills in communication, empathy, feedback, flexibility and self-awareness.
In addition to developing managers, policies and opportunities must be inclusive. Our data at Guild shows that for every dollar spent on training white employees (per capita), 81 cents is spent on black employee development and 68 cents is spent on Hispanic / LatinX employees. While these numbers are from the 1990s and are extrapolated from multiple datasets, as shown in the graph below, the numbers still reveal important information about who is really getting the most out of training dollars. Unfortunately, key players in monitoring learning and development trends do not yet capture information on spending by education level, race and gender when collecting data from employers. It is therefore crucial that actors in the learning and development sector begin to defend this information as part of the work we must continue to do to make the industry more inclusive.

Measuring the impact: inspecting what we expect
For decades, black and brown employees have been poorly served by good intentions coupled with poor execution. It is essential that these aforementioned initiatives are adopted with a clear eye on measuring progress and impact.
While it is essential that underrepresented talent is considered at all levels of a company in the hiring process, organizations must continually strive to create lasting equality and fairness for their employees, even after they are hired. To assess this, there are many data points that can be measured as a result of more intentional skill enhancement of existing employees, broken down by race. This includes engagement scores such as NPS, retention rates, inclusion scores, speed of promotion, pay equity, growth in managerial and leadership positions, and representation by team, unit. commercial, role and level. This is particularly important to disaggregate for those who participate in talent development offerings versus those who do not.
Acceleration of impact
The amount of thought, feedback, and time it takes to make a business more inclusive is enormous, but the results will be invaluable. CLOs will need to work closely with CDOs and ERGs to identify how employees seek development and the perceived barriers that hinder them. This is an opportunity for such partnerships to accelerate the ambitious goals of talent acquisition, DCI and talent development and to do so in a way that allows companies to leverage their investment externally in order to recruit even more under-represented talent.
Ultimately, when an organization’s CDO and CLO partnership is strengthened, when there are more inclusive managers, when there are clearer paths between non-exempt and exempt roles, and when all The impact of investments in talent development can be disaggregated and measured, all employees, but especially those in under-represented groups, will benefit.
The commitment to accelerating impact for black talent is best demonstrated by the OneTen coalition, which aims to hire 1 million black people over the next 10 years. This goal is not just a one-off initiative. Rather, it is a long-term, intentional effort that the best employers and executives are committed to making. These jobs will be family support jobs with opportunities for advancement for years to come. This business is supported by an ecosystem of talent providers who will identify, develop, develop and strengthen the skills of this often overlooked population. This is exactly the kind of work that L&D professionals should emulate if we are to team up with our CDO counterparts and maximize our impact, both in our organizations and in our communities.

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