Thinking Beyond W2 Workforce Inclusive Solutions

Having a diverse workforce has never been more important for organizations looking to evolve and stay ahead of their game. And building a diverse workforce today is so much more than the typical indicators we envision when we think of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

While the foundational pillars of DEI, such as race, orientation, gender, and disability, are critical to building a diverse workforce, there are myriad other diverse workers who can enrich your team and help your business thrive. These workers may be found in your W2 workforce, but further enrichment can be found by hiring diverse independent contractors.

In doing this you open your doors to a wide variety of workers who may not have otherwise been available. Think about retirees, caregivers, parents returning from work, neurodivergent candidates, veterans, and more. These workers bring different skills to the table that provide specific value. For example, a caregiver may have considerable experience dealing with multiple requirements at a time while on a very strict schedule; meanwhile, a neurodivergent candidate could bring an alternative perspective with different problem-solving skills to a project; and veterans are often equipped with strategy and project-management skills.

Bringing a more widely diverse set of workers into your organization not only enriches your talent pool and brings much-needed additional skill sets to an organization, it can also offer a flexible route to staffing projects and roles, while enabling an organization to work towards its DEI goals.

In addition, having a strong DEI position offers appeal outside of your organization, giving your DEI audience a sense of belonging, and so making your brand more inclusive and appealing. Meanwhile, being intentional about inclusion efforts creates an internal environment that workers, especially in those in underrepresented groups want to stay in, do their best work in, and invite others to explore. These things positively impact organizational bottom line, along with employer brand perception.

Those organizations looking to build their DEI environment via independent contractors of varying diverse categories, have the opportunity to utilize technology in their DEI journey. Such technology helps streamline processes, as well as enable organizations to be strategic about using independent contractors to achieve diversity goals.

The Role Technology Plays

The flexibility hiring independent contractors can bring you is enabled by technology in a number of ways. Firstly, being able to organize your diverse independent workforce based on skills, location, demographic, availability, qualifications, and more makes it quick and easy to choose the kind of candidates you would like to hire for specific projects. It also gives you the ability to easily monitor your diversity hires and ensure your workforce is meeting its DEI goals.

Additionally, using technology to create talent pools gives your independent contractors the opportunity to self-identify outside of the typical categories by allowing you to create pools of alternative skills. For example, LinkedIn recently created an option to add the skill “dyslexic thinking” to a candidate’s profile. This means organizations can now select people who offer the alternative skills dyslexic thinkers offer, such as creativity, alternative problem-solving skills, and so much more.

Self-identifying outside of standard categories also offers workers the opportunity to be seen and included in a way that may be more important or relevant to them than traditional categories. Being able to share pronouns, for example, may make a worker feel more valued and included. Using technology that makes considerations for this creates an organic opportunity to build a diverse workforce, while making it known to new hires that they are joining an inclusive culture.

Further, using technology to build talent pools of your independent contractors allows you to use that data to expand analytics on DEI outside of your W2 workforce. For organizations looking to meet diversity goals, utilizing technology to track your independent workforce allows you to easily collate data on the number of diverse workers you have at any one time, as well as allowing you to monitor things like how long the worker will be with the company, where they are based, what field they’re in, what qualifications they have.

To hear how ADP is designing HCM solutions with diversity in mind and to gain a better understanding of the need for inclusion in technology, you can listen to our recent podcast with Mark Feffer from HCM Technology Report.

Using Your Contractors Strategically

When seeking to achieve DEI goals, contractors can be used in a number of strategic ways to help you get there. It is the case that an organization may want to hire more diverse representation (ie. URGs) and often set % goals to do so. If their candidate pool is not currently including candidate options of Accountants who are people of color, for example, they can utilize many strategies. Some of those strategic uses of contractors include:

  • Hire a contractor while you continue to expand your candidate pool to give time to look for that W2 hire. to give time to source more W2 candidates from underrepresented groups (URG)

  • Create a pipeline of URG candidates that start as contractors. For example, you may have a goal to add more diversity to your accounting department but may find that there are opportunities to hire a URG contractor with an adjacent skillset (ie. Bookkeping) and train-up their skillset for that department. Hire a contractor who represents this URG as part of your total workforce management strategy and has an adjacent skillset (ie. Bookkeeping). Treat this as a means to train-up their adjacent skillset, thus creating a pipeline of URG candidates for the Accounting Team.

Companies grappling with the great realignment can also utilize independent contractors strategically to help achieve DEI goals, while also ensuring that their W2 workforce does not become burned out. As organizations continue to struggle to get new talent through the door, business has to continue. But in today’s climate, it’s critical not to overwork your employees while you try to fill open positions. Hiring a diverse, temporary workforce can be the key to preventing burnout from happening. Consider the following pointers when it comes to utilizing a diverse pool of contractors:

  • Bring in contractors to maintain business operations, support permanent staff, and not get behind the eight ball

  • Diversity goals can take time – while you’re working towards those goals, non-W2 workers can bridge the skills gaps you may have

  • Bring in contractors to fill positions you may not be able to fill that can be done on a contract basis, enabling you to utilize diverse talent that is seeking flexibility/short-term opportunities (for example, caregivers, retirees, returning mothers, etc.)