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Veronica Frisch is the executive vice-president and head of Randstad Sourceright Canada

Increasingly, organizations have come to realize the many benefits of building a diversified work force. For example, prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the workplace can build comradery, boost morale, and increase production and quality across the board. These factors, in turn, can help enhance customer relations, boost business growth and improve hiring outcomes.

It’s clear that companies are connecting the dots when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, at work. But our Randstad Sourceright 2022 Talent Trends report shows that leaders may not be doing enough to protect or reach their goals.

According to our research, 88 per cent of Canadian business leaders say DEI is embedded in their talent strategies and is integral to everything they do. But when it comes to practice versus theory, just 54 per cent say their hiring practices supported their diversity goals in 2021. Organizations perhaps put their goals on the backburner as they continued to manage operational emergencies and increased hiring demand last year.

Not making diversity and inclusion a priority in your organization could not only hinder your company’s ability to attract new talent, but it also may drive some of your current workers away. Eighty per cent of Canadian business leaders surveyed believe DEI practices that are evident and embedded in the organization are important to candidates.

At a time when the job market is highly competitive and the skills gap continues to grow, the ability to attract and retain top talent is crucial.

Knowing how your current staff feels about the diversity and inclusion in your workplace is the first step to finding out what is going well and what is happening that’s less than favourable. From here, you’ll be able to gauge the missing links in your diversity and inclusion strategy. Getting feedback from all levels of your company – from management to employees – will bring your team together, all while you gain valuable insights.

How can companies sustain the momentum behind their DEI efforts?

Firstly, it’s crucial to secure buy-in from senior leadership. This type of vast program must start at the top level and work itself down.

DEI goals need to be embedded in all key strategic planning activities to reinforce behaviours and messages. If you want a truly diverse and equitable organization, DEI should be integrated into every aspect of the hiring process – from intake to hire. This includes posting, sourcing, screening and interviewing, providing feedback, and determining offer parameters.

Human resources leaders who dedicate budgets to update their recruitment practices, invest in technology, broaden inclusion and belonging training, and engage more diverse professionals throughout their talent cycle will keep their businesses on track.

In addition, companies are now looking at technologies and artificial intelligence to help remove bias from the hiring process. When using technology to eliminate bias, they need to ensure that results are explainable and transparent. Evaluate your language and biases in job requirements, performance reviews and other talent facing processes.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about the world of work. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.

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