The current spotlight on systemic racism in the US is refocusing attention on a critical conversation for businesses: the importance of diversity in the world and the workplace. People want to live in a more equitable world and are demanding that systems and organizations - including businesses - do a better job of shaping such a world.
Along with being the right thing to do, diversity is good for business. Investing in diversity initiatives increases profitability, promotes innovation, and opens up business opportunities, all while improving employee engagement and productivity. But while there’s a focus on promoting diversity in the traditional employee workforce, contingent workforce diversity goes largely ignored. Given that contingent workers make up an estimated 40% of the American workforce, there’s clearly more attention needed by hiring organizations.
So how can you build a truly diverse contingent workforce that includes all types of workers? An important first step is to extend your existing diversity and inclusion initiatives to all your contract, temp and other non-employee workers. But that alone is not enough. Working with the right suppliers is key. Staffing suppliers play an important role in helping you hire contingent workers, right from sourcing and screening candidates to onboarding and managing them. Working with diverse suppliers can help you successfully diversify your entire contingent workforce program.
In general, a diverse supplier is a business that is at least 51% owned and operated by an individual or group of persons who are part of a traditionally underrepresented or underserved group. Diverse suppliers are classified into many different categories, but some of the most common types of diverse suppliers are businesses owned by minorities, women, LGBTQ+ persons, veterans, and people with disabilities. Small businesses and businesses in historically underutilized business (HUB) zones are also diverse suppliers.
It’s best to work with diverse suppliers that have been certified by third-party agencies. This ensures that the business really is diversity-owned and that your spend with them counts towards diversity spend.
With a diverse supplier program, you can do what’s good for business while doing what’s good for the world.
Diverse suppliers often proactively source candidates from the communities they represent. As a result, you can access an expanded talent pool of diverse candidates that could otherwise be overlooked.
And while you may not think candidates care about your diverse supplier program, research shows that they do. A survey conducted by consumer insights firm Hootology found that 52% of candidates wanted to work for businesses with a supplier diversity and inclusion program. By signalling your strong commitment to diversity, you attract qualified candidates for full-time and temporary positions, especially millennials and Gen Z.
In addition, your business’ diversity and inclusion initiatives don’t have to be limited to your workforce. By working with diverse suppliers, your business has a strong positive impact on underrepresented and underserved communities while benefiting from improved business outcomes and gaining access to significant business opportunities with large clients.
How? We’ll explain shortly.
To diversify your contingent workforce, start by diversifying your staffing suppliers. In addition to supplying candidates from all groups, many staffing suppliers that are diversity certified proactively work with individuals in their communities to help them find great opportunities. For instance, there are veteran-owned staffing suppliers that dedicatedly work towards bringing veterans into the civilian workforce. Similarly, many women-owned staffing suppliers proactively help women enter the workforce.
These suppliers have a deeper understanding of the challenges of candidates belonging to underrepresented social groups. Their expertise makes them best placed to help you hire qualified candidates from talent pools that you may not otherwise be able to reach.
Instituting a diverse supplier program enables you to tap into the diverse talent pools of multiple qualified suppliers, boosting competition. To stay competitive, suppliers are incentivized to drive down costs and offer a better service experience.
Plus, diverse suppliers are often small, so they tend to be more flexible and agile than larger businesses, which makes them able to pivot quickly to meet changing demands. They also tend to be more creative and innovative so that they can set themselves apart from larger and non-minority suppliers. Having a diverse supply base makes your talent pipeline more resilient and agile when life throws curveballs at your business.
But that’s not all. Your diverse supplier program will also enable you to access large business opportunities with the government and even some large private corporations. Under the Small Business Subcontracting Program, any business contracting with the Federal government above a certain threshold is required to subcontract with certified small and minority-owned businesses. Many state and local governments have similar regulations in place. Working with certified diverse staffing suppliers can help your business meet the diverse spend targets laid out in your subcontracting plan. Hires made through certified diverse suppliers like Crowdstaffing count towards tier 1 diversity spend. And finally, partnering with women and minority-owned suppliers allows you to benefit from federal tax breaks.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives to create a more equitable world can extend beyond the workforce itself. There are 1.1 million minority-owned businesses in the US employing 8.7 million people. But minority-owned businesses earn only 48% of the revenue of their non-minority counterparts due to structural inequalities in education, access to capital and markets.
By working with a diverse supplier, you create economic opportunities for local communities represented by the supplier and support their growth. In the process, you highlight that your priorities align with your customers and candidates - you care and are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen working towards building an equitable world.
You might be thinking: “All this sounds great. But I don’t have the time or resources to actually make it happen.” It’s true that managing multiple suppliers has never been easy, and consciously creating a diverse supplier program that actually works takes effort. But that’s where a staffing managed service provider (MSP) can help.
A capable staffing MSP/VMS provider can help your business create a robust and compliant diverse supplier program. They can take care of finding diverse suppliers, verifying certifications, tracking and reporting Tier 1 and 2 diversity spend, all in addition to regular supplier onboarding and management functions.
At Crowdstaffing, we take it one step further. As a certified minority-owned business ourselves, we care deeply about diversity and have first-hand experience in the diverse supplier ecosystem. We leverage our expertise to actively source certified small and minority-owned businesses to join our crowd of thousands of vetted talent suppliers.
We also proactively attempt to partner with certified diverse talent suppliers that truly care about workforce diversity, including in their own organizations. Our numbers reflect our commitment to having a diverse supplier base.
When you hire through Crowdstaffing, you tap into a pre-vetted crowd of thousands of talent suppliers. Since we are a certified tier 1 diverse supplier, all hires made through the Crowdstaffing VMS count towards tier 1 diversity spend. And our built-in AI makes hiring outstanding candidates easy, matching you to the most capable suppliers and candidates in real-time.