F: Welcome to Subject to Talent brought to you by Allegis Global Solutions. Similar to you, we're always trying to learn more. On this podcast, we speak to talent experts around the world covering workforce management, market trends, technology and our forever evolving dynamic industry.
F: Hey everyone, welcome back to Subject to Talent. For those of you joining for the first time, welcome, we're really happy to have you. My name's Frank Edge and I'm so excited to bring you another episode. Today we have the pleasure of spending some time with Ian Moses. Ian is the head of global inclusion and diversity at Allegis Global Solutions. We'll be learning more about I and D in the industry and why it's so important. Ian has been in the industry for almost 20 years. He is currently responsible for developing and promoting AGS's inclusion and diversity strategy with our employees, partners and clients. Welcome Ian. Thank you so much for coming in today. How's it going? Are you comfortable?
I: I am. I'm very comfortable. Thank you for having me. So I'm excited to do this and looking forward to having a deep dive into inclusion and diversity.
F: So before we begin, a question we like to ask all of our guests, how did you get into this industry?
I: Yeah, so I've been with the Allegis family going on 19 years and during that time I've had an opportunity to participate in several different roles within the organization. And one day I was sitting at my desk and someone asked me if I knew of anyone that would be interested in a diversity recruiter role. So I said to myself, "What is that?" And I reached out to an individual who was in the role at the time and I got further information on what she did and what were some of her responsibilities and it intrigued me. So I started to do my own research and I looked into where organizations were going in this space and I found it very interesting to me that I would be a natural fit for this because of all the things that I had been doing already working within communities, within different organizations and just supporting a lot of the underrepresented groups that are out there. So it made sense for me to then transition into what we call this diversity recruiter role. So that's how I got my start.
F: That's really cool to hear.
F: So kicking off with a big one here, all right? Why do we need inclusion and diversity in the workplace?
I: When you think about inclusion and diversity, let's start with this. Diversity without inclusion is a story of missed opportunities. Now you see so many employees who work for organizations get overlooked because of their differences. Now when you bring the inclusion to the diversity, now you have this potent mix of talent retention and engagement because people feel like they can actually bring their ideas, their authentic selves to work. And so it's so important for organizations to adopt this mindset because it allows employees to be innovative. It allows employees to connect to the differences or the different people that they work with. It allows employees to be authentic in how they show up so they're not physically drained when they leave that eight hour day. And it stands us apart or it stands organizations apart from their competitors. There are organizations that do this well and there are some organizations that are striving to do it well. I don't think anyone has it all figured out, but you can see a difference when an organization is making an effort to be more inclusive of a business.
F: And that's such a good point because it's not a tick box exercise.
F: It actually brings benefits to the organizations like you said and yeah, it's amazing.
I: Yes, absolutely.
F: And so if we look at the world decade by decade, you can definitely see that the workplace, it's been slowly progressing, but this decade in particular, it's seen a huge push with I and D come to the forefront for a lot of companies. And why do you think this is happening now?
I: Yeah, there's a couple of reasons and a lot of different factors that are contributing to this. You look at the global nature of business now, right? It's very easy for you or myself or anyone to be interacting with someone in a completely different country. And so in order to have successful business transactions or conversations or partnerships with people across the globe, you have to look at things with an inclusive lens. And so it's important for organizations to not only invest in inclusion and diversity, but they also have to bring a level of awareness to all employees, especially if you are a global organization like AGS. So you'll see more and more organizations making this move because one, they understand, hey, the global nature of business. And then you look at your consumers, your employees, your end users, they're all different, right? There's not just one certain type of buyer these days. And so in order for companies to appeal to those different buyers, attract those different employees and connect to those different individuals, they have to put a focus on inclusion and diversity. So those demographics are more inclined to spend money with these companies or even go to work for these companies because it does matter.
F: Okay. I love that point because it's about being reflective of your customer base and if you don't understand how your customers think-
I: How do you make money?
F: So what things can an organization do to fully embrace I and D?
I: I think each organization is different, right? And I think each industry is different. So there's not a one trick pony that says, "Hey, you do this and I and D is going to be fully embraced within your organization." I think there are some organizations and certain skillsets that lend itself to a more male dominated industry. Right? And then there are some that lend itself to a more female dominated industry.
I: But I think there are a couple of things that we've done at AGS that has allowed us to fully embrace it. One of the things that we've focused on is the awareness piece of it and engagement. And awareness is just being able to help people understand all the differences that exist around you, right? A lot of times our go to for diversity is going to be race and gender, but now there are multiple dimensions of diversity that you have to help people to see such as being a parent, age diversity, your classism, the differences that we all bring to the table. I don't just stand in front of you as an African American male, I also stand in front of you as a father. I also stand in front of you as a Christian. I also stand in front of you as a former athlete. So there's so many dimensions, excuse me, to Ian that you don't know just by looking at me. You have to take the time to get to know who I am. And the most important one to me, what would you think it is Frank?
F: Oh man, oh I don't know.
I: So being a father, right? That's probably the most
I: Yeah, and so you won't know that about me unless you ask, right?
I: Yeah. So creating that awareness, I think it's very important for organizations to do. Another thing that we've built here at AGS is our ERGs And so our ERGs are also a vehicle through which individuals can connect. You can have some intersectionality while having some commonalities. You just have a group of individuals that are able to come together and have discussions and bring their great ideas in a safe space. So our ERGs are a huge component to the organization embracing I and D. We've seen a huge uptick in our ERGs over the last year and so that has helped us, especially with AGS being a 40% remote organization. How do you connect people that sit remotely or work on the client side or may sit in one of our hubs? We have to find a way to connect them and we're using our ERGs as that vehicle.
F: Ian, just for our listeners actually, ERGs, we're talking about them right now. What does ERG stand for?
I: Yeah, employee resource groups. And what those are are groups that allow for different demographics, different groups within organizations or around the world to come together to have discussions around different things that impact maybe that particular group. And then also find ways to add some intersectionality in there amongst the multiple employee resource groups that exist. Currently right now at AGS we have 16 employee resource groups globally. We have our work connections and we have our ability to know what we need to do on a day to day task oriented. You have your job, I have my job. But when you bring the personal aspect into the workplace, you allow people to build a level of relationships that don't normally happen in the workplace. People are a little, I come to work and I go home, right? My relationships are at home. Well, more and more those relationships matter and they allow people to feel included into the place that they spend most of their lives.
F: I read a lot about how there's work life balance and there's also a work life blend.
F: Where you're bringing your home life to work and you can talk about it openly and that helps because you're not two people. You're the same person the whole time and you can feel comfortable and you feel included in things.
I: Yeah. The last thing I think is so beneficial for organizations to fully embrace I and D is getting or aligning with the right partners. So we do not claim to have it all figured out and we have so much more room to grow. But it is our partnerships with different organizations such as Linkage, such as PurpleSpace, Disability:IN, Getting Hired, National Sales Network. There are so many different organizations that focus on those underrepresented groups that we are now aligning ourselves with, we're allowing our employees to partner with, attend conferences. And so it's nothing like being able to go to a work function where you're a part of the majority if you haven't been. So our partners are a huge part of our success. Our partners are a huge part of our strategy because we've seen a lot of lift in retention of the individuals that we send to these different conferences or partner with these different organizations and they bring some of the ideas that we just don't have in house. So as we continue to grow and expand, our partnerships with external organizations are key. And I think there's no organization that can do it alone. You just can't say, "Hey we have this figured out and we're going to keep it in house." You have to extend the branch to reach out to organizations that can help you with some of the areas because we don't have all the answers.
F: That's great.
F: I want to talk about leaders and how important is leadership when promoting I and D within a business?
I: Yeah, so for me that is the most important. Leadership's ability and desire to lead inclusively and model those behaviors for inclusive leaderships sets the standard for the rest of the organization. So they have to be involved, it has to matter to them. They have to be involved with those partnerships, within those ERGs, within those workshop sessions, because they need to hear what people are experiencing and feeling and how they're showing up. And so if your leaders aren't involved and playing an active role, you'll get a lot of great groundswell, but there won't be any meeting in the middle. So it's so important for me in any organization to have the leader involvement. And I'm fortunate that in my second year of being with AGS, I've had that leadership involvement across the globe. So we just still got a ways to go and we'll continue to drive the car to the direction that we need to go.
F: Yeah. I mean yeah, yeah. Everyone needs to be involved, right?
I: That's it, everyone plays a part.
F: So when a company embraces I and D, how does that affect their partners, their clients, prospects? Like how does it affect the ecosystem around them?
I: Yeah. So when it comes to employees, obviously there's a huge opportunity for retention and attraction, right? So that's the obvious. But when you look at your external clients or your partnerships, when I and D becomes a part of the fabric and it's just what we do, it creates the ability to align with partners who hold some of the same values, right? And so organizations want to work with other good organizations. I don't want to be a great organization working with a bad organization. I need to know that this is an area of focus for you and that it's important to you and your leadership team and you guys are actually doing something to move the needle. So the more that we do, the more that our external clients and partners appreciate because they see that this is not just something that we talk about. This is actually something that we're trying to live out on a day to day.
F: You want your suppliers to be on the same page with the same mission. So yeah, they understand your goals. Yeah.
I: Yeah. And everyone's not going to be at the same place at the same time. So we're not asking for people to just dive in with both feet but we do have to make some changes. And I think that's all organizations. If we're wanting to create equity, there're some things that have to happen and so we have to work together to get there. And it's amazing to see this community of inclusion and diversity practitioners, when they come together there's a lot of sharing. I just had an opportunity to attend the CEO Action in New York city and it had well over 100 diversity practitioners in a room and the wealth of sharing and the openness to connect with one another, it's there, because we all are driving towards the same goal. So if you're not an organization that's moving in that direction, do I really want to partner with you? And so those are things to think about, right? Because we understand the importance of it.
F: So you have sometimes where organizations with a lack of diversity among their workforce will point out the sparseness of suitably experienced or trained people available. Is this a valid point? And if so can we do something about it?
I: Yeah, and that's a yes and no answer. I'd say depending on where you are within the world, yes. You look at the census demographics and you look at the clients or the companies in those areas, we can't make certain dimensions or certain demographics of diversity appear that don't exist in certain parts of the world. But you also have the other factor of several companies are also striving for inclusion and diversity. So there's going to be a level of competition to go after this talent.. But if you put a focus on it, you put the right resources in place, I believe that you can do a better job of attracting those individuals because there are companies that are better than others in this area. So when an individual of an underrepresented group identifies those companies, they're more inclined to go work for those organizations because they know that they will feel included. They will have a voice within the organization and they can be their authentic selves. You have to make an effort to focus on it though, it can't be something that you say, "Oh, this is just going to happen if we go and recruit." No, there's companies that have been working on this for decades and so they have it figured out and they are inclusive. But if I'm going to go try to attract women to come work for an all male organization, how are they going to feel once they walk into that environment? Is that environment inclusive for them enough to feel like they can succeed and sustain? And if those factors don't exist, then those women are going to leave. And it's the same for any other underrepresented group where people with disabilities, veterans, people of color or BAME within the UK. So you do have to be conscious of those efforts in trying to go after diverse talent. It does exist, but it's not going to be easily found.
F: I want to talk about unconscious bias, it's something that comes up quite a lot. So how important is it to recognize unconscious bias and is there anything we can do about it?
I: Yeah, that's another critical area to focus on if companies want to move the needle on I and D. Unconscious bias, we all have it, right? We all have it in one way, shape or form. And so the first step is to be able to recognize that you have a bias and then we also need to make people feel comfortable with the fact that, hey, it's okay to be biased. To be biased is to be human. It's not about the actual bias that you have, but it's about how do you slow your brain down to be able to mitigate that bias, to take it from that unconscious state to more of a conscious state, because it's not going to go away. So if companies are really serious about doing this, you look at all the aspects of business where bias exists, in hiring, promoting, succession planning, BD, recruitment. Bias exists in all parts of the organization. Is it going to go away? No. But we can give employees and leaders the tools to be able to slow down and mitigate that bias in a way that allows them to really think about it before they just pull the trigger or make a fast decision.
F: That's a great point and it can be quite a brave thing to admit that you've got a bias and to recognize it and, yeah, to work on that. Because we all like to think we're open and we're inclusive and we're naturally like that because we're good people. But like you said, everyone's got a bias.
I: Yeah, and based on our background, based on how we grew up and the way that we see the world, sometimes we have blind spots. I don't know what it's like to live the life of a Hispanic female, right? I don't know what that's like. But if I'm open, right? And I slow down, I can learn and I can have some sort of connection and I can find those commonalities. But it takes work and it takes time and it takes mitigating your bias in order for you to see those areas of opportunity or those ways to improve. And I think the organizations that are doing well have spent some time on this. This isn't just something that they've done within the last two years, but they've been working on this for, like I said, decades. So they're further along.
F: I'm moving onto the final question now, so where do you see I and D now in the workplace and where would you like to see it in the future?
I: Yeah, and I can say not all organizations are created equally. I think in several organizations there is a business imperative for I and D. I see in some organizations it's a nice to have, right? It's the right thing to do. Where I'd like to see the future for I and D is where organizations see I and D as a separate department or another department or another function of the organization and they're able to measure the return on investment. For leadership, for the organization as a whole to have I and D integrated within the fabric of everything that they do. So having teams of I and D professionals just as you would have a team of HR professionals. Having teams of I and D professionals just as you would have a communications team. Right? And so I think the companies that do this well have individuals focusing on this in multiple areas, in the talent attraction phase, in the succession planning phase, in the talent management, the actual training and development. It can't just be, "Okay, we're going to recruit diverse talent and that's where we're going to put our focus." There needs to be other individuals spread out throughout the organization that focus on I and D to help in all those different areas that bias may show up and providing that guidance and that resource to our leaders and our people in the organization to come to when they don't know. Because remember, we all don't know everything, so if we don't have those individuals in place to be that resource, then you'll still have a lot of people at that same phase of lacking awareness
F: Ian, that was fantastic. Thank you. I really enjoyed speaking to you today. Thank you so much for coming in.
I: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I appreciate the time and I'm looking forward to doing this again at some point.
F: Perfect. Ian Moses everyone, thank you.
F: Hey everyone. Thanks for listening today. A special thanks to Ian Moses for spending some time with us. And if you would like to learn more about AGS' inclusion and diversity efforts, please check us out at allegisglobalsolutions.com. If you have any questions for us, or Ian, feel free to tweet us at Allegis Global with the hashtag subject to talent. Also, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed our podcast today, please subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. Until next time, cheers!