From Company Statements to Strategic Imperative; DEI Lands a Permanent Spot on Agendas


Leslie Vickrey: We're good to go. All right. I think we're live right. So here we go. All right, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'll go ahead and get us kicked off. Hi, I'm Leslie Vickery. I am the founder and CEO of ClearEdge Marketing. I'm also the co-founder of a group called ARA Mentors, which stands for attracting, retaining and advancing women in tech.

Leslie Vickrey: And I have the distinguished honor of moderating. This round table here today. So thank you to the world staffing summit for putting together this event. And thank you to the panelists for joining me here today. I'll do a quick introduction of everyone by name, and then I've asked them each to introduce themselves as they go through their first question.

Leslie Vickrey: So, the first time I listened, I have Sunny Ackerman. She's the president of the Americas for specialist staffing solutions or Sthree. Ross Cadastre who's the founder and CEO at Innovative Talent Solutions. And he is the president of the Black Business and Professional Association. We also have Don Harvey joining us, who is the SVP of diversity, equity and inclusion for Kforce and Korryn Williamson, who is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Insight Global.

Leslie Vickrey: So quite a lineup here today. Thank you all for lending your thoughts and opinions on such a critical topic at such a critical time. It's really a time filled with precautions for safely bringing employees back to the office. As we all know in various capacities, we have new technologies. We have new standards and processes and really new terminology that we're all learning every single day and new conversations around DE&I , which is again why it's so important to have people dedicated to the role and function itself.

Leslie Vickrey: There is no longer a side conversation that's for sure, 2022 is the year to review the commitment to make. I know myself and my team. We just did this yesterday and continue to make strides on that front. And it's really to quantify the progress and to plan for transparent updates. So while everyone is likely at different stages and knowing this group and the prep we've done and so forth, I know we're all at different stages, but we all have a stand.

Leslie Vickrey: We're all saying it's not too late to take a stand. And more importantly, we want to invite others to engage, which is why this topic here today is so important. We're going to have plenty of time for Q/A during the session. So please, we highly encourage everyone. Who joined us here today. Just to drop questions or comments into the chat.

Leslie Vickrey: And listen, seeing that we're not here together in person, it's obviously a virtual event. Let's try and take some of the virtual out of the virtual. And if you want to put your LinkedIn profiles and find ways to connect with each other, and then of course, if you happen to have any podcasts or articles or people you follow on this topic, please share it.

Leslie Vickrey: We need to learn and grow together. So please participate. And we look forward to your questions. All right, here we go. Without further ado, we're going to jump right into the session. So there's really no going back. How 2021 and 2020 really have brought positive, equitable change to the forefront.

Leslie Vickrey: Not too long ago. This was a generalized training that kind of checked the box with DE&I , unfortunately now C-suite executives are really prioritizing DE&I, because it's become part of their environmental, social, and corporate strategy. And it's really overseeing at a board level, which increasingly is showing the importance of it.

Leslie Vickrey: So no doubt that we have in the past couple of years, really seen a really bright light spotlight on racial and social injustice. So I'm going to share a quick statistic with you. And then Don, I'm going to ask you our first question. So according to Gartner research, the number of HR leaders, identifying DE&I efforts as a top priority.

Leslie Vickrey: So again, the number Gartner research number of HR leaders, identifying DEI as a top priority, it was 1.8 times higher in 2020, then 2019. This I thought was really interesting. It also revealed that there was an 800% increase. So 800% increase in job postings for dedicated diversity recruiters. So those who are recruiting for diverse positions and roles, while still progressing, we would be remiss not to state that we have more work to do.

Leslie Vickrey: So an 800% increase done in job postings related to diversity and recruiting and DE&I being one of the fastest growing you are in a new role for DE&I newish role now for K force. Tell us a little bit about. I want to hear because being one of the fastest growing positions, it's interesting to me how people came into their positions and their roles and why they feel like there's value and it's important. So tell us your kind of journey into this position. 

Don Harvey: Yeah, I'd be glad to Leslie, thank you very much for that introduction. Is it at K force? I've been with them for 17 years. So in 17 years I've had a number of different roles. Most of them revolved around leading leaders, setting up offices, growing offices that were, you know, needed some support managing large accounts logged going by, right Evan teams, the people that did that. And just 17 years of business development and leadership. So the COO of K force is a friend of mine. And in the middle of the pandemic, George Floyd was assassinated and she called me up and said, Don, we've really got to get a feel for how this firm's doing emotionally.

Don Harvey: We got to get some idea about how our people are handling all this. So we arrange, we have a couple of thousand employees, so we arranged town halls and the town halls because it's the 70 to 80, sometimes a hundred people, each one of the calls and it was a five minute intro from us. And then the whole idea was, tell me about you, right?

Don Harvey: How are you doing? How's everything going? And somebody's outpouring that came from that was unbelievable. I mean, people tended to in front of a hundred people share their feelings, serious thoughts, and shared discomfort. There were tears. It was. All kinds of things that came from that. And we did that for a couple of weeks.

Don Harvey: We went around the country to our west Western or Midwestern Eastern locations, and some of the smaller operations we have like about 50 offices around the country. And we did it with all of them. And then we did our major accounts teams too. And so at the end of that, my name.

Don Harvey: Kyle reaches out to me. She says, I know what you've been doing for 17 years, but you know, these people in this firm, you know them well, you've worked with most of them. Would you be willing to step out of the role you're in, which is more leadership and business development and growing some of our enterprises and take over as senior vice president of DE&I.

Don Harvey: And I realized, you know, nothing about DE&I and I jumped at the opportunity. The reason is the human factor was unbelievable. I mean, Kforce is a good firm, you know, we've never, firm's got its issues, but it's a good firm, right? People care about each other, a big, it's not big, it's a mid-sized firm.

Don Harvey: And we see ourselves as a family and that kind of thing, but there's always things to fix and get right. And so my mindset was as we go about diversifying our firm, if that's our initial direction and can improve on the culture, Inside K force. Our people go home. They've got friends, they've got relatives, they've got family members.

Don Harvey: And as they go home, perhaps they bring home to their friends and family. Some of the things they're learning about being a better person that came for us. So from a large perspective, it was to get after the firm and let's make this thing contagious. 

Leslie Vickrey: Oh, well, I look forward to hearing more about your journey and some of the things K force is doing.

Leslie Vickrey: I mean, what a great example. Just getting the roll in place and putting it there. And it, again, it's one of the fastest growing roles that we've ever seen in any industry across the board before it was the CEO, CIO CTO. I know the chief digital officer now it's, you know, the head of DE&I, Sunny, it can be overwhelming for people sometimes when they're thinking about just launching a DE&I program and tell us a little bit, just as far as a step one, step two, step three.

Leslie Vickrey: I know we're going to get into way more details and specifics, but at a high level, just simply getting buy-in and getting started to see that impact. What are some of your thoughts on the topic?

Leslie Vickrey: Yeah, thank 

Sunny Ackerman: You, Leslie. And hi everyone. Sunny Ackeman, Sthree America's president and done great story. I think we, as well, last year we had a global head of DE&I that sits in our London office.

Sunny Ackerman: We had a woman named Don fry who was leading our DE&I strategy, but still working in her HR role. And I came into the organization in March of last year and said, we need our own full-time Head of DE&I, and a structure around that to really support what we're doing in the business. And Don now is in the role as head of DE&I for our organization in the Americas.

Sunny Ackerman: But I think Leslie, like anything it's before you began as a few considerations, I would say to keep in mind, it's a journey. I mean, designing your strategy. Is the first step. And that's what I think Don and I started working through last year and the organization that even previous to me joining was working through.

Sunny Ackerman: And it's a part of our strategy and a part of our culture as a business. But it does require some time and energy. And I think you, you need to determine what your strategy will entail. Keep that in mind, but also know it's a marathon, not a sprint. I think you need to be, you know, it's a journey and don't be discouraged along the way, but there are small steps that you can take within the business to start to make an impact.

Sunny Ackerman: Don't go it alone, recommend that you bring in the development. You are bringing others into the development of this. And so I think that the powerful thing at Sthree is that, you know, right during the pandemic, we started creating some kind of employment resource groups. And these were homegrown from the business. They were the business saying, Hey, we needed teams and groups to come together to really talk about common interests.

Sunny Ackerman: And so don't go to loan, bring others into the discussion and be a part of the strategy and really listen to your workforce around it. You know, ultimately there's not just one person responsible for DE&I strategy formation, but it's getting input from others. Specifically CEO and C-suite is a really important thing.

Sunny Ackerman: As Don said, you know, the leaders in the organization and really taking a. Taking a stance and saying, this is going to be a part of who we are as an organization. And then lastly, I would say involve your CEO or your president or your leader in your particular function or business. I mean, I think throughout the entire process, by consistently engaging C-suite CEO, you'll be able to provide early insight and feedback that will help you keep the strategy moving forward.

Sunny Ackerman: And additionally that your CEO or presidents can help promote and champion DE&I strategy to other stakeholders. And the organization at large. And so those are just some things I would think foundationally to keep in mind when you get started, that are really important, but just start. 

Leslie Vickrey: So thank you.

Leslie Vickrey: And I want it sometimes I've been talking about it and I think I even asked it in the question when you. Say things like a program or initiative, it makes it sound like it has a start and an end where it really is an imperative to the business and it's an ongoing function. So even by changing some of the nomenclature of the way we talk about it can help make a difference down the road.

Leslie Vickrey: So I know Sunny, when we were prepping, we were even talking about, if you pull someone in a part-time capacity and they're doing something else full time, and oftentimes that's how your G groups are run, then that's not really sending the message to the company that you want to send. So having that kind of C-suite buy-in is really critical because you've got to put some money behind it to make that investment, to make that happen.

Leslie Vickrey: Korryn, I know you all are doing some really fantastic things that Insight Global and I look forward to learning more about some of the programs you're doing even on behalf of clients in a bit. But tell me a little bit, are there any of your own programs or resources or tools or training pieces that you all have incorporated that you just can't imagine ever doing again without, or just can't live without day-to-day in your role?

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, definitely. I think there's a ton of resources available. And as this becomes more front of mind for people, I feel like there's new information that's released every day. And I tell people this all the time, but. Being in the DE&I field is fun because you're always going to be learning, but that's also the challenge to it.

Korryn Williamson: So anyone who says they have a hundred percent habit figured out, I hate to break it to you, but they're not telling the truth because this is a journey that we have to learn together. And I think about it when I started my journey. A report that was really helpful for me was a study done by McKinsey and company. It's a five-part study, starting with why diversity matters and it's over the span of the last six or seven years now.

Korryn Williamson: And there's three reports that I think have a lot of great insights into why this is important. And when a study was mentioning the importance of having leadership, buy-in, that's where you can really grab that knowledge, that education to be able to. Leverage those discussions with leadership to get a budget and to make sure that you are integrating DE&I with your strategy.

Korryn Williamson: And we took a position at Insight Global where it is our job, not to just educate ourselves internally, but as a staffing company. We also want to make sure that we're advocating for our candidates, that we're talking to our clients and hiring managers, procurement teams that we're working with.

Korryn Williamson: And so the biggest shift for us that's changed over the last two years is us being able to provide resources to our clients who are looking to have more equitable and inclusive workforces. So we actually help our clients look at, you know, what types of candidates are being submitted, what types of candidates are being interviewed and what types of candidates are being hired and kind of using that as a data point to look back and say, Okay, where are inequities happening?

Korryn Williamson: So I think, you know, we definitely have a lot of training resources, experiences available, but there's also just a lot of resources for free as well. When we started this journey doing things like this that are available on LinkedIn different, you know, LinkedIn learning courses that come up masterclasses.

Korryn Williamson: So I think the opportunities are endless, but being able to really identify what the needs of your people are is a good point to start at. So, seeing, you where your current organization stands, the things that they want to see, the things that they want training on, because I know a lot of people are hungry for it, but it's about defining, you know, what they're actually looking for and making it tangible for them to integrate DE&I into their goals and not think of it as a separate initiative or program. Like you mentioned earlier. 

Leslie Vickrey: Oh, good. Well, if you happen to have a link to those studies handy, feel free to drop them in the chat. I'm sure some people would appreciate that, or you're just got to, you gotta connect with Korryn and she'll get those over to you. Via LinkedIn or whatnot. One, I'm going to drop in there as the CEO.

Leslie Vickrey: And I know, again, Sunny, you're really active in this and I would encourage any CEO to take a look at this and actually sign the pledge and commitment that goes along with it. But there's so many resources and tools that you can take advantage of. There's no excuse not to have a, you know, not to have what you need because there's plenty of resources there.

Leslie Vickrey: Ross, what do you think when you just think back to the beginnings of DE&I, and where things are evolving, what do you believe has changed permanently going forward when it comes to DE&I. 

Ross Cadastre: You know, it's very interesting because I'm really inspired by my Don story there. If we were to think back to the George Floyd murder and you know, north America, corporate north America will cop.

Ross Cadastre: And for the first time, you know, started taking DE&I seriously. And, you know, whether it be people of color, women, persons with disabilities black, you know, that's why I believe this round of change really began in this space. And I believe now there's no turning back. I believe, now, that incident created a watershed moment to cause us to kind of reflect and change as corporate North America.

Ross Cadastre: You know, when I look, when I think about our industry, we are in a unique position to impact corporate culture in any organization. You know, when we think of the people that we interact with middle management, they do most of the hiring and that's where our relationship intersects. We have an opportunity, or I would even say an obligation to educate hiring managers about the importance of the DE&I in my experience you know, companies have recognized the value of a diverse workforce and realizing in some cases that they're more profitable because of it and how a diverse workforce brings ideas to the table, new ideas and different ways of doing things that help organizations grow, I believe the conversation is happening.

Ross Cadastre: It's an ever-changing conversation. And I think It enables us to kind of keep on top of the dialogue and keep the whole DE&I top of mind and on the agenda of our clients. 

Leslie Vickrey: Thank you. And we're going to touch on that here in a second. And I agree it has permanently changed. I remember listening to a speaker during a women's business collaborative event and pretty well-known CEO, and he was talking about how it was right after George Floyd's murder and he basically said, you have.

Leslie Vickrey: We have weeks right now to make an impact before someone, before the world moves on to whatever is next and whatever comes up. And I just kept thinking that that can't be possible. When you look back in history and time, it actually is possible. It happens. We were going back and through, looking at the me too movement and like, wow, really?

Leslie Vickrey: It came out hot and heavy. Then what happened to this? You know, is it still out there what's happening? So having programs like this and keeping the conversations going means that we have to keep moving forward with it, to make sure that there's change. And of course, like Ross, we were talking about before.

Leslie Vickrey: If we can get middle management and hiring managers and everyone on board, you know, maybe to this question here in the feed maybe we don't need as many panels on this because it starts at the foundation and the DNA of the company. But until it is at the core of a company and a core of our world and our nation it's going to be a topic that won't go away.

Leslie Vickrey: We're 136 years. I believe it is from reaching a quality, according to the world economic forum, that's the way generations passed us, passed my five-year-old son, passed his great grandchildren. We have a long way to go. So I think that light may not be shifting anytime soon. So you mentioned Ross, specifically something about our industry and Sunny. I'm going to ask you this question first, having grown up in the staffing industry too. You know, we're an industry of speed to fill the number of candidates submitted and placement. And how can we both really achieve metrics and goals while ensuring candidates are placed in the right environments and clients are really achieving their diversity hiring goals.

Leslie Vickrey: So we're doing justice to our own staff, the consultants and the people who entrust us with their careers and our clients, while still being able to be successful in that. 

Sunny Ackerman: Yeah, it's a great question, Leslie. I, you know, I think one of the things that we're addressing at Sthree it's in it's one of our strategic targets and our ESG strategy is we've actually put a commitment to positively impact over 200,000 people in the next three years.

Sunny Ackerman: And one of the areas that we are a couple areas, we're doing that right now with our clients and within the community is that we built kind of what we call a stem equity coalition. And it's really focused on driving, addressing some of the challenges that we have in stem inequality, which we know there's, it's prevalent within stem, technology, engineering, and math, and then, you know, really across multiple sectors, you know, through community driven partnerships and by dialing in those partnerships, we're giving access to resources, expertise across our candidate pipeline that we have, and we collaborate with this coalition that has like-minded companies and organizations that want to make stem sector more diverse and inclusive. So that's one of the things that we're doing within the organization.

Sunny Ackerman: The other one that was started a few years ago is that we wanted to provide more opportunities to insight for women in tech and women in stem. And we have an organization called Breaking The Glass where we provide opportunities for women in stem, by partnering with other stem companies or stem communities.

Sunny Ackerman: And we provide free personalized programming on DE&I women's career development topics and partners in the past have included companies like Dell and IBM and Twitter is some pretty big organizations that have been working with us around these different topics and initiatives. And I think it's really important that as we are at the forefront of it being that we, you know, we work with companies where, with talent, you know, that we're really leading by example in that.

Sunny Ackerman: And some of the work that we're doing is, you know, within our own organizations is really powerful. 

Leslie Vickrey: Thank you Sunny. It's definitely a great program in a way to lead by example, with the different training and initiatives you have in Ross. I know you had some thoughts on this specifically too, as it relates to our industry and the way we measure our work and so forth.

Leslie Vickrey: Tell us how you handle that within your company and in the world. 

Ross Cadastre: Yes. You know, sunny. Great. I love what you said about the partnerships. That's a great one. When I look at our recruitment process, how we recruit as an industry are two aspects of it, right? There's a proactive recruitment. And there was also reactive recruitment and usually a lot of the numbers and all our metrics around that, the reactive recruitment proactive as having the conversations before there's an opportunity.

Ross Cadastre: Reactive is the client now has an opportunity we need to go and fill that opportunity. I really believe that there's a place for that diversity finding that diversity and tracking diversity candidates at the beginning of the pipeline where you're being proactive and having those conversations.

Ross Cadastre: So it doesn't affect as much your speed and your time for delivery. So I think proactivity is one of the solutions that you can employ if we can assist in really, truly helping our client. Achieve that DE&I goals then that DE&I metric will be part of the numb, you know, the way I look at it is, you know, we're entering a new era of hiring and we call it the DE&I era.

Leslie Vickrey: Yeah, I agree. And you know, we talk about pipelining talent and just not having time to do it, but to your point, even if you were to break down and know how many rolls you needed to hire, or look back at the historical data and really plan for it in a unique way, it can really help solve to that challenge and issue.

Leslie Vickrey: So Kerryn and Don, I want to ask you each the next question, because I know as companies, you all have actually put in place programs that will help even your clients with their diversity hiring initiatives. So can you maybe share a Korryn, we'll start with you, how your DE&I group really helps companies you work with as it relates to their diversity hiring initiatives.

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, 100%. And Don, I think I have a really similar story to you. I started out at Insight Global in a sales position as well. And I really started to think about my day-to-day role, how we could affect change. And I started to think about how I even ended up at insight global as a whole.

Korryn Williamson: I don't have many family members that exist in corporate America. But my dad, he, you know, doesn't have a college degree. He started out on a true level. IT Help desk support eventually got into network engineering and then cloud architecture. And so, as a kid, I was exposed to all these really cool companies.

Korryn Williamson: He worked at Dell, he worked at SAP poly-com and those were also some of our clients that we had at Insight Global. And so I started to think about when I have positions sometimes. My clients would just text me. I had these positions that like no one in the world knew were open except Korryn Williamson.

Korryn Williamson: And so I was like, how do I put your access and other people's hands to be able to get them positioned. So, we actually partnered first with an organization called Year Up. They were right across the street from our office and their workforce development organization. And so instead of again, just thinking of a one-on-one basis, how can we really multiply and make this a bigger program and really make sure that we can advocate for candidates who didn't have that traditional background, but still had a lot of offer.

Korryn Williamson: So sometimes, you know, managers put on a college degree when the specific role doesn't require a college degree. And so we kind of started with these like little fires everywhere. You know, we're getting people jobs over here. We got a veteran, a job over here. And so that really morphed into me becoming into this role full time and making sure that we're streaming live.

Korryn Williamson: As a process. And so our programs and our training that we provide to our clients are centered all around the talent life cycle from no hiring. What types of candidates were even applying to your role? 

Korryn Williamson: We know that research tells us women typically don't apply for roles unless they feel like they're a hundred percent qualified as men.

Korryn Williamson: They may apply when they're 60% qualified to the interview process. Are we asking everyone the same interview questions? Do we know exactly what we're looking for in this candidate? I think my job description would have changed probably like five times in the last six months. So are your descriptions actually up to date with the responsibilities and then from there, just making sure that you have the infrastructure to support the growth of those you know, candidates coming from those non-traditional backgrounds.

Korryn Williamson: So for us, it's all about making sure that yes, we get their foot in the door, but once they're there, you know, who do they feel like they have a seat at the table, do they feel. You know, they're a diversity hire or do they truly understand that they were hired for their skill and their experience? So for us, it's all about really having uncomfortable conversations, but really being able to denote cancel culture, creating that warm environment, where people aren't afraid to say the wrong things, because, you know, if you're thinking it, someone else's off.

Korryn Williamson: So, I think because coming in and really being able to take an uncomfortable, full conversation and have an experience where again, we're really just learning from each other. I also realized, again, I have a lot to learn too, because I only understand the world through the lens of able-bodied black women.

Korryn Williamson: So I really am able to also advocate for people, even if you are a member of the diverse community. And that's what we really do, try to do a good job of is leveraging our relationships to call each other out, ask our clients to hold us accountable as we also hold them accountable. So our services are really centered around staffing, making sure we provide diverse talent, and then also making sure that we give them that infrastructure to support the program.

Leslie Vickrey: Korryn and you're getting a lot of love in the chat here is especially on the year upfront for sure, such a wonderful program and good partners. So, I definitely agree with you in that approach. And thank you for sharing just in case anyone didn't check the chat. The Mackenzie white papers really appreciate that.

Leslie Vickrey: Don, tell us a little bit about you and K force and the way you are also supporting clients with their diversity hiring initiatives. 

Don Harvey: Yeah. Our story is somewhat similar to what I'm hearing here. We. I have access to all of these websites that focus more on women in technology, websites that focus more on the LGBTQ plus population blacks, Rednecks what have you, in addition to the major websites that we use for recruiting all the time, and we have the Kforce database as well.

Don Harvey: So what we tend to do is recruit for our customers by skillset, but in that broad brush we call the no stone, don't turn the approach in that broad brush of access to all these websites. We are coming up with a diverse town. So we're recruiting by skillset. We're also coming up with diverse talents. One of our aggregators as we call it we placed 123 people from them.

Don Harvey: Another one, which is a smaller minority owned operation, we placed about four or five people from that even done some from placements through them, and all the candidates are diverse candidates, but still is you probably all know this. There are clients that have asked us to be very specific in our delivery profile.

Don Harvey: We need people that look like this. We want to poke five of these guys. Six of them. And so our approach to that is not that approach. It is a skillset approach and we cast a wide net and it's working. 

Leslie Vickrey: Yeah. We talked about that when we were prepping for this, that, you know, really focusing on the best tire, but having to make sure you look in other places to make sure you're bringing a diverse slate to the table.

Leslie Vickrey: Within our own industry, we don't have that much diversity. I think one of the latest studies that I was actually a part of with the women business collaborative and just about every association in our industry, it was in the C-suite. 4% women of color. So, you know, oftentimes you have to look elsewhere and outside of the industries you serve.

Leslie Vickrey: So to your point, multiple job boards, different partners, different groups and organizations who you can turn to. So what, let's switch gears a little bit now and talk a little bit about what you do and not what you say you'll do. So, you know, if anyone's been on a panel with me or participated in one attended, you know, we have to talk about action and really hope that those of you here today will walk away with a piece of advice or an insight that perhaps you didn't have, or a resource or a tool that wasn't shared in that you can put into specific actions.

Leslie Vickrey: When you think about it today, the social contract between employee and employer has really changed. So employees, both current and future, want more than just a paycheck. They want belonging and they want purpose and millennials and gen Z, as in particular, they took this moment to set new ground rules for themselves about where they want to spend their time, their energy and their money and the consumer side of it.

Leslie Vickrey: They really make up most of the racially and ethnically diverse adult population in US history. According to some of the latest census numbers, they want to work for companies that hold their same values. And it starts with accountability. So many say the first step to accountability is cultivating that open mind, really turning off autopilot, challenging, unconscious bias and deeper questions or asking so many questions, really deep questions about how and why we're doing things as companies, not thinking about DE&I as a one-off separate strategy or living with, as you all mentioned, just within HR, it's really embedding it into the workplace and the whole company culture.

Leslie Vickrey: And that really just doesn't happen overnight. So how can we expect it to be different if we don't do anything different? So, Sunny, I'm going to ask you this first question and this part, I read an entrepreneur article recently that stated it's by examining whether actions truly meet intentions, that we can disrupt the inertia of our flawed, familiar and rushed ways.

Leslie Vickrey: So what are some of the new ways of thinking and our approaches that your organization or you have held everyone accountable that has resulted in real change. 

Sunny Ackerman: I look at touch upon a point that Korryn made. I think it was a really valuable one, I think, as we're making time for DE&I, you know, it, when it's part of our strategy, it's embedded in everything we do.

Sunny Ackerman: And I think to Green's point, I think we're seeing a shift in culture. We're actually talking about it previously, a lot of companies, you know, approach the topic through recognition programs, employment resource groups or charitable giving, which is all really great. But seldom have I seen a shift in culture that invites people to openly talk about their lived experiences and be vulnerable.

Sunny Ackerman: And I think that's been a really powerful step that we've even taken to our organization, you know, having a candid culture where, you know, we're talking and admitting that there is opportunity to do better as an organization. And I think we've had that with our own people within our business and taking feedback around it.

Sunny Ackerman: And, you know, as an organization, some of the things that we've done. You know, in the past year and a half and making some strides, I think we, within one year we introduced six different employment resource groups. We focused on conducting DE&I focus groups across the various business, various levels in the business to really get feedback from the business and the organization in terms of what they wanted to see more of.

Sunny Ackerman: We led executive leadership bias training to educate all of our leaders globally on how to identify and prevent, you know, bias behaviors. And when we do calling it out and being open and honest with each other around it, cause again, it's having those candid conversations I think is a really important part of this.

Sunny Ackerman: And we just delivered also our global DE&I policy and I really do policy. I feel policy lots of times influences systemic change and you know, it's a demonstration of our commitment to ourselves, but also to our clients and our candidates and the suppliers that we also work with that our stance towards DE&I.

Sunny Ackerman: So those are some things I think that our organization has done leaders in our business have done to really hold ourselves accountable to this.

Leslie Vickrey: You mentioned the DE&I policy, I'd be curious, just in the comments, how many people actually have a DE&I policy that could be something interesting for a future conversation Sunny, maybe a special podcast episode we'll do together just to talk, but again, it's that accountability and you're right.

Leslie Vickrey: Oftentimes when you put it in writing and you have to sign it as part of employment agreements, whatever it is, people start to take a little bit more notice on that. Ross, I'm going to ask you the next couple of questions that are a little bit different than some of the questions we've asked during these panels, because oftentimes, and I literally, I was just mentoring someone who.

Leslie Vickrey: As new to a DE&I role and, you know, having to talk about some of the difficult conversations that she's having. So some of it is getting that executive, buy-in, getting the budget and so forth, but also some of it is having tough conversations with people who maybe don't want to implement some of the action because they personally feel like they're being attacked.

Leslie Vickrey: So what are maybe when you think of the implementing action? Ross, what are some of the common,

Leslie Vickrey: oh, I think Leslie maybe froze up. 

Sunny Ackerman: Oh, you're back, Leslie. Sorry. I'm sorry. 

Leslie Vickrey: All right, Ross, I'm gonna repeat the question. What are some common pitfalls you've seen organizations struggle with as they implement action? And what are some of the tips that you have to combat those challenges? 

Ross Cadastre: You know, a great question and I'll take it from a holistic way.

Ross Cadastre: You my thought is that, you know, there's really a difference between saying we care about diversity and meaning it, and setting up programs and accountabilities to make it happen. And then making it happen, you know, there needs to be budgets provided for the strategy and the implementation of that strategy.

Ross Cadastre: I think somebody mentioned part-time versus full-time on the team. And then once that's in place, the organization must say that they care and mean that the dialogue must be ongoing. And I think that's one of the biggest challenges because it just, it seems in most organizations seems to end with HR or the board or the C-suite, but it has to be throughout the organization because as you know, what gets talked about gets done in a perfect world employees will not be hired, so they will not be hired.

Ross Cadastre: Whether they one by on the black, indigenous, red necks because they are over the from a diverse community, but it be hired because they add value. And I think this is some of the things that organizations need to kind of look at from that standpoint.

Ross Cadastre: And I think that is the shift that must occur and in a perfect world, I think these are some of the things that, that if happens, it creates a better DE&I strategy and a workforce that is inclusive. 

Leslie Vickrey: Thank you, Don. And Chris I'm sorry, cross and thank you, Chris, in the comments for your. Comment again, I encourage you everyone in shabaneh.

Leslie Vickrey: Thank you. You are a thousand percent, right? Definitely will need more than just policy and procedures. And again, that's why I love all of the initiatives that the companies are putting in place along with that, which is great to see those kinds of strides. So Ross, thank you for your answer and how to overcome that.

Leslie Vickrey: And I'm going to switch now to Don and Korryn, you know, have you personally, because listen, you all are newish to your roles and you know, you may get some pushback back a little bit. And even though you've had the C-suite support it could be other people. So have you ever felt like it was being challenged?

Leslie Vickrey: So it could be talks of budget or staff cuts or not feeling like it's properly funded to really make a difference. And or you could have heard of other stories where this happened to other people and maybe not you, but maybe for some, you know, feedback for those here. Are struggling with that. How do you overcome that?

Leslie Vickrey: How do you get that seat at the table with this important topic? If you show that Don, do you want to.

Don Harvey: Sure. I can jump into that. I saw that question, Leslie. We are experienced in the direct opposite. Kforce is committed to DE&I, financially and emotionally. So we get tons of support and we move forward with Gusto on that we've been in this program for one year, I've had this role for a year and a year.

Don Harvey: I think we've accomplished some things. From a client perspective, we do have, we have a lot of client conversations and we see the same thing there. Right? As something you mentioned earlier, Leslie, about middle management. It will be in a place that could use the most help from a DE&I perspective. We see that in all of our customers, so we hear more and more about a commitment to DE&I versus backing away from it.

Don Harvey: And there's some firms that do not have very much commitment to DE&I, but they want to hear about what we're doing. So I haven't seen that budget cut thing come through. 

Leslie Vickrey: I think it's interesting, Don, the conversation I was having with someone else it felt very, and Shabana, this is to your point like cultural, like it wasn't quite yet at the culture core of the company and even at the C-suite, perhaps that needed to still change and happen. So Korryn, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this. Again, being new to your role. It may not happen to you here, but, and. Places, have you heard of this happening and how do you combat it or in your head?

Leslie Vickrey: Maybe you've got something planned if it were to happen. 

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, definitely. And I feel like anyone who's in this position, I could just imagine. It's definitely frustrating. I feel like you might feel isolated or you know, feel like you're on an island. I think that's exactly why. Inclusion is so important and why that comes into play.

Korryn Williamson: I think a lot of the time when people feel hesitant towards DE&I are, I don't see the importance it's because they feel excluded. They don't see how DE&I is also a value to them because it's going to help them reach their goals. So I think it's all around. Like clearance, simple messaging, and just making sure that you have the same goal.

Korryn Williamson: So really being able to sit down with their leader, with your leaders and say, okay, what is your goal? Like, how can we achieve this together? Because you do have to have that personal buy-in, you do have to have that personal why. And I think this more than any other goal of an organization, like you can't fake the funk, you really have to be bought in on this.

Korryn Williamson: Your people have to hear it from leadership as well in order to stay. And if not, people are actually leaving companies. So I think hopefully when challenging leadership really being able to stress that sense of urgency, that's felt being able to back up with research similar to you told, Don, I think I've had the opposite experience.

Korryn Williamson: But being able to really have that buy-in from my leadership and even small things like having an office directly across from our CEO. Those things always send messages to the company who your leaders report into, who is in the role full time. Do they have a team? So I think everything that we do sends messages.

Korryn Williamson: So just making sure your messages are aligned with your actions. But if you aren't getting that, buy-in from your leadership, just being able to really level up. Come to an understanding and then create goals and shared goals together. 

Leslie Vickrey: And to your point, Korryn with the retention piece, people are leaving and they're also not coming in, or we've talked a little bit in the past about what's called diversity theater, where maybe to the public or in your recruiting process.

Leslie Vickrey: You're talking about all of these wonderful things you're doing as a company, but then the second someone steps foot inside the company, they can already see leadership isn't bought into any of the letters of DE&I, and they are, you know, treating people in poorly poor work environments and unfair work environment.

Leslie Vickrey: And unfortunately that then results in retention issues, turnover issues, you know, bad reviews like it the cost of it is so much greater than taking the time to invest in it. But again, the culture piece is so critical. It has to fit within it. And, you know, we may see sometimes in leadership versus those coming in, there could be a big gap there.

Leslie Vickrey: Then it's not the right company for you to be up. And one of the things I love about deliver, Wesley who's in our industry, she always talks about creating a seat at the table. So while middle management may start to feel threatened as if they're going to, you know, what about me? Am I going to get promoted?

Leslie Vickrey: If they happen to not be in a, you in a minority or underrepresented person, they may feel threatened by it. And through that education and training and understanding, they'll see that it's really that diversity of thought that makes such a huge difference. And if you could just think of it as not taking a seat away, but really adding a seat to the table, it can really make a big difference.

Leslie Vickrey: So, okay. Without you all would have been fantastic. Thank you so much. We have about 15 minutes left. Feel free to take a look at the chat here and add some questions, answers to some of these. It's really easy here to do these thoughts on DE&I or D E I N A or other. But for now, I'm going to start a little rapid fire round with you all.

Leslie Vickrey: If you don't mind, are you. So some quick questions, I'm going to ask you each. I don't see any questions in the Q/A, I'm trying to keep up with the chat. Hopefully we've got everyone covered here and thank you so much, everyone for your commentary. Okay. So are you more hopeful for racial equality than you were a year ago?

Leslie Vickrey: Sunny, Let's start with you. 

Sunny Ackerman: I absolutely, but there is still work to be done.

Leslie Vickrey: Don? 

Don Harvey: No. 

Leslie Vickrey: Tell us why? 

Don Harvey: I think we've been battling this for so long. I do see, I love the conversations we're having. That's brand spanking new that people are so open to discuss, but progress is slow. 

Leslie Vickrey: We've got to keep the conversation going and keep biased for African and change for sure. Korryn. 

Korryn Williamson: Yeah. I say I still have hope because being hopeless is one of the worst things that you wouldn't be in my opinion.

Korryn Williamson: But I do think it's important to notice that we do have a long way to go. I think I recently saw something about some quotes from MLK that aren't as common. And people were astonished to know that he said those things. So I think just being able to push boundaries is really important.

Leslie Vickrey: I think so, too. All right. It looks like we may have lost Ross, although I think he's trying to get back in here. Okay. What do we need to do to continually remind ourselves to be inclusive?

Sunny Ackerman: You want to start at the same order? Okay. I think first things first, if you want your workplace to be inclusive, you need to lead by example.

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, I'll go. I think for this, it's really important to stay humble and then always wanting to learn and stay curious about others. 

Don Harvey: Yeah. I agree with both of those media inclusive components as a cultural issue and there's great benefits to being inclusive, even from a corporate performance perspective.

Don Harvey: So yeah, to get that takes some work, but it's a real major effort to do it. 

Leslie Vickrey: Right. We have a question here. And the chat I'm going to bring up because literally we were just talking about this today, actually Sunny. I am wondering about the aspect of neurodiversity in an organization with respect to DE&I, anyone want to take that?

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, I'll take that. I think it's really important to recognize neurodiversity. It's the biggest, most overlooked element of diversity. So, like I mentioned earlier, being an able-bodied woman, I think it's also my job to advocate for others in that demographic as well. Yeah. 

Sunny Ackerman: Yeah. I would agree with Karen.

Sunny Ackerman: I think it's a prevalent and prevalent one that we need to be looking at. And I think it's now, now, creating more awareness around it now and sort of with that first more discussion. So I'm hopeful again, that this will start to really be a topic of, you know, you know, accessing different types of people that have different types of backgrounds.

Sunny Ackerman: And so neurodiversity is definitely one that we need to be looking at, I think broadly across the organization. 

Don Harvey: Yeah, I agree with sunny and Korryn, both of those points are very well taken. 

Leslie Vickrey: Very good. Well, thank you for the question. Okay. I'm going to ask one more question here. If you were to look into your crystal ball, what DE&I tech platforms do you see on the horizon or even ones not widely available now that will serve a great need in the marketplace.

Sunny Ackerman: I think this is such an exciting space. There's so many interesting things happening in this. The one I heard about last week, which I thought was fascinating, is called gender decoder, and it checks job listings for gender coded language. So companies that are things that are kind of sometimes more male slanted, like phrases like fearless or independent or self-sufficient.

Sunny Ackerman: And that was one of like a listing of different kinds of platforms that were available in the market. So I think there's a lot of really great movement in technology happening in that space. Companies with DNI, sorry. That's a long answer, but I was just super excited about that one. 

Leslie Vickrey: So feel free in the chat.

Leslie Vickrey: Anyone, if you want to drop some of the technologies that you all are using or have heard of, it'd be fantastic. All right. Korryn, how about you? 

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, I would say technology that tracks bias and machine learning algorithms. I think it's really important. I think we've all heard about you know, the Google catastrophes when you Google, you know, black teenager versus white teenager, what comes up.

Korryn Williamson: And then when that integrates into staffing, like how our ATS is function, VMS is function. So I think for us really being able to make sure that we are cognizant of bias, that lies in machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence. 

Leslie Vickrey: Don, any thoughts on this one? 

Don Harvey: The technology perspective, I think, is a good one.

Don Harvey: I just believe that what will make us a better place is human to human technology has a place, but the human to human concern for each other is the thing. 

Leslie Vickrey: I appreciate that perspective. A hundred percent it starts with us, right? 

Don Harvey: Yes, it does, we are all in this together. 

Leslie Vickrey: All right. So a question we had here which is a great question.

Leslie Vickrey: This comes up all the time. What are the top KPIs that demonstrate progress in an organization regarding DE&I KPIs that demonstrate progress. Anyone wants to take it. 

Korryn Williamson: Yeah, I can take that. So since they mentioned the top ones, I'll do three that I think are really important to us. So, hiring promotion and turnover.

Korryn Williamson: So I think me personally, not a fan of like a quota necessarily, but again, really looking at the data to see where inequities are happening and getting specific you know, for Insight Global, we have 60% of women in leadership, which I think really accredited to my success. But that doesn't mean that we don't need a merch on other areas like veteran status, neurodiversity, racial, or ethnic diversity.

Korryn Williamson: So I think really using the data to get specific and say, okay, who's being hired, who's being promoted. And then what are candidates doing? Or why are people leaving? What types of people are leaving? I think those are really good measurements to start with and then I think a more advanced level is measuring the current culture of your organization and how people from different demographics experience your company.

Korryn Williamson: I always use this analogy of a hotel. If you had the view of the ocean and I maybe have the view of the parking lot, same hotel, but. Totally different reviews on Expedia. So really being able to take that false and see what kind of use your employees are getting in your organization, 

Leslie Vickrey: Just to mention a technology tool on that front clearly has a great tool that you can use to help measure the employee sentiment.

Leslie Vickrey: It is important to also match that to the facts and data from an HR perspective. So you can look at things like just how people are feeling. Do they feel welcome? Do they feel like they're included and do they feel like they're paid fairly? Do you know all of those feeling kinds of things, and then comparing that to data can be a great starting point and foundation for that.

Leslie Vickrey: Okay. I ha we've got a lot of questions. This is great. Have you noticed a decrease of unconscious bias since 2020 Don or Sunny? Does anyone else want to take that one? 

Sunny Ackerman: A decrease in unconscious bias? I would say not necessarily, no. I mean, I think in terms of what we're seeing in the marketplace now I'm not seeing that necessarily.

Sunny Ackerman: I don't know if Don has a different perspective on it.

Don Harvey: Yeah. I would agree with Sunny to some degree, but it's tough to measure. Right. We had unconscious bias trends, probably like everybody else did and emotional intelligence training as well. And then the measuring stick to see if it worked. So is retention improving because of that?

Don Harvey: Are people speaking up more, you know, again, we're a year into this. We do have a couple of years of a DE&I program before, but it picked up intensity at the George Floyd. So we got to measure it. We just don't have the measuring stick yet. 

Leslie Vickrey: Yeah, I would say even if it hasn't improved, the awareness I think has improved.

Leslie Vickrey: So people are talking about it more, it's being covered more. And even as an individual, your own awareness of it, of things that you may be doing, I think has improved, but I don't know that it's changed anything yet, but the awareness needs to be there for sure. 

Sunny Ackerman: Leslie, I think you're spot on the introspection.

Sunny Ackerman: I'm seeing around people just tending to setting time aside to understand that their own biases by taking a personal inventory of it. I think that's a really powerful one that I've seen. Good improvement around. 

Leslie Vickrey: So, yeah 

Korryn Williamson: To go off of that, I don't think we'll ever necessarily see a decrease in unconscious bias because it's unconscious and it's natural for all of us to experience that.

Korryn Williamson: But I think like you said, sending, recognizing this is what this is. When I go to, you know, my advisory team, my friends, my family, do they all think the same way? Do they all look the same? Do they all, are they all the same age? So I think there'll never be an actual decrease in unconscious bias occurring that there can be an increase in consciousness and decision-making 

Leslie Vickrey: I agree. 

Don Harvey: I'm sorry. Let's see a final thought about that. That the world is a different place today. The conversations people are having today are on, even on television and even just one-on-one are far different than they've been. Historically. We actually talk about race. We talk about gender.

Don Harvey: We talk about other things that are uncomfortable, which we have not done in the past. That is progress. 

Leslie Vickrey: So that is hoped on that's hope. All right, Ross, you have power again. 

Ross Cadastre: Wow. You know, I must tell you all, I am in the beautiful snowy Toronto, Canada, and we are having a snow storm right now. I don't know if that's what drove it, but I got caught out for a while.

Leslie Vickrey: Well, here you are. I'm going to throw a question at you and then we're going to do our wrap-up question. So, to put you on the spot and you know what you are certainly welcome to pass on if you'd like, but what are your views on the importance of authentic leadership for the implementation of a sense of belonging and inclusive culture in an organization that is in the chat as well?

Leslie Vickrey: If that helps. 

Ross Cadastre: Wow. That's a big one. I think You know, when it comes to inclusive and belonging in any organization or when it comes to anything that you want to drive through an organization, it starts with the leader and the leader has to be real as to say what they mean, and to also demonstrate and be that example through through, through, through that challenge.

Ross Cadastre: So when we look at where we are right now in the DE&I space across corporate North America, or even globally as leaders, we have to ensure that, now, we say what we mean, and we continue to kind of, carry the flag. You know, when I think of when I think of the ice space and I like, you know, leadership has to literally carry that flag from the top of the organization down to the bottom of the organization to ensure that message resonates because we're not only changing behavior, in some cases, our culture, in some cases, we're actually changing how people really feel internally about about a situation.

Ross Cadastre: And they could be totally misguided because of past experiences and past challenges. So hope that answers 

Leslie Vickrey: And you know, something that you said Ross, is that authentic in the leadership. If you lead with trust, You will be seen as authentic and your trust needs to be backed by action. So speaking of action, our last question for the day is, all right, here we go.

Leslie Vickrey: Okay. I have a favorite Maya Angelou quote, and it happens to be, do the best you can until, you know, better than when you know, better do better. We all know that there are issues within our own industry, as it relates to diversity in particular at the C-suite and board level. So panelists, what is one thing?

Leslie Vickrey: I know one thing is a tough one, but here everyone here today who have joined us several people, 45 people here right now, what is one thing they can do to impact change on the topic of making our industry more diverse, more equitable, and a more inclusive place. Sunny. I'm going to start with you. 

Sunny Ackerman: One thing my advice is to be open to change.

Leslie Vickrey: Don? 

Don Harvey: This may not answer the question, but as you select talent at the very beginning, make sure they are the best people you can find.

Leslie Vickrey: Korryn. 

Korryn Williamson: One of our team's values is to lift as you climb. So if you can really just help one person, if I can end this year of my career, just knowing I helped one person, I think that I made a great contribution. 

Leslie Vickrey: I heard a quote once of the angel on someone else's shoulder, kind of raising them up.

Leslie Vickrey: I love that. Ross? 

Ross Cadastre: You Know, in 1913 Mahatma Gandhi wrote something that became known as the change. Everyone in this conference must change and then change will happen. 

Leslie Vickrey: Where we go and the mic drops from there, Ross. Wow. Well, okay. You know what? Just start. We have to start and be the change. So thank you so much.

Leslie Vickrey: Sunny Don, Korryn, Ross for joining me here today and thank you to everyone who tuned in. I know we did not get to every single question. Feel free. We, I think most of us dropped our LinkedIn profiles and the chat. You should be able to find us either way. We're in the recruiting industry. Look us up ask us any questions and we are here for you, as Korryn said we're going to help you help one person at a time.

Leslie Vickrey: So thank you again, World Staffing Summit for hosting such an important topic and all of you for being here today. Thank you. 

Don Harvey: Thank you. Leslie 


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Leslie Vickrey

Sunny Ackerman

Don Harvey

Korryn Williamson

Ross Cadastre




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