Kelly Manthey, Group Chief Executive – Americas, Kin + Carta
It’s no secret that attracting and retaining talent has never been more competitive. take the technical industry: There is a shortage of workers, with startups springing up with big companies for the best software engineers, cloud experts, and automation gurus (just to name a few of the specialties needed to drive the industry). Combined by trends including the Great Resignation, the lack of available talent is an ever-present conundrum for businesses across the board.
So what can be done? Three key strategies are critical when it comes to attracting and retaining talent: creating a diverse and inclusive work environment; building a transparent and accountable management team; and creating a clear vision for the organization. Many website statements of intent – by design, sustainability and environment, society and governance (ESG) – testify to the need for this; in fact you would stand out if you didn’t profess some sort of corporate good ethos.
But while this may tick a few boxes, I believe that today’s workforce is looking for more than what they see as lip service. They want achievable, quantitative actions and, ultimately, verification that what is being done actually makes a difference.
Becoming a B Corp is one way companies take to prove that they have put their money and their integrity in the right place. These companies, including my organization, are committed to using the B Corp framework first as a catalyst for change and then as an ongoing improvement plan. Both are important in attracting and retaining talent. It’s something we’ve seen firsthand with our talent acquisition team reporting that the top reason new hires say they chose Kin + Carta is because of our work on corporate social responsibility, and B Corp in the special.
B Corps considers the impact on all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, society and the environment. It is a framework aimed at achieving an optimal balance of a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. This is a way to prove to aspiring talent that you care about what they care about – in deeds, not just words. It’s a way of showing that your values match theirs. Even if your organization is not a certified B Corp, the framework can kickstart the above three key strategies:
1. Create a diverse and inclusive work environment.
DEI initiatives should be a primary focus of management and HR teams in any organization; they are not only an important social issue, but also a core activity grow someone who makes something possible.
This means that employers must demonstrate to the rest of the workforce that DEI is an important asset of the company. This can be done by recognizing differences between employees and publicly encouraging ideas that differ from those of management, creating opportunities for people from underrepresented groups, and recognizing holidays and events that represent the entire workforce, not just a few dominant groups.
Formalizing this is essential, as there is a real risk of premature enthusiasm for initiatives that are quickly diluting. To really embed these values into the corporate culture, consider creating a DEI committee or hiring a diversity leader to manage the program. This leadership team will be able to create and develop a comprehensive plan that identifies ways to integrate DEI into the organization’s existing core value, mission, and KPIs.
2. Assemble a transparent and accountable senior management team.
Employees increasingly value transparency in their management team. A weak 2018 Future of Work study found that 80% of employees want to know how employers make decisions. However, the same survey found that 55% of leaders believe their organization is transparent, while only 18% of their employees agree.
If you look at this another way, 83% of employees in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2019 stated that their leadership maintained the same values that were expected of employees, making them more trustworthy, compared to only 42% of employees in average workplaces who trusted their leadership.
By fostering a workplace that values psychological safety and compassionate leaders at all levels, employees are encouraged to put their full selves to work, which becomes an inherent part of an organization’s DNA. I have found that this allows more risks to be taken, different points of view and innovative ideas to be born, without the fear of negative consequences.
3. Build a clear vision for the organization.
Talent is often attracted to organizations with a clearly defined mission and purpose. But that mission and purpose are not built into organizations. It takes work and asking yourself important questions as a leader: what are the core values that hold the organization together? Is there a goal that everyone can get around? What will the company look like in one, three and five years?
For me, the core vision is to use things as a force for good. Ultimately, it is not a race against competitors, but a race against society’s greatest challenges. By educating both stakeholders and employees by setting tangible goals and making these issues important to the company mission, they will have a share in the vision. Once management teams have created a strong vision, it will be easier to update in the future as the processes for incorporating employee feedback are already in place.
The talent shortage does not appear to be abating any time soon, and senior management teams have a duty to understand the changing dynamics of the talent market. And we have a duty to develop strategies that reflect that market. While it’s one way to become a B Corp, for those who don’t have the resources, there’s a lot to learn from how these companies behave when it comes to putting in the building blocks to create a more compelling organization – for both current employees and future talent.