Untapped Talent: Supporting the Force Multiplier
six key areas to focus on to retain high-performing talent
By the WOI+ Editorial Team
The world of work has shifted dramatically over the last three years, and it’s been made clear that we cannot rely on antiquated work systems. Offices are struggling to fill seats, employees are looking for more fulfillment at work, and equity and belonging can no longer take the form of mission statements, they must be actionable objectives for any business or organization.
The new world of work has cast a more sophisticated lens on the “untapped talent” at the centre of their thought leadership, specifically the “force multiplier” effect of ambitious, confident, innovative and highly educated women in business.
What is a force multiplier? In military terms, a force multiplier improves the ability of an entity to achieve its goals, to exceed expectations. It’s a bold notion, but the data backs up this analysis.
According to a recent study titled “Untapped Women of Color: The Talent Force Multiplier,” racialized women are force multipliers. However, despite company promises to do more, do better, or act faster when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion, the study found that women of colour are still overwhelmingly the “Onlys.”
According to the study, forty-six per cent of Black women said they are frequently — or always — the only person of their race in a professional setting. Among Latinx women, 41 per cent identified as “Onlys.” For Asian women, 42 per cent find themselves racially alone at work.
With increasing confidence and knowledge of their talent and trade, talent force multipliers are willing to leave businesses and organizations that do not nurture their growth, recognize their accomplishments, or show promise of career advancement.
So, what can organizations do? According to the study’s authors, there are 6 key actionable areas to focus on to support and retain talent force multipliers:
- Assess and Access Talent Through a Lens of Equity: reassess current processes used for recruitment, promotions, reviews, and retention. Are your processes fully inclusive? Conduct talent reviews to ensure women of colour are presented equitably, learn to assess talent with greater awareness and sensitivity to cultural differences, and continue to reassess these processes down the road.
- Reduce Workplace Scrutiny and Stress: understand the pulse of your department or team. Provide “Onlys” and women of colour with the assurance that they are safe to share greater authenticity among their peers and colleagues — and work to foster an environment that allows them to do so. There are organizations that specialize in helping businesses cultivate these important competencies. It would be wise for any organization looking to make meaningful change to tap into the expertise of teams who are experts in helping create systems and processes that create a blanket of psychological safety and a sense of belonging. Learn more about the importance of belonging in the workplace here.
- Trust with Confidence: earn trust through shared experiences, vulnerability, and small consistent actions over time. Reserve space for “Onlys” to not just be at the table, but to learn and contribute to the discussion at the table.
- Value an Entrepreneurial Mindset: continue to develop financial investment avenues, inclusive mentoring, and sponsorship. Within organizations, support intrapreneurship, which fosters autonomy and encourages employees to engage with the organization’s goals and take control of their work.
- Just Say ‘Yes’: be available, encouraging, offer positive acknowledgement, and engage often and directly.
- Deliver Constructive Communication: provide feedback that is constructive and encourages dialogue.
In order to tap into the talent women of colour have to offer as force multipliers, companies need to ensure their leaders and managers know what it means to create an environment that nurtures this talented group of high-performers. Organizations need to make force multipliers feel comfortable enough to be themselves fully in the workplace, and thrive in an environment where their powerful potential, opinions, and work ethic is viewed as an asset and not a threat. To make progress, women of colour must also support and uplift one another in the workplace, continue to push forward, and celebrate their collective wins along the way.