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How to Use a Workday Transformation as a Lever to Achieve DEI Goals in Government

Many government organizations, whether local, state, or federal, embark on HCM modernization efforts because their legacy technology is outdated and insufficient. They need to provide more engaging employee experiences as well as to attract the next generation of workers with the modern capabilities they’ve come to expect. But, beyond providing more robust and efficient HR processes, a Workday HCM transformation can offer government agencies additional benefits that are sometimes overlooked. For those tuned in to its full-spectrum capabilities, the Workday platform can be a powerful lever to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Whether your organization has bold DEI goals or more subtle objectives, Workday HCM offers a robust toolkit of capabilities to help you achieve them. But, the toolset is only part of the equation. It is also important to embed DEI thinking into the overall project culture and set of activities, inviting users with different backgrounds to participate in the design process. This helps to ensure that users don’t feel excluded or that the transformation doesn’t inadvertently make their lives more difficult in the future state, once live.

Deloitte has experience helping government agencies unlock the DEI potential of Workday through intentional design principles and team-building techniques. Here are some tips for leveraging your Workday transformation to move the needle on DEI, a little or a lot, depending on what you want to achieve:

  • Design with inclusivity in mind. Diversity goes beyond embracing different ethnic or racial viewpoints; it also includes understanding different generational perspectives, educational backgrounds, personality traits, and more. All of these factors are relevant to solution design because they affect how employees uptake technology. Within the vast employee ecosystem, it’s critical to include diverse voices in the design process to contemplate how the HCM configuration can be more inclusive. For instance, certain communities, such as indigenous peoples or members of the  LGBTQ+ community, may have concerns about how they want to be identified and how they want their data to be used. Nonetheless, project teams may configure an item, such as a pull-down menu, in a certain way as a matter of course, without considering how the design choice could make these groups feel included or excluded.

One way to avoid unintended consequences is to form a DEI steering committee composed of different users from various stakeholder groups. For example, the City of Seattle took this approach to integrate tribal identification for indigenous people into its Workday HCM solution. By inviting design input from members of this critical segment of the workforce early on, the project team was able to build a user experience that appealed to the full employee ecosystem and promoted solution buy-in.

  • Find an implementation partner who “walks the talk.” To get the most out of Workday’s DEI functionality, it can be extremely helpful to have an implementation partner who is not only committed to DEI but also has experience in applying technology to DEI programs both for its clients and within its own organization. A partner’s willingness to “walk the talk” is often reflected in team structure. For instance, Deloitte, and its client, the City of Seattle, assigned equity leaders to the project’s senior leadership team, who work right alongside the technical and functional leaders. These equity leaders have teams underneath them who are part of the project the whole way through. The equity team is responsible for communicating DEI goals and holding the project team accountable for progressing toward them. For instance, if the project team decides to implement the Workday VIBE CentralTM dashboard, then the question becomes how is it going to be used? How can it help leaders make decisions about compensation or promotions? Can it be leveraged to take some of the bias out of those process? The equity team helps the functional and technical teams align on effective ways to use the technology to move the organization forward in building a more inclusive culture.
  • Use every tool you’ve got. There is functionality across the Workday solution that can be configured to support nearly every aspect of DEI. For instance, Workday HCM provides the ability to anonymize candidates during the early stages of recruiting process in order to reduce unintentional bias in the selection criteria, like what someone’s name sounds like, where they went to school, or how long they’ve been in the workforce. With this feature, recruitment managers can evaluate candidates based solely on their skillsets and capabilities and determine how they want to move people through the recruiting funnel. Workday can also support talent managers in building a more equitable and inclusive culture, through capabilities powered by AI such as Career Hub, where people can build networks, meet people who have similar interests and skillsets, and identify mentors to help grow and develop their career paths based on skills or competencies they want to learn. Using every tool at your disposal to further the organization’s DEI goals can help you maximize the value of the overall HCM transformation.
  • Have the data discussion upfront. Data collection is the point where privacy, which is a legitimate equity concern, intersects with the ability to report and measure diversity targets. Within government organizations, data is often the biggest discussion point, with one group pushing for the minimum amount of data to be collected on individuals and another pressuring for the maximum amount. Arriving at a balance point can make or break your ability to realize DEI benefits from your implementation. To arrive at that balance point, it is essential to determine and communicate what the data will be used for as well as address any policy and legal hurdles to collecting it. Transparency is essential to building trust. Workers are more likely to support data collection efforts if they know how the data will be protected and anonymized; how it will be used to create better policies and programs; and how it will improve their work lives. This dialogue sets the stage for one win to build upon another. If employees see positive outcomes from the data that has been gathered, then they will be more willing to provide additional information to continue the organization’s DEI journey.
  • Put policies and programs first. Workday has robust DEI capabilities but organizations have to have appropriate programs in place to capitalize on them. This comes back to the goals and objectives of the organizations. For instance, does the organization have a mentorship program? Does it encourage people to network and to support each other? If not, even a powerful feature like Career Hub will be of limited value. Workday can’t do DEI in a vacuum. It is a toolkit that organizations can use to help move their own policies, procedures and goals forward.

Workday provides tools that can help organizations achieve their DEI objectives, regardless of how they perceive them. Whether it’s decreasing bias in the recruiting process or building inclusivity to help retain and develop employees, Workday has the ability to bring together data and normalize it so executives understand their workforce. It can also provide insights into what they need to do to attract the next generation of employees, many of whom are seeking a sense of belonging at work. In the end, using Workday to achieve DEI goals doesn’t have to be a separate exercise. It can be part of an existing modernization project, and leaders can take advantage of those two things together.