Last summer in this column, I wrote about the changes that we had seen due to the pandemic, calls for social justice and more, and how it was an opportunity for the industry to build back better. As has been the case throughout this tumultuous year, every day we know so much more now than we did last year at this time. Let’s examine what has changed and where we are going.

Here to stay. First, it’s clear that the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is not going away. And that’s a good thing.

At SIA, we’ve been working on the DE&I front in a number of ways. For over a decade now we have used our publishing and research platform to recognize diversity staffing suppliers, and we continue that. We have also been proud to promote gender diversity for many years through our Global Power 150 — Women in Staffing list. The recognition in the pages of Staffing Industry Review magazine and online has been great and it’s been even more meaningful to see at our live events the face-to-face connections, friendships and mentoring that have developed through the years.

And now, we are thrilled to have taken our promotion of DE&I to the next level by recognizing the people in the ecosystem who are effecting change in this important area. The 50 people recognized as “Influencers” in this issue are just the tip of the iceberg of many who have gone to extraordinary lengths to promote DE&I in staffing and beyond. This is our way of helping to elevate the topic by recognizing excellence. I encourage you to check out their stories online at for inspirational people and ideas and to recognize all the progress that has been made and that will be coming in the future. There are so many different approaches and so many worthy causes. The energy, innovation and commitment continue to inspire me, as I hope they will inspire you.

We have also been busy this past year using our research capabilities to better understand the current state of diversity and inclusion in contingent work, as well as to highlight the best practices of leading-edge enterprise clients of staffing. We undertook this research in conjunction with HireTalent/Consciously Unbiased and Beeline. First and foremost, we believe the research makes the case that there is a strong return on investment in building DE&I into contingent workforce programs, with leading-edge companies 27% more likely than laggards to see their ability to attract contingent talent as a source of competitive advantage.

We also saw that leading-edge companies are more likely to measure their DE&I activities than others, with leading-edge companies 17 times more likely to be satisfied with their diversity measurement efforts than laggards. Additionally, leaders look beyond supplier ownership and also focus on candidate diversity. Those leaders are four times as likely as laggards to track the presence of diverse candidates in applicant pools.

How you can help. Beyond research, we continue to use our conferences and events to highlight the work being done on DE&I by seeking out more executives with diverse backgrounds. Based on research we did in conjunction with the WBC Staffing Council, a workstream within the Women Business Collaborative and other industry groups, we know that there is still significant progress that needs to be made at executive levels in terms of gender and racial diversity in staffing firms. That executive level is the pool we draw from when we look for speakers for SIA events and generally our speakers reflect the diversity (or lack thereof) of the industry itself. We encourage industry leaders to continue to make strides in this area and ask all of you to introduce us to outstanding diverse industry executives for potential speaking roles, so that we can amplify their voices.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. SIA, the industry and the surrounding ecosystem continue to make those steps. I look forward to seeing more progress in the days ahead.