Equity, Belonging, and Career Growth Opportunity Valued Most by Contingent Workers of Color

As millions of workers continue to resign from their roles – 2.2 million in February 2022 alone, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics – the allure of project-based, flexible work continues to grow apace. Composing 35% of U.S. employees in 2021, temporary workers add notable value to organizations, allowing companies to scale demand, onboard specialized talent, and respond to market changes quickly.

Werklabs, the research and insights division of The Mom Project, conducted a robust study of 943 contingent workers from diverse backgrounds to rate what matters most to them, along with the drivers most significantly impacting workplace recruiting and employee longevity. Notably, survey results brought to light certain demographic-specific splits in core values.

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Contingent work holds particular appeal for mothers and caregivers. Professionals are motivated to pursue project-based work for a variety of reasons, among them schedule-related flexibility that often lends itself to better work-life integration. Short-term contracts are also seen as a professional stepping stone and pathway to permanent work or career advancement, especially among non-traditional candidates. A recent, related survey of participants from The Mom Project’s scholarship-led upskilling program, RISE, revealed that 90% of individuals join RISE with a need or desire to increase their earning potential, and that contract roles can support this goal.

Chandra Sanders, Director of RISE, The Mom Project’s scholarship-led upskilling program, notes that flexibility is a non-negotiable for many working mothers. Says Sanders: “For mothers needing to attend to their family needs and progress their careers simultaneously, flexible, contingent work is incredibly appealing. Many of the mothers, particularly mothers of color, that we have seen come through RISE since the onset of the pandemic have sought out our program in an effort to keep themselves competitive, learn new tech-related skills, and make sharp pivots in the wake of COVID-related job loss. After graduating, many of them land valuable contingent contracts as a first step or next step in reimagining their professional lives.”

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Werklabs also noted key intrapersonal values that motivate contingent talent. Factors including equity, trust, and support were among the drivers impacting contingent work experiences and the amount of optimism the extended workforce has for their careers. Notably, persons of color and women cited that such cultural traits mattered more to them than other demographics. For instance, upwards of 90% of Black and 85% of Hispanic contingent workers stated that belonging – defined as feeling empowered to be themselves at work and having work aligned with personal values – was of the utmost importance when choosing opportunities.

As contingent work offers the possibility of supporting an organization’s DEI efforts, introducing new, diverse voices to a company and fostering a culture of inclusivity, addressing the values of workers of color and working mothers is especially important. Says Pam Cohen, head of Werklabs: “Inclusion matters, especially for underrepresented segments of the workforce. Transparent communication, feeling empowered to do one’s job, equitable treatment, and people-centric cultures that nurture belonging break down barriers for persons of color. Making diverse talent feel more engaged and valued in their roles is key to the success of any organization.”

With contingent workers uniquely suited to deliver high-quality skills and address companies’ urgent need for diverse talent, now is the time to activate a robust, flexible extended workforce strategy. Launching the “Power Your Flex” campaign this April, The Mom Project aims to guide forward-thinking companies on how to purposefully tap into the power of a flexible workforce with moms

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