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How can having an MSP help further your EDI agenda?

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the workplace has evolved far beyond being mere buzzwords or checkboxes on corporate agendas.


Instead, it has developed into an indispensable cornerstone of modern organisations, reshaping their very foundation – a transformative force that unlocks the true potential of individuals and propels organisations towards unprecedented levels of success and fulfilment.


Measuring EDI in the workplace is important for several reasons from identifying disparities and making data-driven decisions to attracting / retaining talent and demonstrating a commitment to accountability and transparency.


But how do you measure EDI to gauge progress and identify areas for improvement, particularly if a significant portion of your workforce is made up of contingent workers?


This is where being in partnership with Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help.


Missing Data 


If you’re like most companies, you probably already collect EDI data for your permanent headcount.


You might even capture and track some EDI data through your recruitment process.


But what about your contingent workforce? Where do you get your EDI data for that portion of workers? Particularly if a large proportion of your workforce is made up of contractors / temporary workers.


And if you don’t collect EDI data about that segment of your worker population, what message does that convey to the rest of your organisation about your commitment to promote and foster EDI values, if you’re happy to disregard a large proportion of your total workforce?


Unless you already have an MSP partner, you are most likely sourcing your contingent labour through an ad hoc supply agreement or via a PSL (Preferred Supplier List), a pre-approved list of recruitment suppliers.

The problem with this set up is that they’re probably not all collecting EDI data on your behalf.


And if they are, they’re not likely capturing EDI data at every stage of the recruitment process starting from application right through to shortlisting, interview, and offer stage. Nor is there the impetus on their behalf to do so.

When you’re trying to focus on a certain aspect of your EDI strategy this becomes challenging because you’re essentially missing out on a huge percentage of your working population.


So, your first challenge is the fact that a lot of data is simply missed out.


Data consistency and uniformity

Your second challenge is the fact that even if you’re able to gather EDI data from every single PSL supplier, the probability that it is being captured and categorised in the same way, across all suppliers, is low.

So, although you now have access to the data, how do you collate all that information into an accurate EDI report of your entire workforce?  Especially when the metrics used to capture and categorise the data lacks uniformity and consistency across the board.


Why would you want EDI data about your contingent workforce? 


If you want to embed EDI initiatives and to treat everybody fairly or to target certain groups and/or to address imbalances that are obvious in your data, then collecting EDI data about your contractor / temporary population is important as it allows you to look at that data consistently and holistically, over your entire population.


What sort of message are you sending to your hiring manager community if as a business you are consistently asking them to target certain EDI groups for your permanent hires, including changing the ways that you structure your interview panels, and yet for your contingent workers, you’re happy as a business to disregard all that?


Without meaning to, you’re essentially undermining all the groundwork you’ve put in place for your permanent workforce as you’re giving mixed messages.

So how can a single supplier help? 


By working with an MSP provider, you’ve not only got one single channel for bringing in those contingent workers but you’re also working with one partner to address any EDI challenges you’re facing and what initiatives you want to put into place to address those.


An MSP partner should be able to look at your contingent workforce EDI data and to pinpoint at what stage of the recruitment process they’ve identified any inconsistencies and/or inequalities. They can then give you their thoughts and ideas about how best to address those.


For example, 30% of your applications might be coming from candidates who are over 50 but by the time they get to interview stage, that percentage has shrunk dramatically.

“Is there something happening in the shortlisting / selection for interview stage? Perhaps people have an unconscious bias towards these kinds of individuals? And what can we do to address it?” said Alistair Haigh, Rullion Commercial Solutions Executive Director.

“The sign of a good MSP partnership is when it’s not just your MSP partner supporting the initiatives that you want to put into place. But it’s when that MSP partner comes to you and points out the inequalities that they are seeing with regards to your contingent workforce and give you some of their ideas and thoughts about what they could be doing about it.”


An MSP partner can also give you examples of what they’re doing with other clients who are in a broadly similar industry to yours, particularly if they’re getting a much more diverse pool of candidates compared to you.



Why would you gather EDI data? 


By gathering this data we can assess whether we’re attracting candidates from varied backgrounds, assessing them fairly and keeping them engaged throughout the recruitment process. Without this data, you cannot do that.

It’s also easy to assume that the reason you don’t have a very diverse workforce is because you’re not attracting enough people with certain characteristics.


However, this is a big assumption to make.


When you collect the data, you can start to spot trends. And the data might show you that attraction isn’t the problem. The problem lies in other stages of the process.


For example, it could indicate unconscious bias in the people who are doing the shortlisting and interviewing that is leading to fewer people with a specific demographic being hired. Or it could indicate that there is something about your recruitment process that is repelling the people you want to target to work for you.


If you’re trying to attract more women engineers for instance, and yet only men are involved in the recruitment process, fewer women might want to come and work for you as they don’t see anyone who looks like them working for your organisation, nor do they get the sense EDI is a priority for you.  


Technology tailored to your requirements


When you’re working with a single supplier as part of an MSP partnership, they’ll typically use some sort of Vendor Management System (VMS), a software platform that enables you to effectively manage your contingent workforce and other suppliers in your supply chain.


Most VMS technology can capture your EDI data and track it all the way through the recruitment process from requisition to onboarding.


Moreover, the advantage of having an MSP partner is that, like many other benefits they offer such as a dedicated account team and billing process, all your EDI requirements can be tailored exclusively to you.

For example, you can stipulate precisely the data sets you wish your MSP partner to use to capture EDI data (e.g., age ranges) so that it matches the data descriptors you use during permanent hiring. This immediately builds consistency across your data set giving you a more accurate picture of your entire workforce. 


Supporting you with specific EDI initiatives 


Once you’ve gathered all this data in a consistent format, it can easily be compared to your entire workforce and across different departments and locations, which you can then start to segment into different EDI groups / departments / locations etc.


Your MSP partner can then think about how best to address the findings and what initiatives to put in place to target those. You can then work with your MSP partner on specific key areas of focus within your EDI strategy that you want to concentrate on and would like support with.  


For instance, as part of Rullion’s MSP partnership with a leading energy provider, we helped increase their female engineering contingent workforce from 12% to 19% because women in engineering was a particular focus they wanted to address as a business.


We also support STEM initiatives in schools and colleges, which are local to sites where our client operates, by going in to talk to students about what the energy provider does, and what an engineer’s role involves. The idea is to get children, and particularly young women and girls, involved in understanding what engineering is and what the pathways into engineering are.


Taking gender inequality as an example, your MSP partner can look at how to utilise gender decoders more effectively when creating job adverts so that you’re encouraging more women to apply for your roles. Or they can suggest targeting specific job boards or candidate attraction methods which they know more women will utilise.


An MSP partner can also help to make your shortlisting process more effective by committing never to put forward all male shortlists. Even if a female candidate doesn’t meet the exact criteria you need, they can ensure to always include at least one female engineer in every shortlist put forward.

A good MSP partner will also think outside the box.


Given the skills shortage felt by most utilities and energy providers we work with, particularly in engineering and other STEM related roles, we put together a collection of short stories that celebrated female engineers within these organisations. These stories were aimed at capturing the imaginations of young girls and were made freely available for download.


However, the buck doesn’t just stop with your MSP.


Although an MSP partner can help further your EDI agenda, you’re also responsible for taking their suggestions onboard when they’ve identified areas in your recruitment process that could be having an impact in promoting your EDI initiatives.

An MSP can commit to never putting forward an all-male shortlist, but it doesn’t have any control over whether you choose to always put together an all-male interview panel or to use only male engineers during the interview stage.

Think about the message that sends out to women engineers applying for your roles? On the one hand you’re claiming to be a diverse and inclusive business and on the other, women candidates are being given the impression they might be the only female engineer on their team.

“That’s where an MSP can work with its customers to change what they’re doing and in doing so promote a more inclusive approach to interviewing, assessment etc,” said Alistair.


Other partnerships


Another benefit of working with an MSP is that they often forge partnerships with other organisations that promote EDI initiatives.


Rullion currently work with Evenbreak, a job board that matches disabled candidates to inclusive employers, and B2W Group, a skills and training provider focused on pre-employment and employability training, bootcamps and apprenticeships. 

As part of these partnerships, we’ve contributed towards both a global manufacturing business and a national retailer, achieving their diversity commitments.


By working with an MSP who is committed to fostering partnerships with organisations such as Evenbreak and B2WGroup, they can open your eyes to the impact your recruitment process could be having on candidates, so that you adapt your recruitment and working practices to accommodate for everyone, including for example, people who have physical disabilities and/or who are neurodivergent.


By not actively targeting those individuals, by making your recruitment processes more inclusive, you are potentially missing out on some great people joining your organisations.


When you work with an MSP partner, they can challenge your thinking by asking you: How do we address this? How can we do something about this? How can we move this forward?


What you want is a partner who can help you find ways to not only attract these candidates but to also lead to their employment in your organisation.


Other areas an MSP can support with your EDI initiatives


An MSP can also help with specific areas of focus like working with you on your graduate programme to target individuals with specific EDI characteristics.


As an organisation, you might love to get involved in initiatives like the government’s former Kick Start scheme or 10,000 Black Interns. These are great initiatives, but they typically involve quite a bit of effort and work up front and you might not have the resource to do it or the training programmes in place to commit to something like that.


That’s where your MSP partner can help support you to make programmes like these a reality by managing some, or all, of the process for you.


For example, as part of our MSP partnership with a leading utilities company we undertook part of the recruitment process for their 10,000 Black Interns initiative.


What this demonstrates is that an MSP has flexible resource and can deploy more people to undertake this for you on your behalf.


In effect, an MSP partnership is much more of a talent partner and can support in other areas, not just your contingent work. Over time it can evolve and change according to your business needs.


In this way it can help support the management of various EDI initiatives you might want to put in place but don’t have the capacity to do so.


And don’t forget… 



It’s all very well having EDI principles and focusing on hiring certain groups of individuals, but what about once they join your organisation? Do they feel included while they’re working for you – even if it’s only a temporary / contract basis?


There’s much that contingent workers can contribute during their time in your organisations and a richness of experience that they bring with them. So, it’s not just about focusing on bringing in diversity, it’s also about how you make them feel while they’re with you.

Hence, if within your organisation you’ve done a lot of good work on your inclusion policies and have set up specific groups that your permanent workforce can be a part of, such as LGBT groups or women in engineering groups, don’t forget from an inclusion perspective to make sure that your contingent workforce can be part of those too.

And again, that’s where having a single partner that is committed to working with you to figure out ways in which you can improve your EDI can be of great value to you by bringing that to your attention.


Essentially, what you want to make sure is that you’ve got a supplier who’s collecting the data and collecting it in a consistent way and then it’s about working together to identify opportunities to improve EDI within your business but also how to come together to solve some of those challenges and make them a reality.



Need support managing your EDI strategy or simply interested in exploring further how an MSP can help you with that? Fill out our contact form below and we’ll get back to you.