By Steve Finlayson, Associate Partner, Oracle HCM Cloud Leader, IBM
One of the first things you notice when you walk into the London headquarters of one of the world’s largest law firms is a wall covered in plaques. Look closer and you’ll see that a good number of them represent awards for the firm’s achievements in workforce diversity and inclusion.
Promoting diversity and inclusion is a particular passion for this law firm, which has more than a dozen offices across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense for a firm that thrives on representing an increasingly diverse and multicultural clientele.
Of course, saying that you promote diversity is one thing. Actually doing it is another.
Until recently, tracking the firm’s progress toward diversity goals was a tedious task. That’s because most of the firm’s offices around the world operated their own human resources systems that housed separate silos of data. Not surprisingly, the scattered data sources made it hard to extract and compile critical information about the overall global workforce. Making the job even more difficult: Many offices were running aging on-premises systems and still relied on spreadsheets to tally and analyze data.
Another challenge was making sure data from each office conformed to common definitions. “Inclusivity” in one country can mean something quite different in another.
I learned about these challenges from one of the firm’s key executives in charge of transforming the company’s HR platform and bringing every office onto a single, cloud-based platform. Our discussions eventually turned into an opportunity to join forces with the firm to launch this ambitious project.
The executive was excited about the possibility of deploying a cloud-based solution that would put all workforce data in a single place, reducing the time and effort needed to collate and report on diversity programs as well as many other HR performance metrics. We showed them how Oracle HCM Cloud could generate the information in real time from a single platform.
About 18 months later, the single global platform was a reality. No longer would the firm need to manually compile data from different countries or struggle to reconcile different data sets. My executive partner was thrilled: Now he had a simple and automated way to demonstrate how the firm was worthy of all those awards hanging in the lobby.
What’s more, the law firm could use the new cloud HCM platform to deploy front-end recruiting strategies to help it meet its diversity and other business goals. For example, using Oracle Talent Acquisition Cloud, the firm allows candidates to volunteer demographic information that could help reduce bias in hiring decisions.
Of course, it was no simple task to integrate HR processes across more than a dozen countries. But the effort itself helped pull the firm’s global workforce closer together, as executives and teams from different offices met to talk about the firm’s new vision and strategy – and to strike a balance on many issues. Although legal and regulatory mandates in individual countries meant we needed to allow for some differences in HR processes, we discovered a surprising amount of common ground.
Today the law firm has one integrated global HR system to support the firm’s international presence. The system is easily scalable and comes with a solid security infrastructure to protect the privacy of employees and clients. Meanwhile, the platform’s automated workflows reduce the risk of human error and filter out bad data.
Recruitment is a seamless part of the platform, and with Oracle SOA Cloud Service, any applications that needed to remain on-premises for the time being were readily connected to the cloud platform. The project also made it possible to introduce a global Oracle HR Helpdesk, uniting the workforce with convenient shared services that are enhancing the employee experience worldwide.
Perhaps most of all, executives loved how the solution aligned with the firms’ strategy to grow globally. They are confident that continuing to demonstrate the firm’s leadership in inclusivity and diversity – and doing it in a more efficient manner – will create a clear competitive edge in marketplace. Growth will also be fueled by the cloud platform’s ability to provide full visibility across the global workforce. As my executive partner told me: “We can now deploy the right people in the right place at the right time.” That’s a big advantage in an industry that is increasingly global, mobile and social.
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