Posted: 05 May 2021 8 min. read

Driving workforce equity with the internal talent marketplace

Internal mobility, diversity and inclusion in the workforce

Diversity and Inclusion are board-level imperatives.1 Business leaders understand that “human principles” like ethics and fairness enable organizations to thrive.2 However, socioeconomic inequities and racial injustice have renewed pressure to drive Workforce Equity.3 In fact, 94% of CEOs in Deloitte’s The equity imperative: The need for business to take bold action now found diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to be a “strategic priority.”4 Therefore, Leaders must find effective models and mechanisms to remove barriers to opportunity, address unconscious bias, eliminate disadvantages and update outdated policies all to enable equity as a business outcome.

Deloitte’s Equity Activation Model offers a systems-based approach to drive equity across three spheres of influence: Workforce, Marketplace, and Society.5 It puts forward three additional activators to guide Human Capital and DEI leaders on this journey specific to Workforce Equity. They are access to roles and positions, enablement to overcome career limitations, and advancement through orchestrated experiences and capabilities. (Defined below in greater detail).

Internal talent marketplaces – a new way to align workers with jobs, roles, gigs, and other opportunities through a technology-enabled platform – bring unique strengths to help achieve these outcomes. Also referred to as “opportunity marketplaces,” they can support talent deployment through the creation of diverse and agile teams, develop employees through experiences and unlock human potential across the internal workforce ecosystem. 

Human Capital and DEI leaders can use these marketplaces to activate and drive Workforce Equity.

Building more transparent access to opportunity

Access (def:)how an organization identifies and matches talent to roles and positions, from talent pipeline development to extension of an employment offer.”

In traditional talent deployment, unconscious biases such as affinity bias or confirmation bias can lead to preferential access for some and restricted access for others due to limited visibility of talent and as a result, a reliance on personal networks to identify candidates and/or allocate development opportunities.6 A platform approach that uses AI-generated data set for matching can make the same opportunities transparent and accessible across the workforce and can change these dynamics.

To that end, the MIT Sloan Management Review Deloitte 2020 Future of Workforce study initially identified “the design of Opportunity Marketplaces as perhaps the key leadership challenge for organizations seeking to ethically maximize human capital returns.”7 They can help organizations get the best out of their people in an ethical way with open and transparent access to opportunities: full-time, gig work, mentorship, rotation programs, stretch and volunteering assignments, and innovation and skill-building experiences.  

In this way, workers can gain visibility into sought-after roles and unique projects. Individuals can be matched with relevant opportunities based on verified skills, proven expertise, and competency data as opposed to subjective criteria such as “likeability,” “cultural fit” and opening doors for “who you know.” And, talent pools can be better accessed and assembled in a way that allows for more diverse teams. Companies, in turn, stand to achieve more equitable outcomes by promoting diversity throughout the talent access and deployment process, for all roles and at all levels.

Enabling workers to develop and invest in their careers

Enablement (def:)helping workers overcome both external and self-imposed limitations to their careers.”

Internal talent marketplaces empower the workforce with agency and choice. They can use skills as the foundation of their talent process to create a fair and objective mechanism that guides both individual development and organizational talent management. For example, AI matching of opportunities aligned to skills enables self-directed learning and development through an automatic feed of on-the-job experiences and recommendations for possible mentors,8 Thus, skills become the “currency” of the marketplace with workers from all identity groups incentivized to invest in themselves based on access to information of where the skills they have or can build will take them.

AI can break workers out of unconscious bias silos and give resources to pursue cross-functional development, chart personalized learning strategies that build competencies, and make personalized career recommendations aligned to goals. Given the data that talent marketplaces generate, organizations can quantify learning and development program effectiveness across a diverse and distributed workforce to understand each individual’s strengths/weaknesses based on work outcomes, certifications, verified skills, and other quantitative information.

Disrupting traditional approaches to career advancement

Advancement (def:)the orchestration of experiences, capabilities, and achievements that position individuals to advance in their career path.”

Deloitte’s research shows that mitigating bias in performance management requires a fact-based approach.9 However, existing internal referral and pre-selection programs, performance management processes, and workforce planning initiatives don’t always provide sufficient data. Therefore, current processes which may unconsciously marginalize under-represented Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) workers, women leaders, and other groups need a new approach to orchestrate advancement.

Organizations can use the talent marketplace data and analytics to better harness diversity in teaming strategies and enabling broad opportunities for mobility to promote more equitable outcomes. They can provide better visibility into an organization’s workforce composition and can support upskilling, reskilling, and predictive ways of developing careers. Forecasting development needs to reinforce employee value, potential, and impact in a way that can align with performance management, compensation and benefits, succession planning, and other advancement opportunities.

Intention: Workforce Equity 

Internal talent marketplaces are uniquely positioned to advance Workforce Equity by enabling the transformation of the key talent processes and practices through dynamic AI data-based solutions.  This new paradigm opens doors for all workers to access opportunities, enable careers, and advance, creating benefits for individuals, the organization, and society at large.

Setting the Purpose around Workforce Equity is a powerful starting point; to fully realize it, HR leaders need to modify the other key elements - Plan, Program, and Platform in order to drive the necessary change and effectively implement technology solutions capable of achieving these outcomes. For more on this topic, read our Deloitte Insights article to learn more about Activating the Internal Talent Marketplace.

Explore the Talent Marketplace Success Metrics tool


Ina Gantcheva

Diana Kearns-Manolatos

Christina Brodzik




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Christina Brodzik

Christina Brodzik

Principal | Deloitte Consulting LLP

As a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP and the national leader of Deloitte’s Client Service practice, Christina Brodzik brings more than 20 years of experience to the human capital space. She has worked across multiple industries to design and build DEI functions, provide coaching and support for new chief DEI officers, and develop multiyear DEI strategies. She is also a certified facilitator for Deloitte’s Inclusive Leadership Experience, Inclusion Strategy, and Chief DEI Officer Transition Labs.