The Diversity Difference between MSP and RPO

You are probably asking why talk about the Diversity difference?  Frankly I would say the same thing. However there is a difference when it comes to RPO and MSP or managing full-time and contingent labor work processes.  This difference commonly shows up when procurement and HR are using the same word, but the meaning varies greatly.  Let’s discuss.

The visual above represents a segmentation of what holistically falls under RPO and Managed Services Programs.  At the highest levels each group supports the same processes it is the HOW that greatly varies.  More specifically we are going to focus on the SOURCING process element for this article today.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

When an RPO is asked to describe their diversity sourcing processes and how they measure their effectiveness?  The answers will focus on sourcing strategies to attract and target a diverse workforce.  This may be women, African American’s, Gays, Lesbians,  Asians or in some cases men in a mostly female industry.  The answers will further discuss sourcing candidates from minority associations, their resume databases, social networks, etc.

The focus of this answer is around the individual, the skill and the diversity in people types.  The measurement of this effort will encompass a target number of diverse candidates in a slate, to diverse hires by job type.  All of which, will and can be reported out of an applicant tracking system within the recruitment organization.

Managed Services Programs (MSP – Contingent Workforce Management)

When an MSP is asked to describe their diversity sourcing strategy, the answer moves away from the individual and focuses on:  Certified diversity suppliers, managing MWBE certificates, segmentation of requisitions to diversity suppliers and diverse supplier forums.  The metrics will focus on monthly spend to diverse suppliers.

However during a supplier selection of a staffing firm, it is not unlikely to ask how that supplier sources diverse candidates.  Yet the focus of an MSP when it comes to diversity is around the supplier network only.

The Difference

An RPO measures diversity by the candidates they submit.  An MSP measure diversity by the spend dollars and requisitions allocated to diversity suppliers for fulfillment purposes.

HR has the responsibility to manage Affirmative Action.  Affirmative Action as defined is a: Good faith efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity and correct the effects of past discrimination against affected groups. Where appropriate, affirmative action includes goals to correct underutilization and development of results-oriented programs to address problem areas.

Procurement has the responsibility to show a good faith effort towards allocating spend to minority business enterprises. This good faith effort may encompass  the provision of  information to minority, women and disabled owned businesses regarding procurement opportunities and allocating a certain amount of spend each year to these businesses.

The Net of It…

If you are looking to implement both an RPO and a MSP program, make sure the meaning of the word for all parties is the same.


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