Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

IMF: The world needs more women in finance

According to “Women in Finance: A Case for Closing Gaps,” the newest study from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services would have benefits beyond addressing gender inequality. “Growing evidence suggests that increasing women’s access to and use of financial services can have both economic and societal benefits. For example, in Kenya, women merchants who opened a basic bank account invested more in their businesses. Female-headed households in Nepal spent more on education after opening a savings account,” IMF Blog notes. The paper also looked at the gaps between the numbers of men and women in leadership positions in banks and in banking-supervision agencies worldwide. It found that women accounted for fewer than 2 percent of financial institutions’ chief executive officers and fewer than 20 percent of executive board members. “The analysis suggests that the presence of women as well as a higher share of women on bank boards appears associated with greater financial resilience,” write the authors of the study.

HR Tech Conference highlights

In this ERE blog post, Joel Cheesman shares the four key takeaways from the HR Tech Conference held in Las Vegas last week. 1. Business is good. “For an industry that thrives when the economy is good and literally falls apart when things go south, the conference was proof that the economic party is alive and well,” he writes. 2. Apps 2.0 is here. Cheesman says HR companies are reaching beyond Facebook and Twitter and are leveraging a new generation of platforms. 3. Chatbots are for real. “I’ve called them commodities, but for now business looks good for the chatbot players,” he writes. “Automation is in.” 4. Who wasn’t there was very telling. Cheesman believes the absence of Glasdoor, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Slack indicates the event was more focused on partnerships, instead of sales.

Using big data to build a talent pipeline

Speaking of the participants at last week’s HR Tech Conference, this HR Executive piece highlights our presentation, where Accenture’s Mike Gabour talked about using big data to build a robust talent pipeline. “Gone are the days when you had 10 years to respond to a new tech trend. These days you’ll be lucky if you get two,” he said. We partnered with Burning Glass Technologies to explore the larger world of human-capital data to get answers to questions like: How do we validate what we’re seeing internally? How do we make sure we’re not missing what’s happening in the external marketplace? And how do we look to the next one to two years and predict what the future trends will be? With data Burning Glass collects from 50,000 sources, and with the nearly 1 billion jobs in its database going back to 2010, we were able to see job skills in context. We could also make appropriate comparisons between two companies in the same industry, in order to get an accurate look at the companies’ “talent shape” and see what types of skills they are looking for. This information allows companies to identify future skills gaps and how to invest in future learning, as well as where to focus on hiring. “Using this information can really help inform our decisions and prioritize those investments we need to make on a quarterly or annual basis,” Gabour said at the conference.

APAC’s contingent workforce is thriving

Freelancers, independent contractors and consultants make up more than 30 percent of the overall Asia Pacific (APAC) workforce, a 13-percent increase from last year, India.com reports. The finding comes from an online survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of KellyOCG. It canvassed more than 200 C-suite executives from industries such as financial services, life sciences, healthcare and medical services, manufacturing and production, and education, across APAC. “Many leaders are getting access to hard-to-find skills sets and talent pools by deploying the contingent workforce. This marks a significant shift for businesses in India, and organizations that successfully engage this pool of talent will have an edge over their counterparts in the market,” said KellyOCG’s Francis Padamadan.

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