Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace are key factors for providing companies with a competitive advantage. In fact, A recent survey by PwC shows ‘globally, organisations are committing to D&I at higher rates than ever, with 87% of respondents indicating that D&I is a stated value or priority for their organisation.’ But what does this mean in practice, and how is technology helping them to become more inclusive and diverse?
Having employees that don’t all share the same gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical abilities, spiritual beliefs, or race has many advantages. Data shows that “organisations with a higher diversified population tend to have a higher level of creativity and innovation, broader skill sets, and more varied experiences and points of view than homogenous organisations.”
Apart from the social justice advantages D&I offer, it is also good for business. As a 2018 McKinsey report states, companies in the top-quartile for workforce diversity are 33% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts financially. This in mind, companies around the world are now trying to find ways to make it happen. This is where technology steps in.
Analyst Stacia Garr and her team at RedThread Research created a report along with Mercer on how technology is helping companies achieve better levels of diversity and inclusion within their organisations. “D&I technology is a market gaining traction and poised for rapid acceleration, with the capabilities to offer breakthrough insights that can drive new behaviour and actions to accelerate progress further,” she states.
According to this report, the largest segment of D&I technology (43%) is talent acquisition technologies. Software that provides organisations with the tools to recruit diverse professionals by decreasing unconscious bias while giving professionals a platform where they can really be engaged and seen. Removing unconscious bias in business is tricky since stereotypes exist in our subconscious that affects the decision-making process in businesses, and this leads to creating an unequal and non-inclusive workplace.
But, in recent years, there has been a rise in recruiting and sourcing practices for uncovering top talent to help fight bias by focusing on specific groups of people. They range from associations and organisations representing women at all skill levels like Fairygodboss and job sites for underrepresented ethnic groups like Black Career Network. There are also websites dedicated to helping retired professionals find part-time jobs like RetiredBrains or platforms for LGBT+ professionals like myGwork, who is a strong advocate for workplace equality. Software technology is enabling recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to increase diversity and inclusion.
Engagement is Key
Another important factor for creating a diverse and inclusive environment in any business is engagement. Making the employee’s experience and communication a pleasurable one is important, and technologies such as instant messaging (IM), web conferencing and webinars are contributing towards eliminating the barriers to inclusivity that persist.
Nick Ismail argues that “Webinars or webcasts enable businesses to ensure that staff are always connected and in tune with important strategy decisions, updates and success stories from across the company. Being able to join from any location, the traditional barrier of not being able to be physically present in the room to be included in the discussion is removed.” Some organisations offer online training to their clients to make sure all employees become more inclusive. myGwork, for example, provides training for non-LGBT+ employees on understanding the basics of LGBT+ language and how to become an ally.
Furthermore, diversion and inclusion technology plays a vital role in analytics by providing improved visibility of data. Carole Jackson, senior principal of research and products for D&I at Mercer, stated that “Companies typically have relied on a lot of ad hoc analysis to understand where they stand on diversity. The tools in modern technology make that data more visible and easily analysed not just for HR leaders or top executives but also for line managers who are increasingly being held accountable for D&I performance as well.”
Advancing with VR
Development and advancement are also significant in achieving D&I in the workplace. Through technology, both employees, as well as leaders, have access to virtual reality training and diverse networking opportunities, conferences and events. Technology can help connect talent with mentors and personalised career paths as well as provide tools to help find, flag and offer structure to eliminate bias in performance feedback and recognition practices. Furthermore, technology can help with HiPO identification and representation.
As Dhruv Mukerjee comments: “Technology can effectively be deployed at this stage to ensure an accurate study of the individual’s capability like leadership potential, strategic vision and the ability to motivate others. Using simulation-based assessments, HR managers now have more efficient tools to gauge both quantitative and qualitative aspects of their candidates.”
Although change doesn’t happen overnight, D&I technologies are paving the way for a new day where workplace equality will be a given. As Stacia Garr states, it is possible that “the market will continue to expand toward D&I tech solutions aimed at guiding decision making in firms through D&I insights and analytics, improving organisational culture, and reducing unconscious bias.”
By Adrien Gaubert, an expert in LGBT recruitment.