Why responsible tech, not “vanity metrics”, will achieve workplace inclusion

Bhargava explains how her expansion services firm is using tech to fight underrepresentation

Gita Bhargava, a serial entrepreneur with decades of experience in management, accounting, and finance operations is the power behind corporate global expansion services firm Global Upside Corporation. Here Bhargava speaks to DiversityQ about the use of responsible tech in boosting real workplace inclusion.

How does having a diverse and inclusive culture make a company outperform others on profitability?

Reports have shown that companies who have a more diverse and inclusive work culture are more likely to outperform their competition on profitability by 36%. People of different backgrounds bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. The most creative and coherent ideas and strategies are fostered when these differing minds are brought together in a collaborative environment. A diverse culture is important and beneficial for driving innovation, flexibility, and versatility in international companies. As a company servicing global clients, having a diverse and inclusive workforce allows us to better understand markets across the globe and improve our communications and service quality.

In what ways does such a culture make staff more engaged?

Having a diverse and inclusive culture allows staff to feel like they are not merely employees and are truly a part of the company. When diversity and inclusion are at the forefront, everyone knows that their opinion is valued, and they feel welcomed and encouraged to voice their thoughts and perspectives. We firmly believe that salary alone will not retain employees or keep them engaged and motivated. Fostering an inclusive culture can provide employees with advancement opportunities and the reassurance that they are an integral part of the company’s overall mission. In turn, they will be more likely to feel a sense of ownership in the company.

What does unconscious bias look like, and how can technology be used to overcome this?

Unconscious bias is unintentionally judging a book by its cover. When this happens, people are not given a fair chance, and endless possibilities are neglected. This can cause companies to miss out on incredibly talented and well-qualified candidates and clients to lose out on the first-rate service. Technology can help to eliminate preconceived judgments and assumptions that tend to influence hiring decisions in an illogical manner.

AI-driven assessment models can be designed to meet certain beneficial requirements and assess an entire roster of candidates for those requirements, rather than having a hiring manager rely on the unconscious bias when eliminating applicants. Blind screenings allow recruiters to make objective decisions based on a candidate’s skillset, suitability, and qualifications without taking their name, gender, age, or race into account.

What data should organisations be measuring if they want to effectively improve their D&I?

Employers shouldn’t just focus on vanity metrics and increasing the number of minorities alone. Companies should monitor customer feedback, initiate pay equity audits, and analyse feedback from employee surveys. Organisations must also devote efforts toward recognising and dismantling their own individual and collective biases within their current systems. When we do this, everyone is given an equal chance and systems in place have a real opportunity to improve at all levels.

It is also important to implement anonymous surveys to collect feedback from your employees and initiate open-ended discussions. We conduct anonymous internal surveys to determine what our employees are satisfied with, what they would like to see implemented, and how best to serve those needs. From these responses, we can analyse which methods were effective or ineffective and strategise new plans.

Is delivering D&I and awareness training to staff digitally more effective?

Delivering such training in person gives a personal touch and in-person examples for helping overcome biases. Delivering training digitally allows employees to engage and initiate conversations around certain issues without the feeling of discomfort or judgment that they may feel in person. Additionally, with digital training, employees have ongoing access to the information, and they can refer back to it as often as they need. The most effective route for delivering these types of training, in my opinion, would be to implement both, especially as companies continue to move to hybrid-working models.

Can you give examples of firms that have used technology to improve D&I initiatives?

At Global Upside, we utilise our HCM software, Mihi, to measure our company’s quantitative aspect of diversity. This technology provides us with in-depth workforce metrics and comprehensive reporting that allows us to determine the demographic breakdown across the company and monitor things like pay equity and employee satisfaction. With this information, we can examine and address any imbalances and underrepresentation.

Our team can then collectively establish a plan of action to improve these metrics and implement them throughout the company. We have seen other recruiting tech firms use AI and self-reported data that uses predictive algorithms that give recruiters a directional sense of their talent pool and the representation of candidates passing through. This analysis allows companies to measure how they are doing in terms of hiring a diverse and inclusive workforce.

When using technology in this way, is there anything organisations should be aware of?

Companies must not just rely solely on technology and metrics to carry out their diversity and inclusion initiatives. It is important that a plan of action is decided upon collectively and that management continuously devotes efforts toward that plan. These initiatives must be implemented across all areas of the business and not just toward hiring practices. Other measures that can be implemented to promote diversity and inclusion efforts include offering development and advancement opportunities, pay equity monitoring, employee engagement programs, educational training, and employee surveys. It is equally imperative that management is constantly assessing the success of these efforts.

At Global Upside, how are you doing on D&I?

I am proud to say that we have established diversity and inclusion initiatives that have proven to be successful. We are an equal opportunity employer, and we take pride in giving all candidates with soft skills and potential a fair chance. The most impactful thing we’ve learned along the way is the importance of constantly assessing the frequency of your initiatives and modifying them as needed. Some of our most successful implementations have been AI-driven recruitment processes, regular internal anonymous surveys, regular performance reviews, bi-weekly employee engagement events, and the incorporation of monthly women’s group meetings which provide an open space for the women in our company to share thoughts, concerns, and challenges.

You are a strong believer in the “power of positive thinking”, has this aided your own career progression?

The power of positive thinking has certainly helped me continue to push forward in my career. From the beginning of my journey, I have been told that I can’t do what others can. Having this positive mentality allowed me to silence those voices internally and believe in my own abilities. I constantly aim to mentor women in our company to have this same belief and have embedded it into our company culture.

I have faced adversity on many accounts throughout my career journey. Back in India, I got involved with my family’s business at the age of 16 to help save it and had to fight for acceptance in the marketplace as a young woman. When I later came to the US with my husband, I didn’t know any English and had only $5 in my pocket. I juggled school, work, and motherhood to start this company with my husband’s support, and he later joined me to successfully grow it. With the power of positive thinking, believing in myself, and never taking “no” for an answer, I was able to overcome all of these obstacles – and other women can too.


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