A truly inclusive workplace should include a broad range of highly diversified individuals, each boasting their own set of unique skills, background, knowledge, and professionalism. Acknowledging barriers to inclusivity and breaking them down is the focus of DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion). Taking steps to ensure diversity and inclusiveness means being able to leave behind all those inherent visible and invisible biases that lead to an undiversified, homogeneous organization.
In theory, anyone who wants to run a successful business would want to have a highly diversified workforce that is able to overcome all challenges with a full range of skills. In practice, this translates into a workplace where all kinds of different individuals from all genders, backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and physical/psychological fitness can collaborate toward achieving a common goal.
However, despite all our efforts, we as humans are often plagued by toxic biases that let us, sometimes unconsciously, prefer people who think, live, and even just look like us. (Read: Can AI Have Bias?)
Machines, on the other hand, can help us focus on the true value of talent and divergent points of view rather than social grouping and belonging, providing the data they are trained on is free from bias. So, without further ado, it’s time to have a look at those new techs that have the potential to revolutionize the enterprise world by impacting DEI goals in the workplace.
Optimizing Hiring Processes for Inclusion
Logically, it just makes sense that if you want to have a more diverse workforce than you have had previously, then you need to make adjustments to the way you go about recruiting talent. Business leaders seeking to cultivate diverse teams often find it challenging to prospect for qualified candidates from underrepresented cohorts.
This is an especially acute issue for enterprise, where recruiters are tasked with hiring at scale, and the go-to talent pipelines and evaluation workflows are deeply entrenched. Joonko, an HR tech startup, uses artificial intelligence to pattern match the best candidate to the right position, removing latent biases in the hiring process.
The key to Joonko’s novel approach is the company’s “silver medalist” concept, whereby algorithms examine current openings and identify candidates who previously made it through multiple levels of vetting for relevant positions with similar skill and experience requirements. The system then feeds these silver medalists – who are often women, military veterans or ethnic minorities – directly into hiring companies’ applicant tracking systems, so recruiters can find the talent they’re looking for.
Another useful tool to help companies meet diversity and inclusion recruiting goals is Pinpoint, a platform which encourages existing employees to refer people they know from underrepresented groups as candidates. The platform also automates the creation and distribution of bias-free job listings and ads to relevant job boards and digital communities.
Blendoor, meanwhile, performs a diversity and inclusion assessment and assigns companies a “BlendScore,” which includes a needs-gap drill down into your employer brand. A high BlendScore provides social proof to potential candidates from underrepresented groups, while the service also recommends executives for hire, using its curated, anonymized database. (Read also: Why is There Still a Gender Gap in Tech?)
Virtual Training to Disrupt Discrimination
Discrimination is bad. Discrimination is ugly. Discrimination makes everyone, not just those who are discriminated against, work in a toxic environment that leads to inefficiency, demotivation, and ultimately, reduced profits. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how doing your job in a stressful environment kills any chances of healthy communication, purposeful collaboration, creative thinking, and productive innovation.
Internal DEI development programs courses can include specific training aimed at tackling unconscious bias and other initiatives focusing on the importance of diversity and inclusion. However, traditional learning courses are often seen as boring occasions where the company tries to force their ethics down the employees’ throats, and tend to be ineffective. Technology helps with virtual courses that could be comfortably taken at home, interactive e-learning, and life-like experiences that significantly boost the sense of immersion required to better empathize with and understand other people.
Encouraging Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a pivotal determinant of retention, engagement, and productivity. If your workforce doesn’t feel connected to your company, the distance between them and management can quickly become unbridgeable. While traditional employee engagement strategies such as social clubs and mentorship programs create excellent comfort zones for some people, they can easily become hostile territories for others that will fuel discrimination and exclusion.
Ethnical, demographic and gender differences that are discriminated against should be identified. For example, technology can help with appropriate solutions like analyzing text communication to detect biases and sentiment. The different employee experiences at work can be understood by techs that could listen to their feedback and identify themes and patterns that might indicate lack of inclusiveness.
Advanced engagement platforms such as Cultivate or Lattice Pulse can leverage AI and natural language processing (NLP) to measure differences in how a manager communicates with their employees. They can help measure employees engagement, and at the same time provide self-awareness to the managers to help them understand whether they’re acting inclusively or not.
Fairness in Recognition and Wages
An inclusive workplace must be, first and foremost, fair for everyone working in it. Inequality in treatment, wages, production bonuses, and payments always fuel unhappiness and discontent, especially when someone is perceived by their peers as privileged for who they are rather than for what they do. Wage gaps, disparities in employee benefits, unfairness in recognition for their accomplishments, are all issues that could be significantly eased with the inherent objectivity of machines.
Intelligent automation technologies such as cognitive bots can harvest and monitor data from numerous sources to reveal any gap in a company’s workforce with nearly no risk of bias or human error. Patterns that could lead to potential discriminations due to ethnicity or identity can be identified very quickly.
Rewards and recognition can be transparently distributed with reward programs and recognition software such as Nectar or Bonusly so that everyone can recognize each other for their hard work. This way, people who really deserve praise can be acknowledged by their peers in the most equitable and inclusive way possible, without fueling unproductive or mean-spirited competition and unfair behaviors. (Read also: The Best Paying Jobs for Women in Tech.)
Inclusion and diversity efforts are a responsibility that all modern businesses must embrace. Not only is a toxic and nondiverse environment unethical as it fuels inequities, but it is also a highly inefficient and unproductive way to run an organization. Modern techs will help us overcome all those invisible barriers that prevent us from reaching a true age of humanism. An age where all employees could be seen as true humans and measured only for their talents and abilities only, rather than for their gender, religion, or skin color.