How can technology help in building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Sudhanshu Ahuja

October 22, 2019

The last couple of years have seen a singular focus on diversity and inclusion in this highly-volatile business world. And for good reason. A diverse and inclusive workforce can improve profitability and deliver better business results. Besides, it can drive a company’s innovative strategies and give it a competitive advantage. This is the reason why all the major financial hubs like London, Singapore, New York, etc. have outperformed other urban cities. They enjoy extraordinary diversity as their population is a mix of different ethnicities and nationalities. Such a diverse mix brings enhanced creativity and economic results to these cities. Boston Consulting Group surveyed 1700 organizations in 8 countries and found that diversity is picking up fast in the business world. They also found that companies with diverse management teams earned 19% higher revenues as compared to those with homogenous workforces. Apart from achieving outstanding business results, organizations also view diversity as their way of giving back to society. Salesforce was the first to lead the pack when it appointed its first Chief Equality Officer. The motive was to give unadulterated focus on creating a diverse workforce and removing all kinds of biases.
  • What is diversity?

    Workplace diversity refers to the practice of hiring a mixed workforce with employees belonging to different races, nationalities, genders and ages. It also means not discriminating employees based on their sexual orientations and disabilities.

    Diversity also means valuing different perspectives, experiences and knowledge bases. It is these differences that can pave the path for a company’s innovation and growth.

    However, hiring a diverse set of employees is only a part of the strategy. The bigger challenge lies in making them feel comfortable and valued in the larger scheme of things.

  • What is inclusion?

    Inclusion refers to developing an environment of acceptability. It is valuing each person’s opinions and abilities. Inclusion also refers to creating a workplace that is free of any discrimination. The aim should be to encourage the employees to participate and contribute to their full potential.

    Diversity and inclusion is a top-to-bottom strategy and must percolate from the top management. In recent times, it has become a key priority for business leaders. As per a study by Mckinsey, diverse companies outperform their industry by a huge differential of 35%.

  • How can technology help create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

    Technology and AI are leading workplace innovations and more so, in HR. In this data-driven business world, technology has become the backbone for an effective and efficient HR department. Let’s look at how it can enhance the diversity and inclusion initiatives of an organization.

    • Eliminating Recruitment Bias – The biggest challenge of creating a diverse workforce is the bias that comes from the hiring managers. There are good chances that these biases are subconscious and they warm up to applicants who they can relate to. For instance, they could favour a candidate who belongs to their state or share the same political views. Since the interview process is largely subjective, it may be difficult to eliminate such prejudices. Technology-powered hiring tools can help in eradicating this issue. Firstly, these tools can scan a pool of applications and find the most perfect matches for the job. Secondly, video interview software can assess the candidates without any biases. Thirdly, chatbots can give behavioural insights about the candidates. These tools can flag any potential problems in the early stages of the hiring process and also make the entire process more effective.
      Having workplace diversity also gives an added advantage of higher offer acceptance. As per a survey by Glassdoor, this was an important criterion for both active and passive candidates.

    • Better Communication – When it comes to promoting diversity, employees need to know that they are being valued. They need to know their problems are being heard and that their ideas are not being shot down. It is only then that they will participate, come up with creative ideas and give innovative solutions. Technology can help in listening to their problems and understanding their motivations. Besides, digital spaces can help in the exchange of ideas and creating an inclusive environment.

    • Pay Parity – Gender pay disparities have rocked the entire business universe in current times. While some renowned business giants have come out and spoken about their internal pay gaps, the issue is more deeply rooted. To build a diverse workplace, it is crucial that every individual’s efforts are appreciated and rewarded appropriately. Data-driven tools can analyze and monitor the pay scales and flag such inconsistencies. Secondly, there are tools that study market data to understand the right salary ranges. This can help in eliminating pay scale differences between genders and ethnicities. However, technology can only give insights and patterns. Diversity initiatives can survive only when a cultural transformation is brought about.

    • Talent Management – One of the most crucial HR agenda is talent management. Right from figuring out the next line of managers to creating a succession line, these discussions can span over days. The biggest challenge is to not rely on gut feeling or letting internal biases come into the picture. The employees must be duly rewarded for their performance and potential. AI can analyze the data and give data points for crucial decisions.

  • Diversity and Inclusion is the way forward for organizations if they want to stay ahead and increase their profitability. Technology can play an important role in achieving this leadership agenda. However, the key is to bring a cultural change step-by-step. Although it has to come from the top, the role of middle management must not be neglected. After all, it is they who are involved in all the decisions ranging from hiring to promotions. They can become true change-agents towards building a diverse environment.

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