How to Use Technology and Analytics in Diversity and Inclusion Hires

How are companies making use of technology in their diversity and inclusion hires? A study by RedThread Research conducted with Mercer looked at the challenges driving the adoption of technology, evaluating the inherent risks and benefits of adoption and what companies were expecting to achieve in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) space.

The top success measure for D&I products is reportedly employee engagement, but most D&I technology solutions are not designed to directly influence engagement.

Why is there a need for such a system? Several studies, including a 2018 McKinsey report, suggest that D&I can drive better business performance. Fortunately, HR now has the tools it needs to initiate such activities — with the emphasis on having some kind of yardstick.

Enter Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst for RedThread Research, who identified three primary reasons that employers should consider when adding inclusion analytics (IA) to their D&I strategies:

  • People: Inclusion analytics allows employers to “understand people and their perspectives at a much more nuanced level” than traditional diversity analytics, Garr says. Through IA, organizations can get a feel for whether employees are connected to one another, can measure the strength of bonds within teams and can identify areas of the organization where employees are struggling to feel valued or find meaning in their work.
  • Processes: The approach can also help companies identify unfair and potentially biased systems and practices. Inclusion analytics, Garr says, can highlight if certain groups of employees have better access to development opportunities and promotions and if performance management scores and feedback are unfairly skewed by demographics.
  • Predictions: Inclusion analytics can be a leading indicator for organizations looking to build better representation data—to ensure their workforce adequately represents the broader population. When employers have a better understanding of inclusion—such as what’s driving promotions, employees’ intent to stay or their behavior—they’re better equipped to make predictions for the future in order to achieve the representation numbers for which they’re striving.

There are reportedly two primary approaches to inclusion analytics. The natural first step is looking at perceived inclusion, which involves capturing employee perceptions at a personal level about what inclusion within the organization looks like to individual employees. 

This can be built out to include objective inclusion—a much less common approach but one that Garr says holds significant opportunity for HR. Objective IA can include analyzing succession lists, response time and tone of emails, wellbeing data to identify burnout, performance scores, invitation rates for meetings, hi-po lists and more—all with attention to disparate impacts on certain demographic groups.

Organization shift

Beyond these strategies, Garr suggests embedding inclusion analytics throughout the entire company to begin shifting the organization’s mindset.

Much of the progress on inclusion initiatives has been painfully slow, though. Things like unconscious bias and other diversity training efforts, mentoring and sponsorship were all focused on the behavior or understanding of one person.

Another issue was the lack of energy from leaders. Leaders are gradually understanding the business imperative for a diverse organization at all levels, and are beginning to realize that building an inclusive culture means also addressing bias as a systematic problem.

Talent areas

So far, though, there is is support for D&I technology in talent management

Here are four specific talent areas worth looking into for global mobility professionals:

  • Talent acquisition: Includes candidate sourcing and candidate selection
  • Development/advancement: Includes learning and development, mentorship and career management, performance management, high-potential selection, and leadership development
  • Engagement/retention: Includes employee experience, employee communications and employee voice
  • Analytics: Includes D&I analysis (eg. D&I dashboards and pay equity), D&I business case analysis (e.g. data that shows the return on diversity and inclusion investment), and employee resource group (ERG) management and analysis

Here’s a few benefits of using D&I technologies, according to myHRfuture :

  • Implementation of a more consistent, less-biased and scalable decision-making process
  • Increasing the understanding of the current state of diversity and inclusion across the entire organization, using both traditional and new metrics
  • Measuring and monitoring the impact of efforts designed to improve D&I outcomes
  • Raising awareness of bias occurring in real-time at the individual level and enabling a range of people to act on it