Diversity and inclusion are important points of discussion across all industries, rightly a target for many businesses in 2022. Diversity refers to the presence of various features, cultures, languages, histories, backgrounds, and perspectives existing in society. Inclusion builds on diversity, describing recognition of the benefits in understanding and utilising diversity as an asset instead of a hindrance. Through implementing robust diversity and inclusion practices in a business, there is the potential for increased creativity, an improved work environment, a better reputation, and overall increased productivity. Studies have revealed that less diverse companies are consistently outperformed by their more diverse counterparts. Inclusivity generates overall better profitability, rate of return, and business performance.
How can technology support diversity and inclusion policy in the workplace?
The clear benefits of an inclusive workforce make diversity and inclusion vital to business success. Through implementing improved logistics and productivity software, businesses can significantly improve their work environment for employees of all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or language, particularly in recruitment, employee training, communication, and wellbeing.
Diversity and inclusion in recruitment
The recruitment process is often time-consuming and challenging for businesses, regardless of their sector or scale. Better technology allows businesses to create a positive recruitment and onboarding process for new employees, providing them with the necessary documentation and training remotely, whilst also granting them access to the relevant communication channels. This remotely accessible documentation can include information concerning the business’s diversity and inclusion practices and the relevant contact details if the employee requires additional help or reassurance. Positive interactions early in an employee’s professional journey demonstrate the business’s open and inclusive company culture.
Integrating productivity technology can also provide more accurate tracking of employee achievements, allowing employees to more clearly demonstrate their skills and capability – regardless of their background – when applying for a new role or promotion within the company.
Impact of technology on employee training
Education and development within employment can vastly improve the employee experience, providing unique opportunities for personal development, professional skill-building, and diversity and inclusion training. Through the integration of new technology into training and development, diversity and inclusion courses can be provided for all employees, encouraging a better understanding of issues such as unconscious bias and how to combat their influence in the workplace. Training can be provided in accessible formats to meet the needs of all employees.
Tracking employee training and development is also a significant asset in intra-company recruitment, especially for promotions and managerial roles. Updated software accommodates the inclusion of badge or level-based training programs, where employees can be formally recognised for their skills and capabilities. Through this data, companies can easily evaluate employee suitability for transfers or promotions objectively, without the influence of bias or discrimination.
Technology in communication
Including both open and private communication channels in business practice helps create a more inclusive, secure, and efficient workplace. Open, centralised communication channels foster better connections between teams and allow interactions between employees holding different positions in the business. These open channels ensure that all employees feel included and valued. They can also facilitate the organisation of company-sponsored social events, emphasising employee appreciation and creating the opportunity for bonding and company-wide inclusion.
These open communication channels must be accompanied by private communication channels that can be accessed if employees have personal concerns, especially when focussing on improving diversity and inclusion practices. If any employee is experiencing discrimination, they must feel confident in reaching out to the relevant contacts for support. Providing confidential communication channels where concerns can be reported and addressed are reassuring for employees, particularly those who are part of minority groups. They must be easily accessible to all.
New technology also allows communication channels to include visual communication tools and inline translation features to ensure that language does not become a barrier in the workplace.
Improving employee wellbeing
Employee confidence and wellbeing is crucial to productivity. Inappropriately managed diversity and inclusion practices can generate dissatisfaction on a large scale, negatively impacting employee wellbeing and even driving issues in employee retention. The correct management of diversity and inclusion through improved connectivity, employee training, the removal of bias, and the provision of employee support can be assisted through technology. Collectively, this benefits the overall wellbeing of employees, providing them with a safe and secure working environment.
Centralised applications also provide the opportunity for the organisation of wellbeing events that are hosted and supported by the company. In the context of diversity and inclusion, this can involve offering events such as prayer sessions for employees practising certain religions that require prayer at certain times of the day. Larger events celebrating different cultures can also be hosted around significant events or holidays, providing employees with opportunities for relaxation and celebration and relieving them from work-related stress.
Equal opportunities for work
Technology-based shift management also offers an opportunity to remove bias and favoritism from decision making. Employees can apply for or swap shifts without the need for manual coordination by a manager. Available shifts will be offered based on their title, skill-set and availability, which increases equal access to shifts for frontline workers.
Final review by the manager is possible, but every step of the process is being documented and easily auditable.
What other benefits can technology bring to businesses?
The new technologies benefitting diversity and inclusion practices can also improve other areas of business – particularly productivity and logistics. Centralised communication channels also facilitate efficient shift-swapping between employees, improving employee flexibility and lowering the chance of understaffing. Employees also have the means to accurately convey their availability so that scheduling can fit their needs as seamlessly as possible. Company-wide applications can additionally track task distribution and completion, monitoring efficiency and identifying areas where improvement is required. This allows for the optimisation of processes for peak efficiency. Real-time progress reports can be integrated into task-tracking applications to gain better insight into the accomplishments of individual employees – information that can then be used to provide the appropriate rewards for their efforts.
Overall, the integration of new technology into diversity and inclusion practices brings significant benefits to both businesses and employees, improving work environments and creating a confident workforce. Negative influences such as biases can be avoided, with new systems providing information on the abilities of employees regardless of their identity. The provision of diversity and inclusion training can be easily facilitated on a company-wide basis and new employees can be given the correct diversity and inclusion information during the onboarding process. Improved communication can ensure that employees are not only well-informed and connected but are also heard when they are experiencing any problems that need to be resolved. The benefits of these technologies also extend beyond diversity and inclusion to improve productivity and efficiency, combining to create a positive workplace.