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New DE&I Tools Emerge

Two business people sitting at a desk with papers and a laptop.

​As corporate leaders commit themselves to increasing their diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts in the wake of last summer's Black Lives Matter protests, technology vendors are launching software tools to help HR managers better identify gaps, generate insights and take action.

One interesting feature of these new solutions is that they allow for experiential data to be gathered from surveys and for operational data to be collected from human capital management systems, observed Laura Becker, research manager at IDC, a market intelligence firm in Framingham, Mass.

"This is all new," Becker said. "We have talked in the past about reducing bias in hiring and creating a diverse workforce, but this goes a step further to look at equity and parity across the entire employee life cycle journey. That is a new way to look at the DE&I of an employee's work life."

With this in mind, several tech companies are betting that their DE&I-focused solutions will be in demand in the coming years.

"There is definitely a need for tools that help companies understand where they are in terms of the inclusion experience, but more importantly they want tools that tell them how to improve that inclusion experience," said Farren Roper, head of DE&I at experience management company Qualtrics.

With co-headquarters in Seattle and Provo, Utah, Qualtrics launched its DE&I solution in February. The software comes with prebuilt question sets and guides backed by a methodology that helps HR managers and other company executives understand inclusion and belonging in their company.

The tool delivers real-time insights that show what processes contain bias and where to close DE&I gaps for employees across their teams. Users can customize the software, which can be embedded across current employee experience programs or run as a stand-alone platform.

Additionally, HR managers, executives and others can connect the Qualtrics DE&I solution with human resource information systems to bring operational data and employee directories together with their DE&I programs.

Users can benchmark progress, noting their inclusion score and what it should look like over the next six or 12 months. Qualtrics has also partnered with global consulting firm Korn Ferry to further integrate DE&I programs throughout a customer's organization.  

Another company jumping into the DE&I software arena is Medallia, a San Francisco-based customer and employee experience management company. 

In January, Medallia announced a DE&I solution that provides employee feedback collected through video, audio and text. The feedback helps companies gauge their employees' views on leadership, culture and internal policies, which in turn helps employers identify where improvements need to be made.

Becker believes Medallia's partnership with people analytics firm Visier can help clients understand the bigger picture and ensure that minority employees receive equal opportunities throughout their time with their employer.     

Enterprise cloud application provider Workday is another tech company that has released DE&I products. Last September, the company announced two new offerings: Value, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity (VIBE) Central and the VIBE Index.

VIBE Central helps HR managers centralize diversity and inclusion data in Workday's human capital management software. The VIBE Index leverages Workday Prism Analytics to integrate external datasets such as employee sentiment survey data.

Executives from the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company say the VIBE Index measures belonging and equity alongside diversity and inclusion across the work life of an employee at a company. 

The VIBE Index uses intersections—a combination of different elements of a person's identity that could include race or ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual orientation—to examine the full employment lifecycle. The index also includes a parity and equity evaluation.

While these tools offer opportunities to provide an in-depth analysis of the work experience and performance of minority employees, Becker said these tools can only help companies succeed in their DE&I efforts if:

  • Companies view these tools as action platforms that uncover bias and discrimination and require decisions to correct the inequities they find.
  • They use the technology to build a culture of belonging, engagement and loyalty through empathetic leadership.
  • There is a strong commitment from the CEO and the senior leaders to follow the data and make the right decisions based on the data's findings.

"Just saying we have a DE&I technology platform is not enough," Becker said. "If you don't have the alignment within the organization and the commitment to prioritize and act on what the data shows, then the benefits of the technology won't be realized and there will be lost opportunities."

Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami.


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