How do we define diversity and inclusion? What is D&I technology and what solutions fall into this category? These are some of the questions we here at Mercer had to think carefully about before we began our recent study with RedThread Research — looking at the emerging market for D&I tech. How we defined these important concepts would to some extent guide our research, and there were many choices. Here is an excerpt from that report which reflects on the definitions we landed on, and looks a little deeper at the kinds of D&I tech we found:
What is diversity? What is inclusion? What is D&I technology?
- Diversity: The variation in backgrounds, attitudes, values, beliefs, experiences, behaviors, and lifestyle preferences with respect to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, age, mental and physical abilities and characteristics, sexual orientation, education, religion, socio-economic situation, marital status, social roles, personality traits, and ways of thinking.
- Inclusion: Acts or practices that provide an equitable and fair distribution of resources (jobs, income, opportunities, access to information, etc.). Such acts and practices enable all members, including those from underrepresented groups, to be respected and appreciated for their unique contributions and be fully integrated into the informal networks of an organization.
- D&I Technology: Enterprise software that provides insights or alters processes or practices, at the individual or organizational level, in support of organizations’ efforts to become more diverse and inclusive.
Unpacking D&I Technology Further
The new generation of diversity and inclusion software is different from older diversity-related technology, and deserved to be looked at a little more closely. That’s because its primary purpose is not to meet legal/compliance requirements, but rather to help drive systemic change in organizations.
Our focus in our recent research is on technology that specifically impacts people decisions. There are other types of technologies – for example, those that improve technology accessibility for the differently abled – that could fit into this definition but we did not include in our study because they do not directly impact people decisions.
Ultimately, we determined that there are three primary types of vendors offering D&I technologies today:
- “D&I Focus” vendors: These vendors’ primary business is helping organizations address their D&I challenges. An example of this is a vendor whose product focuses only on reducing unconscious bias during hiring.
- “D&I Feature” vendors: These vendors offer features or functionalities that cater specifically to D&I needs, but their primary business includes more than D&I. An example of this is a recruiting software vendor whose product can make all resume names/identifying information “blind” to minimize unconscious bias.
- “D&I Friendly” vendors: These vendors do not address D&I as their primary focus, and they do not market themselves specifically as doing so, but their features or functionalities could positively impact diversity and inclusion in organizations. An example of this is a recruiting software vendor who uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend appropriate candidates to hiring managers.