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Just over a year ago I was asked to dig into the topic of workplace diversity and inclusion, and where it intersects with HR technology.  As an HR practitioner myself, I was excited to engage in these conversations. Not unexpectedly, almost unilaterally the responses I received from analysts, CHROs, CDOs (Chief Diversity Officers) and HR professionals boiled down purely to robust analytics.  Don’t get me wrong, analytics are a critical component of successful change – we must measure where we started and how far we’ve come, or arguably how far we have yet to go.

As an HR technologist my conversations left me convinced we can do more. Measuring bias in the rearview mirror isn’t enough – we must get in front of the decisions that impact those analytics, interrupt them, and steer users towards equitable, inclusive options.

However, time and time again I am hearing that CDOs often feel like they’re left out of the decision tree on system configuration.  Investments in programs are the norm for CDO budgets. Yet, the real impact will come when inclusive processes and practices are embedded into the technology tools used daily by HR and the workforce they serve. While many CDOs have shared that their technology influence is limited to topics around accessibility, they are eager to increase their scope of collaboration and influence on technology deployment.

As HR technologists, it’s our responsibility to think beyond just the boundaries of data security and compliance.  We should be true partners to the business and configure our technology to align to the business’ goals, which often include D&I metrics.

I know the argument; I’ve made it myself.  You don’t have time for adding on any additional projects, you’re strapped, your system administrator is buried.  While this may feel true, I would argue that aligning to the organization’s diversity efforts is not an add on to your project plans, or an independent effort: There are three simple, key steps that can be incorporated into how we enable HR today:

  • We can configure our technology and elevate the discussions in implementation of the projects already in flight to include inclusive best practices.  Including D&I does not need to be net new work.
  • We can let vendors know when we see a problem with the application that can make a marginalized group appear excluded.
  • We can look for the little things such as imagery and available data selections such as including options for non-binary gender employees. Representation matters.

Over the last year we’ve shifted the conversation on this topic, and our customers are taking note.  We are excited about the changes we’ve delivered, and those coming.  We’re infusing this in our DNA and watching for areas we can influence users through smart, inclusive technology. I invite you to sit down with your CDO, have the conversation about their observation as an end user of your tools, and invite them to discussions where configuration decisions are made.

Join me at SAP Sapphire, or SuccessConnect 2017 and let’s talk about how HR technology can help your organization create a truly inclusive workforce!  I want to hear from you – your voice matters.

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