Technology is playing a vital role in making workplaces more inclusive and diverse. Learn the 5 ways companies are using technology for inclusion.
Technology is taking the world by storm. The world’s largest organizations have long relied on technologies like AI, ML, and Big Data for innovation and competitive advantage. However, beyond driving revenue, these very technologies are creating a positive impact on the lives of numerous people across communities, opening the door to greater equality.
A study by the World Health Organization and the World Bank found that nearly 1 billion people (around 15% of the world’s population) suffered some disability. Nonetheless, research conducted by the International Labour Organization showed that disabled people were two times less likely to be employed than their non-disabled counterparts.
Diversity and inclusion play a crucial role in the success of organizations today. A McKinsey report found that companies with more culturally diverse boards were 43% more likely to enjoy higher profits.
That being said, recruiting and hiring diverse employees is just the first phase of developing a more inclusive work environment. The real task is to create a dynamic environment where all employees have the opportunity to share their ideas and perspectives. In addition, technology can play a vital role as a unifier and source of information while offering workforce transparency.
When the coronavirus pandemic took over the world, forcing people to work from home, it was believed to present new opportunities for the inclusion of disabled workers. Additionally, COVID-19 demonstrated the long-term possibilities of remote work for more roles than previously thought. So, if the willingness to adopt new technologies continues to persist in the post-pandemic world, it could present tremendous opportunities for a previously unused workforce.
5 Ways Technology Creates An Inclusive Work Environment
#1 – Technology for Recruitment
Regardless of the industry or company size, the recruitment process is perhaps the most time and effort-consuming task for any business. However, it is also the first step to building a more inclusive workforce. The right technology can act as a magic wand that opens more opportunities for people with disabilities through a positive recruitment and onboarding process.
Technologies like VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) can be quickly immersed in a digital environment and could change how companies interview candidates, handle onboarding and job training and conduct ongoing employee development programs. The AR or VR training scenario will particularly help a person living with a disability that challenges social capabilities to practice social interaction in a safe environment.
For instance, a VR headset can be used by an employee with autism to give a presentation to a digital crowd, or an AR overlay can be relied on to interact with colleagues in real-time.
Positive interaction or initiatives to make the environment safe and reliable in the early stage of a professional’s journey demonstrates your business’s inclusive company culture. Furthermore, the integration of productivity technology helps you efficiently track employee achievements, encouraging your employee to demonstrate their skills and capabilities, regardless of their background, when applying for a new role or promotion.
#2 – Technology for Employee Training
Offering education and development opportunities to your employees can significantly improve their overall experience with your company. It would provide them with unique opportunities for personal development, professional skill-building, and definitely, diversity and inclusion training.
By integrating technology into the training and development part of your business, you can ensure that diversity and inclusion courses are offered to all employees. In that way, they get to better understand issues like unconscious bias and how to battle their influence in the workplace. Additionally, with technology, training can be offered in various formats, making it accessible to all employees.
Tracking employee training and development can also be a great asset in intra-company recruitment, particularly for promotions and managerial roles. A software solution that keeps track of badge or level-based training programs allows you to recognize employees formally for their skills and capabilities. Leveraging this data, you can quickly assess an employee’s suitability for promotions or transfers without the influence of discrimination.
#3 – Technology for Communication
Adding open and private communication channels into your business practices is a great way to turn your workplace more inclusive, secure, and efficient. Open, centralized channels are ideal to encourage communications between teams and allow employees in different positions to interact with each other. Such channels also make sure all employees feel valued and included in the business process.
Pair these open communication channels with private ones that employees can use to express personal concerns, particularly regarding diversity and inclusion practices. If an individual feels they are being a victim of discrimination at the workplace, they should feel confident in reaching out to relevant people for support. Offering them confidential communication channels encourages them, particularly those who are a part of minority groups, to report their concerns.
The latest technologies in the market include communication channels that highlight visual communication tools and inline translation features to remove language barriers in the workplace.
#4 – Technology for Employee Wellbeing
Employee confidence and well-being can make or break a business. Improperly managed diversity and inclusion practices lead to a hostile environment that significantly affects employee productivity. It can further result in large-scale dissatisfaction and even cause problems in employee retention.
Technology facilitates the proper management of diversity and inclusion through enhanced connectivity, employee training, eradication of bias, and the establishment of employee support channels. Collectively, they all contribute to the overall well-being of employees, offering them a safe and secure working environment.
Furthermore, centralized applications allow organizations to conduct well-being events for their staff. In the context of diversity and inclusion, this means hosting events like for example prayer sessions for individuals who practice a particular religion that require prayer at certain times of the day. Large-scale events like celebrating various religious or cultural festivals can also be conducted around holidays to offer employees an opportunity to take some time off work, relax, and celebrate various cultures.
#5 – Technology for Equal Opportunities
Lastly, shift management can use technology to remove bias and favoritism in decision-making. Employees can take advantage of swap shifts instead of managers manually coordinating shifts throughout the day. Any available shifts will be assigned based on the employees’ job title, skillsets, and availability, increasing equal access to shifts for all frontline workers. While a final review of shifts by the manager can be performed, every step of the process should be documented and easily auditable.
Are There Other Benefits Technology Can Offer Businesses?
The technologies that improve an organization’s diversity and inclusion game can also contribute to other areas pertaining to business success, especially productivity and logistics.
Centralized communication can improve employee flexibility, reduce the chances of understaffing, and enable efficient shift-swapping between employees. In addition, when employees have a channel to accurately convey their availability, scheduling becomes more manageable, and it can be done in a way that fits their needs.
Applications that are used company-wide can also track task distribution and completion, monitor efficiency, and identify areas where improvement is required. This facilitates the optimization of processes for high efficiency. Task-tracking applications can additionally be integrated with real-time progress reports to gain better insights into an employee’s performance and capabilities. This information can then be used to offer the right rewards for their efforts.
In simple words, integrating technologies into your business processes can drive diversity and inclusion, benefit businesses and employees, improve work environments, and create a confident workforce. Any negative practice, such as biases and discrimination, can be eradicated with new systems that offer information about staff capabilities and skills, regardless of their identity. Furthermore, enhanced communication not only ensures employees stay well-informed and connected but are also heard when they experience any sort of problems.
So, the benefits of technologies are pretty far-fetched and go beyond just diversity and inclusion. It can also improve productivity and efficiency and create a positive and thriving workplace.
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