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Why now is the time for technology to enable Diversity & Inclusion

By John Kostoulas | May 24, 2018 | 0 Comments


I joined Gartner almost two years ago. Very soon, I had to choose a topic for my first research note, not an easy task when you are so brand new to the job. I asked my new colleagues for advice, and one of them was emphatic: pick a topic that is near and dear to you. I had just completed a program on data-driven decision making to contain bias and promote diversity; combine this with my coverage area (human capital management technologies) and my first note was born. This note was advising HCM vendor Strategy leaders about why D&I was important to pay attention to.

Fast forward 18 months, this first note had to be updated. A lot of things has happened ever since, underlining the need for D&I to be a business priority: equality issues at technology companies, the #MeToo movementincreased regulation around D&I reporting. More employer network organizations have stepped up to organize corporate focus to get D&I right, such as CEO Action and enei. And these organizations are growing fast. The body of studies suggesting that D&I is not just the right thing to do – it also makes business sense – is growing too. Organizations need to execute D&I programs, which cannot go very far without use of technology.


Credit: San Antonio Govt.

What progress have technology vendors made in these 18 months? Things are moving faster, of course. But not as much as the business importance of D&I requires. So far, D&I enablement is hardly seen in the HCM applications market as an inherent theme of the product roadmap, or part of the thought leadership behind people processes.

The current vendor landscape of HCM applications supporting D&I consists of three main categories:

  • An increasing number of startups is introducing artificial intelligence applications, mainly in talent acquisition and analytics. These applications focus on increasing the diversity of the candidate talent pool, decision-making augmentation for hiring decisions and better understanding of the inclusiveness of the organizational culture.
  • A large number of vendors offer features with potential to support the D&I agenda, but few actively position them as such. Examples include employee communications, standardized interviews, panel assessments, learning catalogs/recommendations, performance management models, compensation benchmarks and onboarding features.
  • A small number of suite vendors is making D&I a distinct element of their roadmap and have started delivering applications across the different functional areas.

For all these reasons, the new version of Three Reasons Why D&I is Important for your HCM Product Roadmap (Gartner client access required), which just got published, went back to the drawing board. First of all, it got a fresh pair of eyes through the contributions of my colleague Jason Cerrato. Secondly, it now addresses Product Management leaders and focuses on what features need to be part of a comprehensive D&I support roadmap at a more granular level, also stating their current maturity among vendors.

Of course, this is not the end of the road, we have more exciting research on D&I coming very soon. Meanwhile, I would love to hear thoughts from HR and other practitioners about current technology enablement around D&I; particularly experiences and early learnings from its application in your organizations.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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