Embracing Technology to Support DE&I Initiatives

There is a growing body of research and evidence supporting the business case that organisations embracing a culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) thrive while those that do not are consistently disadvantaged.

A long-term study by McKinsey & Company indicates the business case for DE&I is stronger than ever. For diverse companies, the likelihood of outperforming industry peers has increased over time with the penalties getting steeper for non-diverse. Their study shows that companies in the top quartile for executive team gender diversity were 25% more likely to experience above average financial performance than their peers. A more positive outcome is expected with respect to ethnic diversity, with those companies in the top quartile for executive team ethnic diversity 36% more likely to experience above average financial performance than their peers in the fourth quartile.

Workplace equity and inclusion, therefore, is not only the moral thing to do, it provides a strategic and financial advantage. The good news is that recent advances in technology provide new ways to assist organisations in their efforts to make their workplace a more diverse and inclusive one.

According to data from research firm, RedThread, DE&I technology has experienced a rapid increase in investment. It is estimated the overall market size for DE&I technology in 2020 was USD 313/GBP 244 million following two years of compound annual growth of 59%. The number of vendors offering these services has also increased 87% since 2019. These DE&I technology providers could assist in building best practices, changing behaviours, gaining insights and making recommendations that address bias.

For staffing firms, embracing such technology might be useful for their own internal DE&I initiatives but, importantly, can also be harnessed to support their client’s efforts as well. SIA’s own research shows that, beyond the flaws in permanent hiring, DE&I is often overlooked completely when hiring contingent labour (temporaries, contractors and freelancers). And just as McKinsey found, SIA’s analysis showed that those firms that were proactive in applying DE&I to their contingent hiring experienced superior outcomes across all examined factors. 

New technology can play a vital role in eliminating the barriers to success through the provision of diversity data. Lack of data seems to be an initial stumbling block for many organisations meaning that it is impossible for their strategies to be monitored effectively. An increasing number of solution providers offer DE&I analytics such as Humanyze, Affirmity and BiasSync to name just a few. Benchmarking data is readily available, with Gapsquare providing people analytics software that streamlines pay analysis and highlights pay disparities, offering a free tool to calculate mean and median gender pay figures and highlight the proportion of male and female employees by quartile pay bands.

Used appropriately, technology can also play an important role in candidate discovery. This includes online job advertising providers such as job boards that focus on minority groups. For example:

  • Evenbreak helps inclusive employers attract and retain disabled candidates
  • Work180, a job board for female jobseekers provides an opportunity for employers to clearly demonstrate their commitment to supporting women in the workplace. Jobseekers can compare employers’ benefits and assess which are the most suited to their needs based on equal pay, flexibility, parental support and diversity
  • The Diversity Dashboard an online diversity jobs board that works as a conduit between employers and talent
  • The Mom Project helps women remain active in the workforce and boasts Serena Williams as a strategic advisor. An estimated 43% of highly skilled women leave the workforce after becoming mothers.

Another area where technology can be used for better equity and inclusion is in relation to candidate engagement. Interacting with candidates by phone, text message, video call, email or in person needs to be conducted in a way that eliminates bias. Recent technological advancements such as the use of artificial intelligence have led to better outcomes regarding culture, employee engagement and inclusivity. For example, Mya offers an AI recruiting assistant with conversational artificial intelligence (CAI) which provides insights and a true understanding of candidate profiles in an unbiased manner.

Throughout the entire candidate experience commencing with analytics and benchmarking, to candidate discovery via sourcing automation tools, candidate assessment and verification there exists a multitude of technology providers ready and willing to impart their knowledge and technology offerings in order to assist organisations in their DE&I goals. Given the important intermediary role that staffing firms play between employers and jobseekers, understanding and successfully deploying such technology is a growing area of competence and competitive differentiation.


This article has been provided by TEAM Service Provider – Staffing Industry Analysts

Founded in 1989, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) is the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions. Our proprietary research covers all categories of employed and non-employed work including temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labour. SIA’s independent and objective analysis provides insights into the services and suppliers operating in the workforce solutions ecosystem, including staffing firms, managed service providers, recruitment process outsourcers, payrolling/compliance firms and talent acquisition technology specialists, such as vendor management systems, online staffing platforms, crowdsourcing and online work services. They also provide training and accreditation with their unique Certified Contingent Workforce Professional (CCWP) programme.

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