Diversity is a topic that most organizations are talking about. In modern business, it has become clear that diversity (of viewpoints, of backgrounds, of perspectives) is an asset for any company that plans on staying responsive to the challenges of modern industry. In fact, studies have shown that diverse employees can and do increase innovation in areas like research and development and strategy.
Here, we wanted to touch on diversity as a business strategy, and how AI impacts diversity strategies for businesses.
What Do We Mean When We Talk About “Diversity”?
Diversity is a complex term, but the generally accepted definition of diversity in a professional setting is the conscious and intentional set of goals, strategies, and practices that reshaping workforce composition to provide a more heterogeneous population. This means putting mechanisms in place to expand the hiring and promotion of minorities and women so that the makeup of employees more accurately represents the world outside of the company.
There are several benefits to such diversity goals:
- New and varied perspectives. “Perspectives” aren’t just different ways to look at problems. Real perspectives come from a variety of lived experiences, cultural influences, and economic challenges. Having a wealth of experience to draw from gives companies agility and responsiveness in their workforce.
- Increased focused on innovation. Innovation isn’t a technical thing, it’s a people thing, and you can’t have innovation without perspective. Additionally, having a diverse set of perspectives provides the opportunity for you to be innovative for markets and people that you never would have before. According to Josh Bersin, diverse companies are significantly more likely to innovate in their field.
- Improved agility in the face of challenges and obstacles. It may be obvious, but when you have a lot of diverse perspectives, you also have a lot of ways to think about the problems facing your organization. That means faster, more effective solutions for an agile and diverse company that can think outside the box.
The good news is that many businesses and industries are moving full steam ahead with their diversity goals. The challenge here is that a lack of diversity may not come consciously, but from inherent biases in hiring and promotion. That is why a lot of companies are turning to technology to help.
Utilizing AI for Inclusive Hiring
Business and talent strategies are built around the right people, which means that hiring and promotion are critical for any strategic goals. What leadership in many technology companies have discovered over the past two decades is that inherent biases in hiring were limiting the strategic horizons for many companies that wanted to innovate.
How did bias impact strategic thinking? There are a couple of key ways:
- It limited the pool of candidates. It goes without saying that biases in talent management will limit the perspectives and people in the company. And when strategy and innovation are about people, this is a net loss no matter how you slice it.
- It confuses what skills are important. It’s one thing to get a trained employee that has hard skills and degrees or certifications. It’s an entirely different thing to field a team of employees that have the soft skills, willpower, and creative thinking needed to innovate.
What AI has done is twofold. First, it has been deployed to reduce human biases in hiring and promotion by eliminating any implicit or unconscious focus on background, names, gender, or education. AI can be trained to look for patterns and skills that humans might miss.
Second, AI has recently been used as a testing tool. While employees might perform highly technical actions like mathematics or problem solving, an AI algorithm can track how they think, react, and respond to stressful situations to measure soft skills and stress management at the same time.
Where Do We Go from Here?
As AI evolves, so too does its application. One of the most exciting developments in AI is measuring human capital and productivity to help inform strategy.
Measuring human capital with AI may sound like science fiction, but the important innovation here is the delivery of actionable intelligence across multiple concurrent variables. It’s increasingly clear that AI can help quantify things like satisfaction, agility, productivity, collaboration, and other metrics that previously seemed the realm of human intuition.
Ai, then, does not take control of human capital but measures important metrics so that leadership can build real strategic thinking around it. And that includes building a diverse workforce.
The future of business strategy is going to be diversity, strategy, and agility. AI is the glue that we see holding these three together: by helping build and achieve diversity goals and utilizing those diverse perspectives to build real strategies on a day-to-day basis.
Diversity is Productivity
If it was not clear up to this point, diversity is about productivity. In fact, McKinsey reports that diverse organizations are more likely to out-earn their competitors who are not as diverse. Having diverse perspectives makes people more productive, integrated, and innovative in their workspace. You can pull from a variety of perspectives, and you are eliminating a source of bias that could be costing you some of the best talent in your industry.
Likewise, COVID-19 has highlighted the need for focus on resiliency in our workforces. A Catalyst report shows that a diverse workforce that works collaboratively can function better in high-disruption environments like work from home situations.
Knowing these facts, you can use technology and talent resources to empower your diversity goals. With new advances in strategic intelligence consulting, AI, and cloud platforms, such empowerment is readily available. It’s up to you, and your organization’s leadership, to invest in diversity.
Are you currently working on creating a diverse and inclusive culture for your business? We’d like to hear about your challenges, obstacles, and needs. Answer our simple survey and help us gather data on what modern professionals are facing when executing their diversity strategies.