What are the limitations of relying solely on technology to cultivate an enjoyable, inclusive culture in the remote work era?
How can technology help drive diversity and inclusion?
Technology is a key enabler of diversity and inclusion. Not everyone realises it, but it is. We’ve known it at 5app for a long time. Partly because we understand technology’s potential to bring people together, to enable them to collaborate and communicate and feel engaged with their work and their workplace.
And partly because of our research and insights, gained from regular conversations with customers and people in the marketplace. Time and time again we hear the same stories from people about their workplace experience:
- People feel disconnected from the company and its goals
- People are unsure where to go to find the information they need
- People feel they are not supported in their development
When people feel one or all of these problems, engagement levels fall. They don’t feel connected with their organisation and the employee experience (EX) suffers. And people don’t feel that they belong or that their contribution matters. Diversity and inclusion and the employee experience are inextricably linked – it’s hard to talk about one without talking about the other. It’s only by providing a great employee experience that you enable people to feel that they belong, that they are working in an inclusive environment, somewhere where they want to give their best, where knowledge sharing is strong and communication flows.
Fortunately, increasing numbers of employers and HR/L&D teams recognise this and are looking for technology solutions that will help them create a more diverse and inclusive environment and a more positive employee experience.
What research tells us about the role of technology and D&I
This quote, taken from a collection of Deloitte Insights articles on diversity, equity and inclusion, makes clear the vital role that technology plays in improving D&I: “As companies strive to elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as an organizational core value, CIOs and technology executives play a critical role as strategic partners by designing, developing, and delivering technology to address increasingly complex DEI priorities. Technology leaders recognize the importance of building inclusive technology cultures that foster engagement, collaboration, and belonging that reflect a diverse technology workforce and deliver value.”
Inclusive technology cultures
The words ‘inclusive technology cultures’ stand out here. That’s what we like doing at 5app – creating inclusive technology cultures, where people feel that they belong, where they are connected to their colleagues and to the organisational purpose. One of our customers, Greystar wanted to foster a learning culture through the 5pp platform. It used 5app to reach out to and connect with employees and after just 12 months, the company was reporting some great results:
- 89% of the workforce accessing the learning
- a 90% increase in understanding of Greystar goals and objectives
- a 90% improvement in performance and productivity
- a 35% reduction in the likelihood of employees leaving the company
It’s results like these that are making business leaders, HR, L&D and IT leaders, sit up and think about the role that technology plays in improving D&I in their organisation. They realise that D&I isn’t just an HR thing – it’s also a tech thing. In April 2021, Forrester released a thought leadership paper called The Changing Role Of The IT Leader: Driving Business Resilience Through Adaptability And Employee Experience. The report found that the employee experience has become such a key issue that improving it is now a top priority for 41% of IT leaders.
The employee experience and diversity and inclusion are such hot topics that 5app is hosting a webinar called How Technology can Help Implement an Effective Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Taking place in April, the webinar follows on from the previous webinar How to Define an Effective Diversity and Inclusion Strategy in a Changing Workplace. This second, tech-focused webinar brings together a panel of experts to discuss topics such as how learning leaders can facilitate a diverse and inclusive environment and what technological tools learning leaders can use to implement and measure an effective diversity and inclusion strategy.
Diverse and inclusive environment
There are two elements to this really. Firstly, there’s creating a diverse and inclusive environment. To achieve this, you need to give employees the right platform, tools, resources and content to enable them to work and learn effectively wherever they are – whether they work in the office, at home, or a mix of the two. The hybrid work model is growing in popularity and every organisation needs technology that enables the entire workforce to work and interact seamlessly from any location. You want your technology to connect people, to help them share knowledge, to collaborate and communicate effectively with another. And you want it to help them learn. All of these things are vitally important for improving engagement and providing that important inclusive technology culture.
You also need your technology to give you insights. Are your goals to improve diversity and inclusion being met? Where are things going well? Where are they not going so well? Last year, 5app launched its D&I Hub to help organisations with this aspect of D&I. The 5app DEIB Hub drives engagement in a number of ways. It surfaces issues, events and learning content that help build an inclusive culture. Powered by 5app, it also provides comprehensive analytics and insights. As with any strategic initiative, you need to have the right processes and tools in place to enable you to collect, measure and interpret data.
According to the American analytics and advisory company Gallup, organisations have to have three key elements in place if they are to improve D&I in the workplace. Those three elements are:
- Leaders can create the conditions for meaningful progress on DEI outcomes
- It requires examining the employee experience through a DEI lens
- DEI strategies need the right metrics and processes to sustain change
It’s that third element that we are talking about here – the right metrics and processes to sustain change.
Hemsley Fraser, for example, another of our customers, knows exactly how many assets its workforce are accessing and when. It knows when employees are using 5app, what for and when engagement levels are high. And it knows what content people like and what corporate messaging is on target.
The Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement have heightened awareness around the inequities in society. Now is the time to act on D&I because it really matters to people, on a personal and a professional level. It also makes good business sense. Learning guru Josh Bersin has long looked at high performing organisations and what makes some organisations more successful than others.
A recent piece of research focused on EX and found that there are six important principles. One of them is an analysis of the EX technology architecture. If organisations want to deliver on EX – and it’s a business imperative rather than a nice to have – then they need to use technology to best advantage. You need to build that all important inclusive technology culture.