Gender diversity is a business imperative that affects the bottom line, yet despite McKinsey research and the fact that businesses with diverse workforces financially outperform those who don’t, fewer than 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are female and women are still only earning 80 percent of what men do in the United States. How can companies committed to diversity push forward

One way is to prevent unconscious bias in hiring practices with a new “machine learning” tool inside the SuccessFactors HCM suite.

How can companies committed to diversity push forward?

“A topic like this requires conversation, and what it really requires is a community,” Patti Fletcher, Ph.D. of Strategic and Solution Marketing at SAP SuccessFactors said during a gender equity discussion at SuccessConnect 2016.

To Move Forward, Rethink What Diversity Means

SAP has made significant inroads in diversity and inclusion, particularly in the areas of gender intelligence, culture and identity, people with disabilities, and cross-generational intelligence, according to Anka Wittenberg, senior vice president, head of People Sustainability and chief diversity and inclusion officer at SAP, who spoke at the event.

From a gender diversity perspective, for example, SAP has increased the number of women in leadership positions by five percent since 2011, when the company committed to a goal of 25 percent of women in leadership positions by the end of 2017. The company currently has 24.1 percent women in management. And just recently, SAP became the first multinational technology company to achieve Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification for its leadership and activities to advance gender diversity and equality in the workplace. With programs designed to help foster and develop leadership skills in that target population, SAP isn’t just checking a box. It is finding ways to diversify talent from inside the organization.

SAP isn’t just checking a box, it’s finding ways to diversify talent from inside the organization

“We want both males and females to work together, to use their synergies,” Wittenberg said. “We want the uniqueness of every person — the authenticity — in the corporate world, because that’s what drives innovation …. and [helps us] understand our customers better.”

Bias in decision-making causes inequity, according to Steve Hunt, Ph.D., senior vice president, Human Capital Management Research, SAP SuccessFactors. Bias is inaccuracy, and eliminating bad decisions at any company is simply a better business practice. “It’s not only unfair, it’s stupid,” Hunt said, adding that this trickles down into recruiting talent. “If we know how to make better hiring decisions, we should make them. It’s not just about fairness.”

The Crucial Role of HR

In technology alone, Fletcher said women leave positions at a rate of two times that of men. HR professionals have the important job of finding and keeping qualified candidates with an eye on diversity. That’s why SAP has implemented a “talent-win plan” to keep a pipeline of diverse talent. When there’s a vacancy, the company doesn’t lose time with traditional recruiting processes.

“Before, everyone said we have to look for the specific talent,” Wittenberg said. “Now we have the talent there.”

Keep the Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion Front and Center

To drive impact in this area, HR and the business need to keep the dialogue open. As a part of SAP’s go-to-market strategy, business executives lead regional councils in APJ, Greater China, India, MEE, EMEA, Germany, Latin America and North America.

It works, according to Wittenberg, who stressed that technology has to support any initiatives put in place.

“We need the analytics, and that’s where our tools really come into place, [and it’s] something you can use because it’s business language,” Wittenberg said. “We need to support the business, enable it with business language and have them do the messaging.”

SAP SuccessFactors technology can help companies with the analytics they need to incorporate this business language into their larger strategies.

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