Technology may well be one of the most powerful tools business and HR leaders have in creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DE&I) organisations. The global social justice movement, increasing regulations, or even people feeling that it is the ‘right thing’ to do have all made DE&I a top business priority today.

Employing a workforce that is truly representative of the communities a company touches through its products and services may benefit the bottom line. In fact, research reveals a strong business case for DE&I initiatives that can positively impact employee culture, boost innovation and resilience, and even deliver tangible business benefits including higher operating margins and cashflow per employee.

Addressing unconscious bias

Unconscious biases, also known as implicit biases, are the underlying attitudes and stereotypes that people unconsciously attribute to another person or group of people, affecting how they understand and engage with a person or group. These stereotypes in our subconscious impact decision-making processes company-wide, and can lead to unequal and non-inclusive workplaces. For example, the universal lack of females in senior positions globally, regardless of industry and the gender pay gap, is largely attributed to unconscious bias.

Each step of the employee life cycle has the potential for unconscious bias, negating the most well intentioned DE&I targets. The talent acquisition process, for example, is the most critical in securing a diverse workforce, beginning with the job role definition. Inconsistent definition of job roles and the inclusion of non-essential requirements limits the candidates who will apply. People may self-select themselves out of the candidate pool because the language doesn’t encourage them to apply. To attract a gender balanced talent pool, make sure the position description has gender neutral language and the career site reflects inclusive messages and images.

For example, Terex Corporation, a global manufacturer in the industrial machinery and components industry, has put diversity and inclusion at the heart of its global talent strategy, using technology to bring more women, veterans, and other under-represented communities into their traditionally-male dominated workforce. The company created a dedicated landing page on its career site to showcase its Women@Terex initiative. Similarly, Tapestry, a global house of fashion brands, displays the various awards and recognition they have received for their DEI initiatives on its career site.

Prevent talent bias at the point of decision

Core HR and recruitment technology solutions, including AI such as machine learning, can address DE&I issues. AI-based software platforms that are both data-driven and taught to ignore traditional prejudices rely on algorithms that prevent historical patterns of underrepresentation. These platforms can support the full range of talent processes, including who to hire, and how to manage them, as well as development, rewards, and promotions. The objective is to detect and mitigate bias at the decision-making step. For example, SAP’s Business Beyond Bias initiative helps customers use SAP SuccessFactors to eliminate inherent biases around age, race and ethnicity, as well as differently-abled individuals, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Hero Group, an international food company committed to conserving the goodness of nature, relies on the creativity and imagination of its people to stay ahead of competitors. The Hero Group attributes the deployment of technology to support its performance and goals process as having “enabled us to establish an open culture that feeds our employees’ ambitions and supports their development– and ultimately drives our success.”

When it comes to compensation, team salary overviews can spotlight inequities and bias alerts with a calibration tool that analyses historical data, surfacing important information to managers, such as when an employee has not been promoted in over three years despite consistently high performance ratings.

Gaining actionable insights from analytics and metrics

As with any other organisational imperative, DE&I requires a structured approach and regular monitoring and refinement. Analytics reveal meaningful data that we might not otherwise detect. For example, it’s not enough to understand the composition of your workforce. A dashboard that brings together analytics can help managers visualize and forecast diversity trends, highlighting critical diversity metrics and the impact of leadership programs. Companies can create diversity scorecards to benchmark internal trends against external metrics such as industry, location, or other parameters. Pushing diversity data out to managers’ desktops, and providing data relevant to their daily activities at the point of decision through embedded analytics provides transparency and supports actionable insights down the management line.

HR technology is already helping organisations live and work by DE&I practices. Diversity is a reality, but equity and inclusion is a choice, giving business and HR leaders an important role in changing workplace norms for individuals, the company, and the entire community.

Find out more about DE&I strategies at the virtual HR Connect broadcast.

This article also appeared on SAP Brandvoice on Forbes