Digital technologies are entering every aspect of human life. With it, exclusionary and biased outputs are also increasingly common, including biases and discrimination from AI-enabled systems.
There has been a rising demand for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DIE) in technology teams developing and deploying the technologies with which end users interact.
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A recent study conducted by the Capgemini Research Institute titled “The key to designing inclusive tech: creating diverse and inclusive tech teams” confirms the lack of inclusivity and diversity in technical fields.
The research was conducted on 1000 people working in the technological field. Of the surveyed people, 500 were women and persons of ethnic minorities globally and the other 500 were leadership executives heading large consumer-facing companies across nine countries. The research team also spoke to 5000 consumers, predominantly women and persons belonging to ethnic minority communities.
Though there are many forms of discrimination like exclusion due to sexual orientation, disability, race, age, education etc., in this research, the institute has dwelled on two forms of exclusion, i.e. exclusion due to gender and ethnicity.
While 85 percent of tech leaders feel that they have successfully provided an all-inclusive workplace, only 19 percent of women and ethnic minority employees in tech concur with their thinking. Only 16 percent of the surveyed people believe that they have been well represented on their teams. Most consumers surveyed were aware of tech-based discrimination in data and algorithms and have confessed to having experienced it first hand.
The study also noted that this perception gap between junior executives and the organisation’s top leadership was far narrower in companies that had a robust, inclusive and diverse work culture.
Why is DIE crucial for business?
A diverse work environment is an essential aspect of work culture today. To begin with, it helps in employee retention and engagement. According to a study, 83% of millennials believe it is essential, and they feel more engaged at work when they know the organisation they work for fosters an inclusive culture. Further, it gives the hiring authorities a more expansive sea of candidates to select the right person for a job. Such inclusive work practices create a ripple effect on revenue and profitability.
DIE also takes creativity & innovation to greater heights. An inclusive workplace means the company tends to be about 1.7 times more creative than its counterparts.
Practices for an all-inclusive work culture
The study suggested several practices for a workplace to be more inclusive:
- The opportunity for equal growth in the workplace.
- Providing employees with a sense of belonging, inclusion, and respect from their leadership and colleagues.
- Fast and unbiased grievance addressing system for gender/ethnicity-based discrimination.
- The comfort of employees to share their personal experiences and problems with leadership and peers.
- Trained and aware leadership for inclusivity.
For a technological company, the essential part of the business is to produce products that don’t have any bias ingrained in them. To make the product of a company inclusive, a few practices are suggested by the research:
- The thought of creating an inclusive product within the organisation throughout the product development process.
- Evaluating if digital designs and products are inclusive.
- Several levels of checks and balances to minimise ethnicity and gender-based exclusions.
- A certain level of end-user/consumer involvement in the design and development process of the product.
The organisation must reduce algorithmic bias by conducting an impact assessment analysis for algorithms and automated decisions and screening and curating datasets used to train datasets.