Back in March, I posted to LinkedIn what I thought would be a rather quickly forgotten question: what technology had others seen that focused on improving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in companies? The response was huge, with lots of people I had never met sharing how their company was using technology to tackle diversity and inclusion in ways that I had not even dreamed of. Clearly, something big was happening – so the question turned into a quest to understand this new market.

Today, I am thrilled to announce that we have ended the first phase of that quest with the publication of new research on D&I technology, Diversity and Inclusion Technology: Could this be the Missing Link?, which we, RedThread Research, have completed in partnership with Mercer.

Let me take a step back and tell you why I was even asking the question. Years ago, I had asked folks what vendors they used to help with D&I. Most people just scratched their heads, and said, “Huh? I don’t understand what you mean.” So, I went about my merry way working on a study that ultimately focused on D&I practices, with no technology component.

Fast forward to 2018. Post #MeToo. Post many public D&I mis-steps that cost executives their jobs and companies their stock prices. I thought, surely, now, there must technology focused on this space. But I just hadn’t read that much about it.

I started talking to a lot of people about this topic and found that it resonated with many of them. One of those people was Carole Jackson, a former colleague and current Principal at Mercer, focused on their When Women Thrive research. We found a shared passion for this topic and we agreed to partner on this research to bring a heightened understanding of the D&I technology market to both vendors and customers.

So, what began as my simple question ended up turning into a quest to find as many technology vendors focused on D&I as possible and to document who they are and what they do. Why? Three reasons:

1)     This market is exploding with new vendors – Our study has nearly 100 in it (and that is in just this first phase of the research) and many of them have only started within the last 3 years. Given this, organizational leaders need to better understand the innovative technology solutions available and technology vendors need to see where opportunity for new products and solutions exists

2)     D&I technology has the potential to be a disruptor – Structural biases hide in our processes and behaviors, and applied correctly, D&I technology can enable scalable, consistent treatment of people decisions while also alerting users to previously-hidden patterns of bias. That said, our glasses are not so rosy as to blind us to the potential limitations and even detrimental impacts of D&I technology.

3)     Too little information is available on the market – The folks over at Gartner have written a report on this topic, but not everyone can access that. Further, focusing on the question of “If There’s Too Much Diversity Tech?”, doesn’t give folks insight into the range and capabilities of D&I technology. We wanted to do an in-depth study that would help vendors and buyers truly understand the market.

To that end, our study answers five questions:

1.      What is D&I technology?

2.      Why are D&I technologies coming to market right now?

3.      What are the benefits and potential risks?

4.      What types of D&I technologies exist?

5.      Who are some of the players in the different D&I technology categories?

Today’s publication marks the conclusion of phase one of our efforts and is a qualitative study that summarizes the D&I technology market landscape. It also includes an interactive market map tool that allows readers to quickly understand which vendors are in the market. Phase two of the research will be a quantitative study on the state of the D&I technology market, which will be published in January 2019. That study will be based on a vendor and customer survey, customer interviews, and the feedback we receive on this report.

If you are a vendor in this space, we ask that you complete our survey so that we can include you in the January report. If you’ve already completed a survey for us, THANK YOU! We also ask, though, that you go to the survey link as we have some additional questions for you (don’t worry, you won’t have to answer the old ones, too!). For all vendors, we would also love it if you would send the survey (www.danditech.com) to your customers.

If you are a corporate leader who uses or is simply interested in D&I technology, we also ask that you complete the survey – there is a special section just for you! We want to know about what type of technology you’d like to buy or are using currently, your experience with existing technologies, and your buying criteria for the future.

We hope you enjoy this first phase of the research – let the conversation on D&I technology begin!