Back in March 2018, 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'd never met sharing how their company was using technology to tackle diversity and inclusion in ways that I'd not even dreamed of. Clearly, something big was happening – so the question turned into a quest to understand this new market.
We've ended the first 2 phases of that quest with the publication of our research on D&I tech, Diversity and Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market, 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'd 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.
Post #MeToo. Post many public D&I missteps that cost executives their jobs and companies their stock prices. I thought, surely, now, there must be 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 document who they are and what they do. Why? Three reasons:
- This market is exploding with new vendors – Our study has nearly 100 in it (and that's in just this 1st 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.
- 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 tech.
- 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 tech. We wanted to do an in-depth study that would help vendors and buyers truly understand the market.
To that end, our study answers 5 questions:
- What is D&I technology?
- Why are D&I technologies coming to market right now?
- What are the benefits and potential risks?
- What types of D&I technologies exist?
- Who are some of the players in the different D&I technology categories?
This report is a both qualitative and quantitative study that summarizes the D&I tech market landscape, based on a vendor and customer survey, customer interviews, and the feedback we received. It also includes an interactive market map tool that allows readers to quickly understand which vendors are in the market.
THANK YOU! To everyone – practitioners and vendors alike – for participating in this research! We hope you'll continue to be part of the D&I tech conversation going forward!