Q&A Call: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Technology

Posted on Sunday, March 7th, 2021 at 4:04 PM    

Q&A Call Video



Stacia Garr:
All right. So we're going to go ahead and get started. We did have a smaller acceptance for today. So maybe just be us, but that's great. So really for the sake of the recording, cause I know most of you here I'm Stacia Garr, I'm co-founder of RedThread Research were a human capital research advisory membership, and we focus on a range of things, including most relevant for today, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and HR technology. So what we're going to do today is to just give a few of the findings from the research, and then I'm going to let Priyanka do quite a bit of that. And then we're going to answer either the questions that you have here, or we also have a few questions that were submitted in advance. For folks who are maybe new to this conversation, this is a conversation. It is very informal. And the idea is really just to give a chance to to get your questions answered or to have a good discussion about this topic of DEIB technology. Okay. Priyanka, do you want to move on?

Defining DEIB

Well, okay then I'll move ahead with just setting the stage up. So what I want you to do very quickly was just share a few definitions of how we define our concepts, these concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. And I'll just give everybody about 20 seconds to read them because they're slightly longer for me to read them on for everybody. So if you want to just stick a second and then we'll move ahead with this.

DEIB became a bigger priority in 2020

Priyanka Mehrotra:
And moving on. So just setting the stage of why you're talking about DEIB this year, of course we know DEIB became a very crucial topic in 2020 for various reasons. COVID-19, BLM movement, social justice movements, natural disasters, everything just kind of made the DEIB so crucial in 2020, and we have this data here from Glassdoor, which showed us that there's been such an immense rise in DEIB job openings in summer 2020 and 250%. That's crazy. And we can see the lines moving right after social justice movement gained momentum in the summer of 2020. And as we can see, like in December 2020, it's just completely shot up higher than it had ever been before. So when you think about the role of DEIB tech, there are a few things why we think it's so crucial and what is it that it can actually do.

The role and types of DEIB Tech

Priyanka Mehrotra:
So a few things that we wanted to highlight, what is it that it can do for us? And it can uncover bias in policies, practices, and programs. It can help us identify gaps between goals and actions. It can make recommendations on what are the steps that leaders and organizations should do next, and it can analyze data and information for greater insights. So keeping these things in mind and looking at the technology that vendors are offering in this market, there were a few things that we noticed about the types of tech that we typically tend to see in the market. We decided we divided them into three types that we majorly see. We have the DEIB focused vendors where their primary business is focusing on DEIB. That's how they go to market. Then we see the DEIB feature venders their primary business might not be DEIB.

DEIB Tech market in 2021

Priyanka Mehrotra:
They might be going to market with something else, but they do have features and additional capabilities that directly address DEIB. And then we have the DEIB friendly vendors who maybe going through market for totally different reasons, such as the recruiting software, but they, for example, they might have artificial intelligence that can be used for DEIB purposes as well. So looking at the DEIB market in 2020, 2021, what are the major trends that we saw during our study, one we saw an overall growth in the market. We saw a major increase in HR tech vendors in general offering DEIB features that part of the solution. So the DEIB feature vendors that I just mentioned before. We saw a major increase in the number of vendors who are offering these capabilities as opposed to DEIB friendly or DEIB focused vendors.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
We saw greater focus on inclusion and the impact of AI on mitigating bias. So we've traditionally focused on diversity for so long, but inclusion really came into being in 2020 and 2021. Last, we saw evolution of emphasis from gender to race and ethnicity. So during hashtag me too movement, that was a lot of focus on gender. In 2020 we saw that shift towards race and ethnicity really come into its own. And people analytics for DEIB has arrived that's what we saw in a big way in our findings. And so I'm just going to touch on all these points at a very high level.

Stacia Garr:
Sorry. Do we want to ask if anybody has a high level question on any of those five before we dive in?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yes. Thank you Staica.

Speaker 1:
Not for me. Very straightforward.

A more steady evolution

Speaker 2:
Question Priyanka. So you say there was a shift from gender to ethnicity and race. You refer to the, me too, as a, as a, let's say a movement or a trend. We have the Black Lives Matter. Is, is this like really sensitive to societal evolutions? Is that what you see and might change again? I mean next year, if another topic comes on the political agenda or is it a more steady evolution?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
I think I would say it's been a more steady evolution. We definitely continue seeing gender as a very important part of what DEIB tech vendors are providing as part of their offerings. But we also started seeing some Venders include race and ethnicity as part of, for example, the service that they're providing for that customer. So race becomes a part of it and intersectionality became quite important and became quite common. We started to see more and more vendors offering that in the way that the customers can slice the data and see how they can create groups. So for example, I know Visier offers a cohort analysis in which you can create any type of groups, right. And you can create groups that have different attributes and you can compare them. So, so we started seeing more and more vendors really bringing those capabilities into their solutions. Stacia, did you want to add anything?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, so I think I mean gender has been a common focus largely because it's something that is you can focus on globally. There aren't as many differences in terms of what you can study or look at as race. I would say though that this, the movements of this summer, and I wouldn't call them political movements. I mean, I think they're very much social movements, at least in the United States. They were response to what was happening. That doesn't mean that there wasn't already, in there certainly is a deep problem that was existing. But I think, but it was a reaction. I will say though, and I've been kind of contemplating this and I don't have any data to prove it, but I, wonder if there was a greater willingness to focus on race, which has been a very difficult topic, certainly in the United States, a greater willingness to focus on it because it was immediately following the pandemic where we had kind of in, in some ways, softened ourselves up to say, we don't have all the answers and our executives, our leaders were saying we don't have all the answers.

Stacia Garr:
And they'd kind of gotten into a habit of, of saying that for three months. And then we have these massive protests in, in this movement. And so I think that there was just a greater willingness than we've ever seen for people to say, Hey, you know, maybe what we thought was happening, wasn't happening, maybe what we thought, you know, that we were more inclusive and yet it seems like maybe we weren't. And so I think there was that greater openness, but I think, you know, your, your question Speaker 2 kind of says, okay, well you, if we focus on race and ethnicity here in 2020 and 2021 and maybe 2022, is there going to be something else in 2023? I mean, I think potentially, but I think that that opening of the aperture to focus on more diverse groups and folks who haven't had that spotlight, if you will, on their experience is probably a good thing. I think we're going to see in general, more of that opening of the aperture.


Speaker 1:
And actually on that topic. Can I ask a quick question in terms of the role that you see regulation playing in this, obviously in the UK with gender pay gap reporting, obviously, you know, drives a requirement and adoption and awareness in the market. We're starting to see, you know, the emergence of regulation taking place in some markets, but specifically in the US do you guys have a particular view on the likelihood of the emergence and proliferation of regulation?

Stacia Garr:
I would say don't have a particular point of view. I may think that we're, we have seen regulation in general it has, we have seen movement. So I think that, you know, that there's one aspect of it that can certainly be positive. Obviously though, you know, regulation can be a very heavy instrument to use for some of this. So I don't know that I have a particularly strong perspective. But I do think that the, the opposite in the regulation or, or, you know, fear of legal repercussions has had a chilling effect for decades on this space. And so I think that there's a way to think about that, that kind of cuts that way, too, in terms of, you know, how could we actually be encouraging these behaviors in a way that isn't, what's the carrot in this, as opposed to just the stick. But all that said, I think that a lot of this is just, is being driven by employees and, and by customer demand, you know, you look at Edelman Trust Barometer, and what they say in terms of what they expect of leaders to do. And, you know, they say, I think it's 67% of America, or maybe I think actually it's 72% of Americans expect their CEOs to take action on societal issues, particularly related to diversity. So I think that that represents just a bigger shift in, in the society.

Speaker 1:
Yeah. And actually you touched upon something which is going to be a follow-up question, which is really about the complexities of the US legal system, about a liability, once you identify a problem, and that is a hurdle or an obstacle to organizations wanting to better understand where they may have bias, let's describe it as that and the risk that, that creates legally around exposure and liability. I didn't know if you guys have a view on that, is that, that as a, stifling factor and adoption.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, we do. And I'm going to let Speaker 3 go though, because I know he also a strong perspective here

Speaker 3:
I have a perspective, which is sort of changing the piece, which is around what you're suggesting Speaker 1, which is the SEC disclosure regulation change. The SEC disclosure regulation change means that a investor could sue a company if there is any material loss due to some kind of harassment social injustice element coming out. So, you know, we find out that X, Y, Z company has been underrepresenting or underpaying or in any way, shape or form disadvantages, a group their share price goes down. If an investor holds that and that, that hasn't been disclosed, that hasn't been kind of presented, then they can potentially say, you should have known this was a material problem. You didn't, you didn't disclose it. I'm going to sue you for nondisclosure. It hasn't happened yet.

Speaker 1:
It's almost like double stick. Then there's a stick waiting for you. If you identify a problem, there's a stick waiting for your, you died.

Speaker 3:
Yes. Yeah. And people are working at which side of that. They want to be on. It's a good thing.

Speaker 1:
The biggest stick. Okay. Thank you, Speaker 3. I appreciate it.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. And then I think the other component of this is folks are weighing the reputational risk with the legal risk. So kind of beyond the risks that Speaker 4 was talking about, but, you know, there's so many organizations who have just been on the wrong side of it because consumers are now taking action. You know, we're, we're seeing broader social action against organizations who are not responding to this. So I, you know, I've been, I feel like I've been saying this for a few years, but I feel like there's almost a grace period right now in the eyes of the consumer where it's like, okay, you know, tech's probably not going to have a great balance of men and women. Right. Okay. Like, let's acknowledge that, but let's do something about it. And I mean, my guess is that if in five years, if we haven't done something about it, consumers will hold companies to much greater account. Whereas right now it's kind of an acknowledged reality that I think that maybe the consumer will be, or customer will be a little bit less likely to hold people account for it, if there's action.

Speaker 1:
Okay. Thank you.

Stacia Garr:
All right. Priyanka you want to keep going?

A growing market

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah. Okay. So real quick, we can touch upon all these key findings that we have here? So a growing market, we saw the overall market size grow to over 300 million since 2019, the total number of vendors went up 296 from 106 that we had identified in 2019. Similarly, the compound growth rate grew by almost 60% since 2019. So a significant growth definitely more solutions with DEIB features.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
So like I mentioned, we saw more and more technology, HR tech vendors who had not traditionally been in the space or had been going to market with a different value proposition, adding DEIB features or capabilities to them. So we saw an increase of 10% of DEIB features, right? As DEIB friendly venders, we saw a decrease of almost 9% and similarly DEIB focused vendors, we saw barely a growth of 1%. So definitely there's, there's a shift in mindset of a lot of vendors who traditionally have not had not been thinking about DEIB in a very specific manner, but adding now DEIB specific feature capabilities and going to customers to allow them to meet these needs and challenges.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
So another key finding of course, was the growth the shift in focus towards inclusion. So in 2019, we know intrusion was still a priority for leaders, but very few were actually measuring it. And now as a researcher, I, when I looked back at the Sylvia, I wish that we had asked people how they were actually measuring inclusion, because I'm really curious to find that out, but it's still great to know that it used, the inclusion is the top measure of success. When we asked vendors how customers measure their success from, from using the solution they said that the increase in inclusion is the top measure. And this has gone from being fourth in rank in 2019. So that's, that's a significant shift that you're seeing.

People Analytics for DEIB has arrived

Priyanka Mehrotra:
The next key finding was of course, my favorite one, which is people analytics for DEIB has arrived. You know, we've been talking about analytics for DEIB for such a long time, and it was great to see an increase of almost 20% which as a, as a primary challenge in vendor, among vendors, who we're looking to solve DEIB related challenges to analytics for their customers. Again, I think this is a very significant finding. We saw a number of analytics, people, analytics vendors who have added DEIB features and capabilities. It goes back to our point of seeing a rise in the DEIB feature venders. So really coming into this field of providing analytics and using that for, for DEIB challenges. So with that, we've covered the key findings and we'll move on to the questions. Stacia, Ready?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, let's do it.

What should users consider before buying new DEIB Tech?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
All right. So the first question we received was what should users consider before buying new DEIB tech?

Stacia Garr:
I think it's like any other tech, right? So, what is your overall goal that you're trying to achieve? What's your overall strategy, that you're working towards and, where does the technology potentially fit within it and how does it reinforce and enable other practices? So, you know, I think that is, that is always question number one. Question number two is around, I think the level of expertise of the vendor instead of supporting this type of work. So there are some vendors who've been focused on DEIB for a long time and can help guide folks through some of the legal intricacies. Like we just discussed in some other aspects. There's some who are relatively new to this and, and, you know, innovation is always welcome. But, but that may be what you're getting more than kind of the expertise.

Stacia Garr:
And so we think there needs to be a match between what the organization needs and the support it needs and what the vendor is able to provide. And then I think, you know, third is always kind of where what's the match between the vendor themselves and in the organization. He knows some organizations are smaller and, and thus, you know, maybe more nimble, other organizations are larger and perhaps it better able to scale. So again, what are your organization's needs? And what's the ability to absorb that type of culture and, really status of the vendor. So those would be my top three.

Benefits & risk of DEIB Tech

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah. And I would add to it. So a few things that we had highlighted in our report is as with any technology, you really have to understand what are some of the benefits of using it, but also some at the same time, what are the risks that come with it? And of course DEIB technology being, being in the space that it plays, and it's really, really important that users before they adopt it, understand some of the benefits of doing that. So just at a very high level, just going through some of the benefits that we see of using DEIB technologies, of course, providing equal opportunities for everybody raising awareness and real time, enabling individual actions, as well as on a broader level, providing insights in critical decision-making moments, creating more consistent processes, measuring and monitoring impacts of efforts to analytics, of course, and signaling importance as well as building trust and confidence.

So those are things, of course they're not exhaustive, but some of the really important benefits that somebody can reap out of DEIB technology provided it's done correctly and applied in a thoughtful manner. And of course, these come with their own sets of risks, such as legal and reputational risks, like Stacia talked about being seen bias and data. And now of course, people who create those technologies, the biases can creep in from that as well. They maybe don't end up being excused themselves. It may also lead to big brother fears, unintended consequences may in fact, end up damaging employee trust and creating a disconnect between people and processes. And again, similar to benefits, of course, that are additional risks, then I'm sure we haven't listed here, but just some key things to keep in mind before looking at purchasing such tech.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
I think Stacia already covered this, like really being thoughtful about where you are in your journey. What is your level of understanding of the DEIB issues? What are the specific goals that you're wanting to solve for and how much support will you need from the vendors similar to what Stacia said, whether it's big enough to support your organization needs, do you have international headquarters? Will they be able to provide you support at all hours of the day? So all those things, I just think that to keep in mind when going to the market, and of course, another thing that we really want to highlight is auditing in-house techs or a lot of companies, or a lot of vendors may already have DEIB tech features and capabilities like we mentioned, and your customers may be using them for something totally different. So for example, Workday and SAP, need to be that we piloted all have recently introduced really crucial DEIB features that people, the customers who are already leveraging these technologies for some other purpose, might be able to use for DEIB as well.

Speaker 1:
Well, ask a related question. And it's more about, you know, corporate adoption and who's championing adoption of those technologies within the organizations. So, you know, if you think about the range of DEIB technologies, whether it's a pay equity solution or whether it's a solution that deals with using AI to remove unconscious bias from, you know, the, the talent acquisition process, you know, it can obviously serve specific functions within HR broadly, right? So, you know, you could be serving a solution that takes out bias in the recruitment process to someone in the talent team, you know, pay equity could go to a reward specialist then obviously separately, you've got DNI specialists now come into organizations where we look, when we look at where organizations have truly champion and adopted these technologies, what's that pattern look like? Is it very fragmented based upon, you know, kind of specific functional focus or is it, HR departments taking a more broad view of how these technologies knit together to solve a problem? Does anyone have a view on that?

Stacia Garr:
I'll jump in and then I'd love to hear other folks' perspective as well, but in general, right now, it's still pretty highly fragmented. I would say generally speaking, the exception to that is when you have a CEO who, or, you know, C suite executive, who's very strongly driving this. And then in that instance, you may have, you know a DEIB council or some sort of centralized group, you know, basically often a kind of a tiger team that's been tasked with figuring out how do we solve this problem and what are the, all the different ways that we could approach it. So when that happens and that's when we'll just tend to see a centralized approach, but otherwise right now it does often tend to be, to be centralized. Priyanka and I actually next week are kicking off a report on DEIB and analytics.

Stacia Garr:
And, and one of our key questions there is kind of what does that partnership look like and who should be driving? What part of that focus, because, you know, there certainly is an onus on whoever's leading DEIB, but a lot of times they're just not in the, in the depth, in the weeds enough to kind of know where this tech sits, what it could do and how it could tie back. So I think that there really is a good question around ownership that that needs to be solved, but to your, to your direct questions cut. I think that it, it depends, but is mostly fragmented.

Speaker 1:
Do you know, what's really interesting about that. Of course, it's really about where the money is in the organization. So I asked the question because, you know, we ask ours have you know, an excellent DNI specialist. That's really helping drive awareness and a change in our practices across the organization. But, you know, she doesn't have much budget, right. Yet we've got large talent teams that do hold large budgets because they're out there working with recruiters. And, you know, so it's also about finding where the dollars are to support these initiatives within organizations. And I think that is also fragmented as well, right?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, it is. Now I think the thing that's interesting is I think that there can be almost a immediate reaction to say, well, we should have kind of some centralized group that's driving this because that would create greater order, et cetera. But, you know, diversity is one of those things where, you know, if not everyone in the organization is participating where everyone is a part of the solution, you know, then, then it's not going to work. So that centralized model that we use in so many other things, I think doesn't necessarily work. So I think that part of the question is, is how do we heighten the overall awareness? So that the talent leaders who do own that budget are saying, Hey, wait, we have a role here. What could we be doing? And taking a lead, what do others think?

Speaker 2:
Yeah. Well, what I see here in the Benelux is that if it's centralized and it's because there's a clear nonfinancial risks for the company. So if the CEO or there's executive takes ownership or wants to be a sponsor, then it's because there's a real threat because there's value in it. And it's like Priyanka said, you know, in five years customers will hold companies accountable for that. And I see in some industries, companies moving faster, banks, I serve a lot of banks. They for instance, are very much aware of their nonfinancial risks and their reputation also due to the financial crisis, etc. So they're sort of heading that movement now quite unexpectedly, I would say. But it really depends on, I think the value they can see from it or the risks they see from not doing it.

Speaker 2:
And then whenever it becomes relevant, then all of a sudden it does get on the agenda of everyone. If I talk with, with companies about, you know, HR and a big serving, all of a sudden in every company, we get the DNI responsible on the table. All of a sudden this is a person with teeth, whereas before it was a person with posters, let's say, now it's become a person on your team. It's like the data protection officer, the DNI person. Yeah. It gets more and more powered.

Stacia Garr:
Think I might borrow that from posters to teeth.

Speaker 4:
I love that.

Stacia Garr:
Speaker 4, you're going to add something.

Speaker 4:
I love Speaker 1's questions. I think it's quite, it's quite fascinating and sharing something that we were seeing we're in the analytics space. So there's some element of centralized understanding of opportunities, scale challenge. So we have a lot of people, people like leaders working with the DEI leaders that kind of go, well, where are we? What do we need to do? What are the opportunities? And then one of the big things they're looking at is like, what can the CEO say as a forward looking statement, as somewhere we're going to try and hit. So you need analytics, horsepower, you need DEI sponsorship, you need the executive, but to your point, Speaker 1, that the DEI lead doesn't have the money to go and buy a technology that will help tell an acquisition.

Speaker 4:
They kind of need brought into the conversation to say, you know, our funnel is actually our biggest problem, or our attention is our biggest problem. Like the, the analytics is kind of at the hub of that, which problem piece of the problem space to be solved first, but DNI doesn't have the budget without analytics. People are often, you know, fixing different pieces of the bus with different technologies because they're trying to help.

Speaker 1:
And you know what, that's a really interesting point. Now, I, you know, this, this is almost like a, you know, you know, when you get told in school, there's no dumb question, but you know, that there really is. I worry that this is one of those. And I just, whenever I think about this topic, I think about cause and effect, and I think, you know, from what I've encountered, there's lots of solutions that are looking at analyzing the effect, but it's really about how do you then tackle the cause. And actually when you start,

Speaker 1:
And obviously that's a very complex answer because there's, it's multi-dimensional, but, and so of course you, there isn't one solution that helps you to drive that change. It's about culture is about process, about lots of different things. So, you know, the reality is you will probably string together a number of solutions that will help you tackle cores. But again, how do you knit those together? How do you measure the extent of that response as being effective or not effective? And so I just, you know, to me that that's an open area or an open question of how do we tie cause and effect together and how do we help organizations understand that better?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. I don't think that's a silly question at all. I think, you know that's kinda the question at the, at the heart of all of this, you know when, before anyone implements one of these solutions, you know, one of the things that I talked to them about is, you know, what's success look like? You know, what's the needle you're trying to move. So is it, is it different behaviors? Is it actually representation? I actually tried to discourage the latter because it just takes so long to measure. You know, ultimately of course, that's, that's what most are focused on and hoping for, but but being, you know, clear what, what those measures are, and then you know, to the extent that you can being scientific about it. So, you know, adjusting the job descriptions. Let's say somebody wants to use tech steel or something like that.

Stacia Garr:
You know, do we see any meaningful impact on, on just, you know, the, the number of applicants? Okay, well, let's do it. That's kind of one thing that we, we can measure you know, then interviews, lights, you know, making sure that we have diverse candidates on there as well as diverse interviewers now. Okay. Measuring those behaviors, does that result in any, you know, higher percentage of, of hires, of diverse backgrounds, ect. So I think, you know, being purposeful about the way that you're approaching it, and then being very clear on, on the behavior or the kind of intermediary outcome that you are trying to drive long before you get to representation. I think that can be, can be helpful in understanding that cause and effect much better. But I think, you know, like so many of the things that we do in the analytics space, it's basically a series of ongoing experiments that we're running and trying to see which things are, are impacting what, and then continuing to stick with those things. Once we find some areas of success. But they're great questions, Speaker 1.

Stacia Garr:
Anybody else have questions? I know we've got some other folks on the line who haven't spoken up, want to make sure we give you an opportunity or you can put things in chat too, if you are in a non-talking mood or you know, for whatever reason. All right Priyanka. Why don't we move on? What other questions did we get?

How can analytics be leveraged as part of DEIB Tech?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah, so I was going to say it almost sounded like a perfect segue to our next question, which is about leveraging analytics as part of DEIB teck and how that can be done.

Stacia Garr:
Oh, well, I feel like I've kind of gave an answer just now. So I'd love to hear, I mean, we've got a couple of folks from analytics vendors on here. So maybe I'd love to hear a little bit of your guys's you know, quick view of how you've seen folks leveraging analytics and most effectively. So Speaker 3, do you want to maybe lead off?

Speaker 3:
I am on mute. My, my little microphone button was not paying attention to me. The thing that we've seen kind of consistently is that that analytics has driven the strategy. Just to share a story of a large food manufacturer you work with. They'd had a diversity program underway on the hiring side of things for a really long time, but their representation wasn't moving. And it was when they engage with the analytics team. They're like, well, that's because we're hiring people and they're leaving as fast. And then they dug underneath the data to find out as a, why are people leaving so fast? I mean, I've had like an, a subsequent question around the tech. I see a lot of focus going into, Oh, diversity is a problem. We just gotta hire differently. It will be fine, which I think is a natural instinctive reaction.

Speaker 3:
I also don't think it works. So I always think of an organization as an ecosystem. One thing that's true about ecosystem, there are new levers, there are shapes and influences. So the analytics helps by understanding if I move this, what else moves? It's not, I'll move this and only this, cause it's not an engine, it's an ecosystem. If I move this, what else moves do I end up with more exits? Do I end up with mobility? And so, you know, I think the analytics helps by really understanding where are the two or three places to Speaker 1's point? Like where do you put the technology and the dollars to actually move the needle? And that's, that's what we're seeing. And again, we've got a number of customer stories that are, they're doing some good stuff on that. That's, that's our perspective.

Stacia Garr:
Thanks Speaker 3. Anyone else have any other any other thoughts they want to share?

Speaker 4:
Hi, this is Speaker 4. Just a quick question, I guess, to the group. I recently read a report that I thought was really interesting. I've had a lot of conversations with clients about diversity equity inclusion, and oftentimes it's focused on hiring, Oh, we just need to hire more people. And that's probably the hardest way to move the needle. And recently saw a report that talks about internal labor market analysis. So to your point, Ian, looking at the impact that you will have from all three things, so hiring promotion and then, you know, retaining folks as well. Just curious if that's been a part of the conversation. So first doing the analysis of are you hemorrhaging people, are you promoting people and what's the effect there, and then also the impact of hiring so that companies are looking at it across the board, as they seek to have a more diversified workforce, how they're actually going to accomplish that. I feel like technology allows, you know, more companies to kind of pinpoint on each one of those things. And trust me, I understand that within my work, that information lives in four to five different systems. And that's usually the problem that none of these systems talk to each other. But just curious to hear from you all, if, if you've seen that come up now more than often than before?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. I'll take a first whack and then let others jump in. So I think so as Priyanka had mentioned a little bit ago, the top success measure that we're hearing folks hold vendors accountable to now is inclusion. Whereas two years ago it was the hiring to the diversity of the talent pipeline. And I think that that's a, a reflection, two things. So one is to your point, that recognition and Speaker 3's point as well, that you can't only hire your way out of this problem. You have to actually be able to retain people. And, and that means that you need to be focusing on inclusion. The second thing is I think that with everything that happened in 2020, one, we saw a lot of organizations obviously pull back on hiring. And so it wouldn't have made sense for hiring to be in the pipeline to be the metric that folks were focusing on.

Stacia Garr:
And then too, with the social justice movements, I think the awareness that inclusion was not working for everyone in the way that maybe people thought it was a heightened people's awareness that they needed to be focusing on inclusion. So I think that we're seeing that shift. The question is though, and Priyanka also mentioned this, is how do you measure inclusion? You know, you mentioned internal talent markets, is…you know, people's or access to some of those opportunities and their ability to move within an organization, a measure of inclusion, potentially. You know, there is people's perception of their inclusion as measured by and engaged, you know, maybe on an engagement store or dedicated inclusion and belonging study. Yes. You know, so, I think that right now there's this grand exploration of all the different ways we might measure inclusion and think about holding ourselves accountable for it. And there's certainly no one definition of what it is, but there is a heightened awareness over two years ago, for sure that we need to be focused there. How about others?

Speaker 4:
It's a really interesting perspective because I do, I definitely agree, but working with clients, I'm hearing them talk about inclusion from the perspective of what's happening within our organization and less so as they're thinking about talent acquisition. And so trying to understand how we move the needle to get clients, to think about this from a technology standpoint, from an analytics, because I feel like that's the most positive impact that we can have. To say it's not necessarily for them, it still isn't necessarily about inclusion. It's how does the diversity landscape within the organization, how does our diverse workforce mean that we're actually hitting a marker? So for example, let's say that Dell has a 2030 initiative where they want to hire 40%. They want their workforce to be 40% women in senior leadership. That's still the kind of data points that you're seeing out in the sphere.

Speaker 4:
And so while they're having conversations about inclusion from a workforce perspective, there is still this idea of how do we diversify our workforce. And I feel like, yes, it's hiring, but it's also promotion. And it's also, what's the experience that's happening within your organization. So people aren't leaving because what I'm also hearing from a lot of clients is that their diverse workforce is leaving in droves. And as they are going through the talent acquisition process, they're having more diverse candidates decide to not move forward with the process. So in one case, a client said it's now 50% of their diverse candidates that are declining an offer at that stage.

Speaker 4:
I feel like the analytics is a part of it because I feel like there is a piece of not understanding what's happening in your organization. That then feeds the top of the funnel. Because if you understand how things aren't working for your people, then the way that you're talking to new audiences and how you're adjusting the culture of your organization, not just from a diversity perspective, but the entire culture then begins to shift and I'll get off my soap box.

Stacia Garr:
It's great. It's great. Yeah. I mean, I think that for the most progressive organizations from a DEI perspective I think they've figured this out. So in my head I'm thinking of like a General Mills, right? Like General Mills is kind of an, it isn't a non traditionally diverse location. But they've been focused on diversity for years and years and years. And it is part of their conversation when they're having people go through the interview process and then when they're onboarding new candidates, it's just kind of in, in the water, if you will. And so, you know, the folks like, General Mills understand this connection. I think that you're talking about, you know, we actually have to have an inclusive environment and we have to go talk about it to our candidates.

Stacia Garr:
And that has to be part of why they may want to join. I think, you know they are definitely in kind of the top level of maturity when it comes to this. And so I think that we're starting to see an awareness as I said, of, of the importance of inclusion broadly, I think that we're probably talking about the top 20%, 25% who are making that connection between, okay, we actually now have a much more inclusive culture. We at least can talk about inclusion in our culture in a meaningful way and tie that back to talent acquisition. So that would be my observation is, you know, we're still talking about probably 75% of companies who are not doing it, what do others think or have seen.

Speaker 4:
I have a couple of stories from clients are doing exactly what Speaker 4 is talking about. Again, it was driven by the same notion that Dell is putting out a number that, you know, they're making a public statement to Speaker 1's point around what's different now is that people are having to be transparent about their progress and then sort of validated on that progress. So, you know, the driver was, if we're going to put out a number, how do we know we're going to get there? So they looked at the internal path. They recognized that their representation overall was good, but it was not at managing, you know, supervisor managerial director levels. And so the very first decision they took was actually to change the opportunity for progress inside the business, before they look to do anything external, they recognize that if people coming in we're not seeing team lead supervisors that represented them, that was not likely to be a successful strategy. So they've actually chosen to change. And this is, this was three different organizations I talked to, they, they all focused on that internal mobility aspect first because they saw what was going on in their data. So I actually think there's, you know, potentially a very, very interesting study on like, how do you move the needle?

Stacia Garr:
That'll be after DEIB and analytics. Does anybody else have any questions on this one?

Speaker 5:
I do have a question around, have you done any work on sort of mapping the maturity of organizations, so on the client side, in terms of where they are on that journey and does it influence the type of vendors they're choosing, whether it's those that have got kind of completely focused on DEIB or those that have just got their established elsewhere in their organization, but have features and functionality?

Stacia Garr:
Hmm, that's a great question. We have not, when I was at Berson, I ran a big study on DNI maturity when we did a big maturity model. And did all of the things that you're supposed to do in terms of, you know, testing the impact on financial results in the like. What was kind of interesting at that time though, was that actually was the beginning of my interest in DNI tech, because when I asked people what tech they were using, they're like do you mean e-learning, it's like, no, that's not what I'm talking about. But so at that point, we certainly didn't see it. And I haven't run another maturity study to look at this, but I would say that, and this is just completely off the cuff. So excuse me, be the messiness of the thoughts, but I think that when we first see organizations looking into this, it's often a point solution.

Stacia Garr:
So, for instance, Textio is a, is a good example because it's a very clear use case. It's clear who the owner is. It's a, you know, a recruiter, a talent acquisition organization. Okay. We're going to fix our job descriptions. Okay, this is something we can pretty easily get our head around it's well scoped, etc. I would say that organizations who are newer to this space are more likely to buy something like that because it's very clear and the business case is clear. I think that the more sophisticated organizations, they're probably using that, and they're also, you know, looking at the more sophisticated beginning their, their analytics journey. So they may be looking at some of the more sophisticated analytics tools, like, like a Visier. But you know, they may not be doing some of the more sophisticated analytics.

Stacia Garr:
I think that then assuming that they've been able to use that technology to identify where their real challenges are, then we'll start to see kind of a more nuanced and sophisticated buyer of some of the other technologies. So they might be looking at you know, some things like organizational network analysis. So how are, you know, different populations connected within the organization, and how does that reflect inclusion? So you can kind of see how they would build in terms of their understanding and their willingness to go into some of the more nuanced aspects of the tech and what it can do. That's again, just kind of off the cuff of my thinking on what we would see. But I'm certainly curious to hear what others would think.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
I think maybe I can just add something to that point, is that one of the questions that we did ask in our survey of the vendors was, what is your customer organization size. And what we typically have tended to see, I don't have the numbers here, but I can share it with you later, is that more majority of our vendors reported customers who were smaller, had small number of employees. So under a thousand, I wanna say, so it doesn't necessarily reflect the majority, but of course, I think what it does show is maybe that smaller organizations are more open and willing to try these technologies for DEIB purposes than maybe more established and enterprise size organizations. So that might be something helpful.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. But I think what's interesting about that. Priyanka is, is we saw an increase in what was it, the organizations that were five to 10,000 over a couple of years ago. And so I think that we're seeing an increase, in certainly size and I think that it reflects the maturity of the solutions and probably a maturity of some of these organizations as well.

Speaker 1:
Would you mind if I ask a related question? Obviously sitting here in the UK I have a little bit of a sort of restricted view generally from effort by country, you know, what are the markets that really adopting this? I get a sense. So US are significant adopters, as well as the UK. Are there other hotspots around the globe where certain markets are really gravitating towards deploying these types of technologies?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. So I definitely say Canada Australia, New Zealand as well I would say Northern Europe. So Speaker 2 was here from, from Benelux. We're seeing, focus there. I'm just trying to think here.

Speaker 1:
That's a fairly typical pattern actually, isn't it. When we think about technology adoption, Scandinavian countries, Benelux countries, UK, US, and Australia is fairly typical. Okay, thank you.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, I will say though, when we did a DEIB strategy report in one thing I was surprised in that research was the extent to which some Asian countries have been focused here. So you know, that is an area where I think that there is potential to their concerns are different. But there was more traction there than I would've guessed. Just kind of thinking about it without having done the research.

Stacia Garr:
I see, we've got just a couple of couple minutes left. Any other questions on this one? And Priyanka, do we have another question?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah, actually we did receive an interesting one. This is the final one.

Stacia Garr:


Stand alone solution vs add-on to an existing HR Tech platform?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
So is it better to integrate a standalone solution with others, such as learning, ATS, etc. or find an add-on to an existing HR tech platform?

Stacia Garr:
We had the answer to this one. We could just call it a day and be all good.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
My instinct as a researcher is to say it depends.

Stacia Garr:
Yup. I agree. So do you want to give your thoughts Priyanka and then I can add on?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah, I think like touching on what I had said earlier, you know, you already may have DEIB technology in solutions that you're using for something else. So it very well depends on what your use cases, what are the challenges that you're specifically looking to solve for? And what technologies already exist in your ecosystem. So if you're a Workday user, you already have that in your organization, it probably makes sense to go ahead and use their DEIB features and capabilities similarly with ADP. So I think versus like, if you have something very specific, it was just like, we've been talking more Texio for a bit. If that's something that you need to add to your recruiting efforts, then you need to look at a point solution that meets those very, very specific niche needs that your organization might have. What do you think Stacia?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, no, I completely agree. I think it just depends on where you are. And the other thing is you also may try something and find that it doesn't work. You know, you may try the, the Workday solution and find that that's not meeting your needs, and then you go and you find something else. So I think it just kinda depends on what those needs are and what you have available and the extent to which it meets,

Speaker 2:
If I may, I don't know how the situation is west, but here it looks, we don't even document more than gender. So I have these organizations now asking whether we can map, you know, all the different dimensions, necessity, sexual orientation, religion, etc., outside of an HCM, also due to GDPR issues. Because in the existing solutions, the best you get is a binary gender indication, even just binary. So there is nothing about the gender spectrum or whatever. So there is clearly a need, but I see organizations really being puzzled with finding solutions on how to satisfy the needs, because they were assuming that they had the data, but actually they don't

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, I think what we tend to see here in the US is, is folks asking for voluntarily, and if it's voluntarily given, then then being able to include it. But to be honest, I think that this is an area I need to understand more for, for GDPR, because I don't actually, I mean, to me, my gut, when I hear about mapping outside of the HRS, it's like, Ooh, I'm not sure, but I think that that is completely rooted in gut. Does anybody else know kind of about the legal implications of that?

Speaker 4:
Wherever you're, if you're holding it, you're holding it. It's like, if you're the owner, you're the owner a hundred GDPR, that's more a case of what's your standing relative to the data. So if, if you can't, you'd have to, yeah. You can't really hand off that to a third party and say like, Oh, we're no longer the owner that third party is acting as an owner for you. You would, you would have to, like, I don't really see loopholes in terms of a business not being designated the owner of that data, if it's about their people. What I have seen some people do is try and do aggregation. So it's not a record on the employee. It's a, it's a extrapolation from the data. So we get a percentage, female, a percentage of race, but I'm not putting female against this specific employee. So I'm not, it's not on the person, therefore you're not got that same level of liability for it. But it's awkward. It's just awkward. And then typically your right Speaker 2, typically in Europe they don't track race and ethnicity for many, many strong reasons, which is different in the US. In the US you have to categorize somebody into five different standardized buckets of, of race for EOC reporting. So there's actually really different reporting frameworks in both places.

Stacia Garr:
Cool. Well, I see we are at time. So I want to just say thank you all for a robust discussion. Really appreciate everybody's participation and thoughts, and obviously, you know, this is area, that we're continuing to research and to work on. And so, you know, if you have other areas of interest or things that you think, Hey, this is something that, that is really I'm hearing a lot from my clients or my customers, or whereas just top of mind for us as an organization we definitely would love to hear about it. So you can drop me an emali at [email protected] or Priyanka, just Priyanka at the same place, or if you can't remember either of those [email protected] And and we would love to hear from you. So with that gonna say, thank you so much. And until the next time that we all come together, we hope that you do well and stay safe.


DEIB Tech: A Market Whose Time Has Come

Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 at 7:03 AM    

Events of 2020 – COVID-19, a social justice movement, and multiple natural disasters – have created a business imperative for orgs to address and rethink their orgs’ DEIB practices. Leaders looking to design a holistic DEIB approach for their orgs should focus on 6 key areas, one of which is technology.

Over the last few years, technology has grown and matured to meet the needs of the orgs by adding capabilities that specifically address DEIB and help customers solve their primary challenges. This infographic summarizes our report DEIB Tech: A Market Maturing To Meet The Moment.

Click on the image below to get the full infographic. As always, we would love your feedback, which you can provide in the comments section below the infographic.

DEIB Tech: A Market Maturing to Meet the Moment 

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 at 3:00 AM    

DEIB Tech: Its Time Has Come

Global pandemic. Protests. Elections. Riots. (And whatever else happens between when we publish this article and you read it.)

Needless to say, the last year has been rough. It laid bare our differences in stark relief. Showed how events impact diverse people differently. Perhaps it caused you some measure of disgust, despair, or even depression. At a minimum, it likely contributed to exhaustion.

But, at the same time, the last year has also revealed our underlying humanity. The extent to which we care about other people. The depth at which we hold our beliefs about our country. The potential we have when we work together (hello, COVID-19 vaccine!).

Given all this, there's never been a greater need for a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)—both in our society and in our organizations. We have a need to understand each other and to work together, more than ever before.

Organizations throughout the world have recognized this, from top leaders to DEIB leaders to managers and employees. It’s for this reason companies are talking about DEIB more in their earnings reports than ever before (see Figure 11) and why the number of DEIB job openings has skyrocketed (see Figure 22).

Figure 1: Percentage of S&P 500 Orgs That Discussed D&I Policies During Earnings Calls |
Source: Royal Bank of Canada, 2020.

Figure 2: Number of D&I & HR Job Openings from June-December 2020 | Source: Glassdoor, 2020.

The thing is this: Organizations can't just talk about DEIB and hire people to lead it. That's a good start, but it’s not enough. Organizations need to change their systems, practices, and behaviors. The change cannot just rely on individuals—it has to be baked into how the organization operates.

This is where DEIB technology can help, as it has the potential to build in practices, behaviors, insights, and recommendations that address bias. It can also provide insights about what is actually happening with people (versus relying on anecdote-based understanding) at the moment of critical decision-making about talent.

DEIB tech is no longer a brand new market—but still many have not heard of it. With that in mind, let’s do a quick review of where this market came from and why it's now ready to meet this moment.

Tripping down memory lane

When we first began studying the D&I tech market in 2018, the #MeToo movement had thrust diversity and inclusion in the workspace under a spotlight. Stories and accounts of workplace discrimination, harassment, and unethical behaviors toward women in the workplace led numerous businesses to pledge to change their policies and take action.3 As a result, organizations began to feel a greater need for systemwide solutions.

In 2018, we launched our first research study on this topic, and we published a comprehensive report, Diversity & Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market, in February 2019. The study included a list of all the D&I vendors (105) we identified and was accompanied by a detailed vendor landscape tool (with 2 updates since). As we shared in our initial report, tech can play a transformative role.

Today, we’ve expanded the topic’s breadth to now span diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging—increasing our coverage to 196 vendors (and counting!). And while we cover the market trends and changes extensively in this report, the complete list of all the vendors and the details around their capabilities are included in our online tool.

We believed in 2019 that tech may be the missing link which—along with a combination of strategies, goals, practices, policies, and behaviors—could bring about systemic changes for DEIB.

Fast forward to today

We (still) find ourselves in the midst of health, social, and economic crises. 2020 was not an easy year for anyone, but it especially impacted diverse people in many significant ways, including:

  • Women left the workforce in record numbers
  • Lower-income earners saw their jobs evaporate
  • The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others disproportionately impacted the Black community

The rise of the Black Lives Matter (#BLM) movement in the U.S. and around the world has forced people to pay greater attention to issues surrounding racial diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. As a result, businesses are increasingly expected to take a stand on social justice issues, remain true to their values, and treat their workforce in an equitable manner.4

Many companies have responded by making pledges or promises in support of the #BLM movement.5  A large number of them have focused on increasing diversity levels within the companies, both at the employee and leadership levels (for examples of such corporate pledges, see Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: Creating a Holistic Approach for 2021).

As the pressure to follow through on these promises increases, leaders must develop strategies to achieve them—and we believe that DEIB tech represents one of the critical components of the process (see Figure 3 further down). Sophisticated tech—such as artificial intelligence (AI), deep machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and organizational network analysis (ONA)—can help leaders manage DEIB better and more easily, and are increasingly becoming more accepted as essential tools for people practices.6

Orgs that are serious about implementing systemic change and seeking to achieve a lasting impact should look to DEIB tech for capabilities that enable them.

Specifically, DEIB tech can help:

  • Improve the org’s understanding of and complexities surrounding DEIB
  • Promote objective decision-making
  • Flag and mitigate bias
  • Ensure equal access to opportunities for all within the org
  • Create transparency and accountability
  • Scale DEIB efforts throughout the org

We believe that leaders must have a clear understanding of the DEIB tech available (internally and externally), and how it can help them achieve their business’s goals.

Through this report, we aim to achieve 4 things:

  1. Help leaders understand the role of DEIB tech
  2. Provide insights on the state of the DEIB tech market
  3. Highlight the talent areas focused on by vendors
  4. Guide leaders who may be looking to make tech investments

Key Findings

  1. 3 major shifts punctuate the current DEIB tech market. To start, in 2017-2018, when the #MeToo movement was at its height, leaders were especially focused on gender; in 2020-21, the emphasis has evolved to include a focus on race and ethnicity. Next, and as a result of the first shift, the social justice movements and conversations around discriminatory workplace policies and behaviors have led to greater attention to inclusion than ever before. Finally, the role and impact of AI on mitigating bias to enhance DEIB has come front and center, and is being more readily addressed.
  2. The broader HR tech world is responding to these market shifts. The number of HR tech vendors offering features or functionalities that cater to DEIB as part of their solutions has increased by 136% since 2019. We believe this reflects a growing need among organizations for HR tech solutions that incorporate a DEIB lens into all areas of talent.
  3. The DEIB tech market is hotter than ever. The total number of vendors in the market increased by 87% as we identified a total of 196 vendors in the market for 2021, as compared with the 105 that we included in our research in 2019. The overall market size is $313 million, having grown at a CAGR of 59% since our last study in 2019.
  4. People analytics for DEIB has arrived. Lack of analytics and insights on DEIB is the primary challenge that the majority of vendors are helping their customers solve for. Data and analytics are becoming more important for DEIB as organizations measure and track their efforts.7 As a result, a number of solutions providing DEIB analytics capabilities is growing (28% in 2021 vs 26% in 2019).
  5. Smaller organizations and knowledge industries remain the main customers of DEIB tech. The largest customer category is small organizations (those with fewer than 1,000 employees), who represent almost 30% of all DEIB vendor customers. However, these small organizations represent a smaller percentage of DEIB vendor customers in 2021 than in 2019, and there was an increase in the percentage of customer organizations in the 10,000-50,000 employee range. As companies recover from the events of 2020, we expect to see orgs of all sizes increase their use of DEIB tech.

DEIB Tech: So Critical Now

Before we dive into the latest about DEIB tech, we need to establish a foundation here for some of the terms and concepts we use. We also offer a brief explanation of why DEIB tech is important to your organization.

Let’s take a step back and define our overall terms. Readers of our previous report will notice that we’ve evolved our terminology from “diversity and inclusion” (D&I) to “diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging” (DEIB). The events of 2020 resulted in a focus on conversations around the workplace experiences of diverse and underrepresented people.

Specifically, they shed light on the uneven playing field that many individuals are faced with, as well as how it impacts their sense of belonging and being part of an organization. Due to this, we’ve seen a rise among both orgs and vendors that consider equity and belonging as part of their holistic understanding of this issue, and are including them as part of their programs and offerings.

What is DEIB?

Figure 3 features our definitions for the DEIB abbreviation—diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Figure 3: RedThread's Definitions of Terms | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Now that we’ve defined the terms, it’s time to understand why DEIB is so important.

The great divide: Why is DEIB important NOW?

The events of 2020 have resulted in a sense of urgency and accelerated conversations about DEIB. And we’re seeing an unprecedented and greater willingness among leaders to engage and push for change. So, while cultural injustices have happened throughout our global history, why does there seem to be a greater push to change things now?

A key factor: Underrepresented people have been impacted disproportionately by the health and economic crises brought about by COVID-19—inequalities that have shined a discriminating spotlight on the many differences that continue to exist in our social structures.

For example: Job losses hit Black workers in far greater numbers than for Whites. Both Black men and women saw their unemployment rates go up to more than 16%, while White men saw theirs rise to a comparatively lower number of 12.8%, in April 2020.8 This gap didn’t improve once businesses reopened and companies began rehiring later in the year. While by August the unemployment rate for White workers was down to 7%, for Black workers it was much higher at 13% and the gap even larger.9

Additionally, as a result of the events of summer 2020, #BLM movement, and the following protests, many employees found themselves navigating difficult conversations around these issues at the workplace. Leaders, on their end, found themselves facing greater expectations to provide “safe spaces” for employees to do that, and have more open and honest discussions with them.10

Companies are under increasing pressure today to act on issues around discrimination and systemic racism. Leaders must seize this opportunity to make good on their claims and enable meaningful change to happen. And designing an overall approach to DEIB is a really good place to start.

Leveraging DEIB tech as part of an overall approach

Given the heightening expectations of DEIB that orgs are facing, leaders need to design a holistic approach to DEIB which includes all people practices and impacts all stakeholders. As we learned in our recent research,11 when designing their new DEIB approach, orgs must do 6 key things:

  1. Clarify their purpose or reason for doing it
  2. Establish goals
  3. Develop a strategy to meet those goals
  4. Identify critical levers and activities that impact those goals
  5. Leverage technology
  6. Use data, analytics, and metrics to embed accountability and transparency

Figure 4: Components of a Holistic Approach to DEIB | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Technology forms a core part of a holistic DEIB approach. The next section explores what DEIB tech can offer. For more details on the other components of a holistic DEIB approach, please refer to our report, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: Creating A Holistic Approach For 2021.

What is DEIB tech?

When we talk about DEIB tech, we’re referring to …

… Enterprise software that provides insights, or alters processes or practices, at the individual or organizational level, in support of an organization’s efforts to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, and to enable belonging.

For the purpose of our ongoing research, we focus on tech that impacts decisions related to people. While there are other types of technology, such as those focusing on accessibility for people with a range of abilities and disabilities, these aren’t covered in our report as they don’t impact people decisions directly.

When we think about DEIB tech, we identify 3 types of vendors:

  • DEIB focus vendors. The primary business for these vendors is helping orgs address their DEIB challenges. An example: a vendor whose product focuses only on reducing unconscious bias during hiring.
  • DEIB feature vendors. These offer features or functionalities that cater specifically to DEIB needs, but their primary business focus includes more than DEIB. An example: a recruiting software vendor whose product can make all resume names / identifying info “blind” to minimize unconscious bias.
  • DEIB friendly vendors. While these vendors neither address DEIB as their primary focus nor market themselves specifically as doing so, their included features or functionalities could positively impact such efforts in organizations. An example: a recruiting software vendor using AI to recommend appropriate candidates to hiring managers.

Essentially, DEIB tech should impact people decisions in a manner that helps orgs meet their DEIB goals. It should help transform fundamental and structural qualities of the systems that are in place in order to bring about lasting change. The key point here is that it must help drive systemic change in the organizations.

DEIB tech must impact people decisions by transforming fundamental and structural qualities of the systems in place in order to drive systemic change in the organization.

Some of the ways DEIB tech can do this is by:

  • Uncovering existing policies, practices, and programs that may be biased, discriminatory (in reality, if not in design), or in conflict with the company strategy, and which need to be changed
  • Identifying existing gaps between goals and the actions taken to meet them
  • Measuring and tracking progress toward those goals
  • Analyzing data and information for greater insights, and identifying areas of interest
  • Making recommendations on next steps
  • Scaling these efforts and the impact of these activities for the benefit of the entire organization

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals around what DEIB tech is and why it’s important for orgs, let’s dive into this market.

State Of The DEIB TECH Market

Since we published our first report on the DEIB market, we’ve published 2 additional updates (here and here) that feature several new vendors as well as our overview on the market itself. In addition, regular conversations with vendors and users of these technologies allow us to keep a pulse on the DEIB tech market changes over time.

Four ongoing trends caught our attention and results from our recent vendor survey confirmed these findings. Overall, the DEIB tech market is:

  1. Experiencing 3 big shifts in its approach to DEIB
  2. Hot and growing with more vendors offering DEIB capabilities than ever before
  3. Largely comprised of customers from small orgs and knowledge sector industries
  4. Getting serious about analytics

Let’s examine these market trends in more detail.

3 big shifts

Our research and conversations reveal that the events of 2020 significantly impacted how organizations are thinking and approaching DEIB. Specifically, we find the following 3 big shifts that play a role in this market’s evolution:

  1. Focus shift from gender to race
  2. Stronger spotlight on inclusion
  3. Impact and role of AI at the forefront

Focus shift from gender to race

The #MeToo movement in 2017-2018 brought conversations about sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace under a spotlight. Similarly, the twin crises of COVID-19 and the social justice movements in 2020 highlighted discussions about workplace discrimination—with the focus now shifted from gender to race. The events of 2020 have had a disproportionately greater impact on diverse and underrepresented people. And, as conversations around DEIB have increased and demanded attention, there’s more emphasis around the issue of ending systemic racism.

Our interviews with DEIB leaders revealed a greater openness among orgs to have honest conversations about race than ever before: To a large extent, this is due to the expectations that people have. Eighty percent of the U.S. population want brands to help solve society’s problems, while 71% trust their employer to do what’s right on systemic racism and racial injustice.12

Figure 5: DEIB Perspectives of the U.S. Population | Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2021.

DEIB tech providers also noticed this shift. Our findings revealed that vendors:

  • Added specific questions regarding race in their surveys and analytics
  • Offer resources that cover issues about racial injustice
  • Provide capabilities that allow users to measure and compare employee experiences through a race lens

A stronger spotlight on inclusion

As we mention in our report Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: Creating A Holistic Approach For 2021, our research showed that the pandemic and #BLM movement led to an expansion of DEIB efforts by orgs. In particular, remote work, the disproportional effect of COVID-19 on certain populations, and uneven caregiving responsibilities all threatened to disrupt ongoing efforts to keep employees engaged and connected. Many organizations evolved their efforts to meet those challenges: Some revisited their policies and practices around employee lifecycles and updated them to meet these changing needs.

One such example comes from Ph.Creative, a brand agency that updated its strategy to better focus on inclusion.

Real-World Threads

Ph.Creative is a U.K.-based employer brand agency. When the company hired its current Chief People Officer, Cher Murphy, there was no official DE&I strategy in place. Being a brand agency, the company truly believes that inclusion and belonging are an outcome of the employer brand and the experiences of the employees with the brand.

Hence, one of the first things Cher did was establish an engaging onboarding experience, called “Meet the Phamily." The objective, which includes a buddy program, is to get new talent to engage as soon as they join. There's a “meet the family” interview with the new employee which gives everyone a chance to connect. The buddy program also enables new talent to connect with others on things outside of work, such as what they're currently watching and what their creative feed is like. These efforts help people coming in from different backgrounds and experiences to connect and feel included.

This greater focus on inclusion is evident in how a solution’s success is measured. In our survey, we asked vendors how their customers measure the success of their DEIB tech. In 2019, the top success measure was the increase in diversity of talent pipeline. In 2021, it was very different though: the increase in level of inclusion within the organization (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Top 5 Primary Success Measures of DEIB Solutions 2021 vs 2019 |
Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Solution providers, too, have noticed this growing focus and are responding to it. For example, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of vendors focused on employee engagement and development (43% in 2021 vs 31% in 2019). These activities, including employee experience, learning, career management, and wellbeing, drive and impact inclusion. Several vendors we spoke with shared that they’re offering products to help customers:

  • Check the overall employee pulse and wellbeing
  • Ensure continued engagement even in remote environments
  • Enable flexibility to meet the differing needs of their workforce

Economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic also impacted this market. Budget cuts and low spending meant that talent acquisition (TA), and as a result diversity hiring, didn’t receive as much focus as it has in recent years. Organizations became more focused on retaining their existing workforce by ensuring they remain safe, engaged, and connected.

Finally, the racial injustice movements and conversations brought to the forefront that Black employees don’t feel a sense of inclusion or belonging at the workplace.13 People in general are more aware of a racial divide now as a result of the events of 2020: This has been instrumental in orgs realizing that they need to do more to ensure their diverse employees feel included.

Impact & role of AI at the forefront of DEIB

As the impact  and role of AI on DEIB has increasingly made news over the past few years,14 users as well as solution providers have been working to better understand the problems and address the resultant issues.

AI: The impact

While AI can identify and ferret out instances of existing bias in current systems and policies, it can also perpetuate it, for example, in job descriptions, hiring or promotion practices, or workplace communications. A main reason why: The data used to train algorithms is biased to begin with and, without correction, the algorithms simply replicate those biases. This can be due to such algorithms having been trained on a data sample that’s based on an over- or underrepresented population—thereby rewarding or penalizing other groups.

While AI can identify and ferret out instances of existing bias in current systems and policies, it can also perpetuate it.

Another big reason: The training data contains human biases and inequities reflective of those who created it. As a result, technology developers are increasingly adapting approaches that ensure the training data used for machine learning algorithms is free from human bias through stress testing and experimentation.15

AI: The role

While the impact of using biased algorithms has become clear, the role AI can play to mitigate existing biases has also received greater attention. The key point for users: The technology is used for the right problem and not seen as a cure-all.

For example, an AI interviewing software would be of little help to an org looking to increase its diverse candidate hiring if very few diverse candidates have been applying for roles to begin with. In this instance, the organization should consider why diverse candidates aren’t applying. It might be a sourcing problem. It might be a job description problem. It might be an employer brand problem. (There are tech solutions for all those problems.) Whatever the problem is, the AI interviewing software won’t help. The algorithm must be directed at the right problem.

In sum: 3 big shifts

These 3 shifts together can propose what may come as the DEIB tech market matures. They also offer hope that the words and pledges made by orgs in 2021 will be followed by respective actions as the understanding and focus around these 3 issues grow.

DEIB market growth

The market grew in 2 important ways in the last few years: both the number of vendors and market size as measured by revenue increased.

DEIB growth: Vendors

The overall number of vendors in the market (as identified by us) increased from 105 in 2019 to 196 in 2021. That’s an increase of 87%.

At first glance, you might think this increase may be due to the addition of new vendors. In fact, our research revealed, however, that many established vendors, not previously offering any DEIB functionality, have added new features / functionalities that customers can now use specifically for DEIB purposes. When we compared the total number of DEIB feature vendors in 2021 vs 2019, we saw an increase of 136%.

Our research revealed that 40% of vendors fall under our DEIB feature category in 2021, as compared with 30% in 2019. DEIB friendly vendors comprise a smaller percentage of the market than they did in 2019, while the percentage of DEIB focus vendors remained mostly unchanged at 32% (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Types of DEIB Tech, 2021 vs 2019 | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

As shown in Figure 7, we believe these changes are a reflection of 2 interrelated developments.

  • In the last few years, a large number of DEIB friendly vendors added or developed features that cater more specifically to DEIB needs—thus, they’re now counted as DEIB feature vendors.
  • New vendors are finding more value in offering solutions with a DEIB lens embedded in their talent areas of focus, rather than only addressing specific DEIB challenges (i.e., an ONA or learning solution that’s able to provide insights on employee networks or learning, respectively, which can be broken down and analyzed by gender and race).

DEIB growth: Market

While many industries suffered setbacks with investments and contracts on hold during the pandemic, the DEIB tech market grew considerably. We had initially estimated the overall market size to be $100 million in 2018. However, our research this year turned up even more vendors that existed in 2018, so we have revised our 2018 overall market size to $124 million (see Figure 8). 

Figure 8: Total Market Size for DEIB Tech | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

We estimate the overall market size to be $313 million, with a 2-year CAGR of 59% (and a 4-year CAGR of 82%) for the overall market. This growth is commendable, given 2020 was a year when almost all orgs looked to limit their spending and avoid unnecessary new investments.

We estimate the overall market size for DEIB technology market to be $313 million, with a 2-year CAGR of 59%.

Much of this growth was driven by the renewed calls for commitments to DEIB, once the #BLM movement gained momentum in the latter half of 2020. Given that we expect internal and external stakeholders to increasingly demand that orgs “walk the talk” in 2021, we expect demand (and thus market growth) to remain strong in the near future.

Customers of DEIB tech

When we looked at the customers of DEIB tech, two main findings caught our attention.

  1. In general, small businesses comprise a greater percentage of DEIB tech than large orgs
  2. Customers from technology, financial, and healthcare / life science industries have increased

Customer size

A real opportunity exists for the largest organizations to leverage DEIB tech. When we calculate the mean for customer sizes, we find that almost 30% of DEIB tech customers are small orgs with less than 1,000 employees. This is a lower number than in 2019 (see Figure 9) and likely represents a maturing of the market, since we see vendors increasingly selling to larger enterprises, notably organizations in the 10,000-50,000 employee range. That said, for the largest organizations—those with more than 50,000 employees—we haven't seen any notable movement in the percentage of them becoming DEIB customers.

Figure 9: Mean Percentage of DEIB Tech Solution Customers by Size, 2021 vs 2019 |
Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

This relatively low level of subscription to these technologies represents a real opportunity for the largest organizations because, as our research indicates, they're the ones which can use the help most, for 2 reasons:

  1. Trust in large orgs is low. This is especially telling when compared with small businesses. A September 2020 Edelman study found that 43% of Americans trust large corporations to do the right thing in responding to issues of systemic racism and racial justice, as compared with 62% trusting small businesses. Corporations, in general, are believed to care less for their employees and share too little of their success with them.16 In addition, several recent instances of employers monitoring or tracking employee activity without their knowledge have appeared in the media.17 Employee fears of privacy invasion became more serious once the majority of the workforce shifted to remote work during the pandemic.18
  2. High expectations exist for large orgs to do the right thing and take meaningful actions on DEIB. Seventy-seven percent of Americans state that it’s deeply important for companies to respond to racial injustice to earn or keep their trust.19 And while words matter, actions that lead to change matter even more. This was made clear when several leaders of large corporations received criticisms and backlash from consumers and media for their public stances in support of the #BLM movement: People saw them as stating empty words and pointed out the leaders’ failures to address discrimination within their own companies.

As the largest organizations look to put real money in 2021 behind the statements they made during #BLM, we expect to see them turn to tech more to help them address the systemic challenges they have with DEIB.

Figure 10: DEIB Perspectives of the U.S. Population |
Source: Systemic Racism: The Existential Challenge for Businesses, September 2020.


When we look at DEIB customers by industry, as expected, we see that technology and financial services / banking / insurance comprise an even larger portion of DEIB tech customers than they did in 2019 (see Figure 11). Also, customers from healthcare, pharmaceuticals, life science, and chemical industries increased by almost 3%. Although this may not seem like much, our conversations with vendors revealed a growing interest from these 4 industries.

Again, we believe the COVID-19 crisis played a role as it highlighted the need for organizations to support underrepresented and diverse groups, which comprise a significant percentage of healthcare workers.20

Figure 11: Top 5 Industries by Investments in DEIB Tech, 2021 vs 2019 | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Customers from the knowledge sector, including technology, financial, banking, and insurance industries, grew by almost 10% for each of them. This isn't too surprising as the technology industry tends to be more open to using tech to solve challenges. Also, given that the technology industry has been under the spotlight for its lack of progress when it comes to diversity in the recent years,21,22 this is a welcome sign. Although DEIB tech is not a silver bullet, combined with a comprehensive strategy and practical goals, it can help enable continuous positive change.

Analytics takes centerstage

“ turn data into information, and information
into insight.”23

This phrase is certainly gaining traction in the DEIB tech market. Over the past 2 years, we’ve noticed a growing emphasis on using analytics and insights to understand DEIB—and our survey findings confirm this. Fifty-two percent of vendors listed it as the primary challenge their solutions are helping customers solve in 2021, as compared with 33% in 2019 (see Figure 12).

52% of vendors listed analytics as the primary challenge their solutions are helping customers solve in 2021 (as compared with 33% in 2019).

Figure 12: Primary Challenges Addressed by DEIB Solutions, 2021 vs 2019 | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

As we mentioned in our recent report, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: Creating A Holistic Approach For 2021, identifying, analyzing, and democratizing DEIB data is becoming a critical focus among forward-thinking organizations. Leaders are now trying to:

  • Understand the experiences of diverse populations
  • Identify and understand networks among different groups
  • Analyze these data for deeper insights
  • Build greater accountability

In response, DEIB tech vendors are also building on their capabilities to help orgs enact and scale these efforts. Twenty-eight percent of vendors cater to analytics as a talent management area in 2021, as compared with 26% in 2019.

This brings us to our next section on the different areas of talent management that vendors target.

Talent Areas Vendors Focused On

The talent areas served by DEIB tech vendors have shifted considerably during the last 2 years (see Figure 13). As you may notice, the distribution is more evenly spread across the 4 talent categories today than it was previously. The biggest difference: The percentage of solutions that focus on talent acquisition, which declined to 29% in 2021 from 43% in 2019.

We believe this shift is due to at least 2 reasons:

  • A significant number of (both new and old) vendors focused just on employees have introduced features that enable them to serve DEIB needs—thus, now making them a DEIB “feature” vendor, whereas, before, they may not have been in the market at all.
  • The economic uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 has resulted in much lower levels of hiring, potentially decreasing the number of vendors focusing on DEIB in talent acquisition.

Figure 13: Percentage of DEIB Market Devoted to Each Talent Category, 2021 vs 2019 |
Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Let’s look at each of these talent areas in more detail.

Talent acquisition

About 30% of the 196 vendors identified in our research focus on talent acquisition (TA). Of those, 25 participated in our survey, with 60% of them offering solutions that help customers with candidate sourcing and selection (see Figure 14).

Figure 14: Percentage of Talent Acquisition Market Devoted to Each Subcategory |
Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Readers of our previous report will note that we broadened our TA category this year to include new subcategories for onboarding, employment branding, and labor market analysis. This is because we noticed a rise in new capabilities and products among several vendors. Each of these subcategories have within them several areas that solutions focus on. For example, vendors under candidate selection offer capabilities that help customers create blind assessments, match diverse candidates to job descriptions, and / or help reduce bias during the selection processes. Similarly, a solution helping customers with sourcing candidates can do so by accessing diverse pools or changing job descriptions to reduce bias.

While we haven’t listed all of the different types of capabilities that vendors offer under each TA subcategory, readers can access a complete list of all TA vendors and find which capabilities they offer through our DEIB tech tool.

One of the ways DEIB technology can help customers improve their candidate selection process is by helping them match candidates to job descriptions, as we illustrate with the following story.

Real-World Threads

Postmates, a food delivery company, leveraged Eightfold’s Talent Experience Module to improve its candidates’ application experience.

As a result, candidates now simply give Postmates their resumes, which are then used to match their skills with jobs—instead of requiring each candidate to scroll through the company’s career site and identify the roles that fit them. This not only provides a more improved application process for candidates, but also opens up the candidate pool for Postmates. The solution can match candidates to roles that they might not have selected for themselves or missed out on. The company can also develop targeted and job-specific content that applicants can access on the career site.

As a result of improving the overall candidate experience, Postmates experienced an increase of more than 33% in Hispanic / Latino applications, and more than 12% growth in Black / African-American applications between Q2-Q3 2020. In addition, the company noticed a rise of more than 91% in female applications in September 2020, as compared with the same period in 2019.

This last result is especially remarkable: We know that women are less likely to apply for a job unless they feel 100% qualified for it, as compared with men24 and, on average, apply for fewer jobs.25 The job-matching and personalized content significantly increased the chances of women applying for roles that they otherwise would not have applied for.

Figure 15: Screenshot from Postmates | Source:, 2021.

Development / advancement

The number of solutions that target development / advancement as a talent category significantly increased from 19% in 2019 to 26% in 2021. We believe this growth is due to the changing needs of the orgs. As we mentioned earlier, due to the shift to remote work and a slowdown in hiring new talent, orgs have shifted their focus to developing their existing workforce.

The largest subcategories within this area are leadership development (LD) and learning (L&D). Of the survey participant vendors that target development / advancement, 50% of them focus on these 2 subcategories (see Figure 16). New subcategories in this area for our 2021 study include recognition, talent mobility, and compensation / total rewards.

Figure 16: Percentage of Development / Advancement Market Devoted to Each Subcategory |
Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

A significant finding this year is the number solutions that focus on LD. Readers of our previous report may recall this: Even though a big diversity challenge was representation at different levels of leadership, we identified only 16% of tech solutions that targeted this particular subcategory. In 2021, that number rose to 26%.

One of the ways DEIB tech vendors help organizations enable LD is by providing insights on leaders’ behaviors. The ability to provide insights on leadership behaviors and communication patterns became especially crucial once the pandemic hit and employees began working remotely. An example from McKesson, a healthcare company, provides an example of how important such insights can be.

Real-World Threads

McKesson initially offered a solution, Cultivate, as a tool for people leaders with distributed teams to better understand their digital relationships. Once the pandemic hit, McKesson underwent greater rapid digital transformation due to the dramatic shift to a remote workforce, which further increased employee reliance on digital communications. As a result, the solution became a vital resource as people leaders looked to understand how that change impacts team relationships.

The results by McKesson have thus far been a resounding success. Managers that actively use the solution give 90% more recognition to their direct reports, and more than 80% of users report better self-awareness of how they treat team members. This includes insights on observed behaviors, such as after-hour messages, responsiveness, sharing opinions, and more. This is important as leaders work to understand their role in giving recognition, requesting feedback, or fostering a psychologically safe place.26

Solutions can help customers in many ways under the different subcategories in this talent area, including:

  • Orgs looking for vendors that help with L&D will find such capabilities as delivering training within existing employee workflows, offering virtual reality training, and helping design civil conversations.
  • Vendors focused on mentorship and career management offer capabilities, such as enabling diverse talent to search for mentors, providing networking opportunities, or personalized career pathing.

For a full list of vendors that focus on development / advancement and the capabilities they offer, please visit our DEIB tech tool.

Engagement / retention

Seventeen percent of all DEIB tech vendors focus on engagement / retention. Of the survey participants that target this talent area, 75% are currently focused on 3 subcategories: employee experience, employee engagement, and employee voice. By employee voice, we mean how an employee communicates or speaks to the organization. (See Figure 17.)

Figure 17: Percentage of Engagement / Retention Market Devoted to Each Subcategory |
Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

New subcategories in this year’s study include employee wellbeing and employee engagement. We added employee engagement so that we could differentiate between solutions that help customers understand the unique experiences of employees and perceptions versus those that help customers with initiatives to improve employees’ engagement levels with their work.

Some of the newest additions in this category include:

  • Capabilities that focus on employee voice, by allowing anonymous reporting and confidential conversations around sexual harassment.
  • Vendors focused on employee experience to help customers understand diverse groups’ work experiences and to ask questions to better understand employee inclusion.

For a full list of vendors that focus on engagement / retention and the capabilities they offer, please visit our DEIB tech tool.

Real-World Threads

For Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), diversity is a strategic priority. To better serve the needs of its learners, SNHU is focused on supporting a diverse, inclusive culture from within. The university transformed its strategy—concentrating on the differing experiences of its employees and fostering a culture of belonging for all.

To understand the experiences of its employees, as well as attract and retain a workforce that reflects the diversity of its society and, consequently, its learners, the university leveraged Peakon. This solution provides them with real-time optics into the employee experience, engagement, and inclusion.

The solution allows them to slice and dice their data by various dimensions of diversity, such as gender, generation, race, or location, which has allowed the university to see what stories the data relates.

The initial data revealed that setting measurable goals for developing, retaining, and advancing the growth of the underrepresented employees is of paramount importance. Understanding the reasons behind employee turnover helped the university focus on the experiences of specific groups at SNHU and what it needed to keep in mind to better support them in the future.

As a result, the university experienced the following increases in Net Promoter Scores™ (NPS):

  • +33 NPS in overall engagement between 2018 and 2020
  • +62 NPS in the Freedom of Opinions driver
  • +40 NPS in Growth driver since implementation

Since the university implemented the technology in 2017, it has received 185,000+ comments from employees, which has helped the university better understand its employee experience.


As we mentioned earlier, analytics is a growing focus among DEIB tech providers. Of the survey participants which selected analytics as a talent area of focus, 57% offer capabilities for analysis and monitoring of DEIB activities by conducting representation / KPI analyses, enabling pay equity analyses, assessing network inclusion, analyzing TA processes, and providing DEIB dashboards (see Figure 18).

Figure 18: Percentage of Analytics Market Devoted to Each Subcategory | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Our survey also revealed that the number of solutions helping customers calculate the business case for D&I initiatives rose significantly to 30% in 2021 from 17% in 2019. This is most likely due to a growing need for DEIB leaders to quantify the impact of DEIB on business, and show the value of their initiatives and investments by tying them clearly to business outcomes.

The number of solutions that conduct ERG management and analysis also increased slightly to 13% in 2021 from 10% in 2019.

The number of solutions helping customers calculate the business case for D&I initiatives rose 13%, from 17% in 2019 to 30% in 2021.

For a full list of vendors that focus on analytics and the capabilities they offer, please visit our DEIB tech tool.

Real-World Threads

A leading industrial manufacturer, committed to achieving a workforce that reflects the communities in which it works and serves, identified 2 goals to ensure it realizes that commitment to:

  • Achieve 50% female parity in leadership roles by 2030
  • Create a globally diverse workforce with inclusive leaders and teams

The company leveraged Visier to measure retention and promotion rates of women leaders to see how it’s changing and where areas of opportunity may exist. The company also looked at its recruiting pipeline to better understand how women and underrepresented people move through the full pipeline from recruiter review to meetings with the hiring manager to offer extension.

This manufacturer found that women perform as well as men—and occasionally outperform them. Women also tend to stay longer with the company. However, a review of the TA process uncovered the number of women applicants has been disproportionately lower than their male counterparts. Further, as women move through the hiring process, more are dropped during the interview process.

While taking action to mitigate bias, the number of women and underrepresented people who move through the full hiring process has increased. Programs implemented for hiring managers include unconscious bias training, as well as workshops on inclusive conversations—enabling a better hiring experience for women and underrepresented candidates.

The company is continuing to make progress to meet its 2030 goals, which include achieving gender parity in leadership roles.

Figure 19: Screenshot of Visier’s Technology | Source:, 2021.

Moving forward, we expect that DEIB tech vendors will continue to improve their capabilities while also growing and developing new ones—to meet the unique and changing needs of the market. Buyers and potential investors need to be aware of these capabilities and use the success stories from other forward-thinking organizations to understand how to leverage these technologies for their own purposes. Additionally, other equally important considerations exist for you to keep in mind before investing in DEIB tech.

In our next section, we cover some of the crucial considerations that potential buyers should be aware of.

What Buyers Should Consider Before Investing

While it’s important to understand the market and the different talent areas of focus, leaders interested in DEIB tech must keep a few critical considerations in mind before making any investments:

  • Be aware of the benefits and the risks of using DEIB tech
  • Be clear about your own needs
  • Audit existing in-house tech that can potentially be leveraged for DEIB purposes

Understand the benefits & risks of using DEIB tech

Organizations must be aware of both the benefits and risks associated with DEIB tech before purchasing it (see Figure 20).

Figure 20: Benefits & Risks Associated with DEIB Tech | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Identify your organization’s needs

Once the benefits and risks are understood, DEIB leaders must reflect on their organization’s needs. As a DEIB leader, you can do this by:

  • Understanding your organization’s DEIB journey
  • Identifying if the vendor can meet your needs for support
  • Determining whether any additional services besides the tech may be required

Your organization’s need for a particular type of tech will depend to some extent on:

  • Where you are in your DEIB journey
  • What your level of understanding of DEIB issues is
  • What your specific goals are

Different leaders and organizations are at various stages in their journey to understand and embrace DEIB. When it comes to selecting DEIB tech, orgs first need to be clear on what they want to accomplish, where they currently stand, and what remains to be done.

“The tool allows everyone to begin their DEIB’s learning journey from where they are—curated content is delivered in weekly snippets that don't feel overwhelming.”

A small technology company for a DEIB focus vendor

Another critical factor to take into account is the amount of support your organization might need from the vendor. One way to gauge if the vendor can meet your needs is by looking at the vendor’s size and whether it has the in-house expertise needed.

Currently, most vendors are relatively small, with almost 70% employing fewer than 50 people (see Figure 21). These small vendors might be better suited for organizations with less complex needs (e.g., smaller, limited number of locations / geographies). For orgs with global operations looking to roll out initiatives on a wider scale, larger vendors might be better able to meet your needs. That said, vendor size is clearly not a direct determinant of capability, so it's critical to fully understand the vendor’s offerings.

Figure 21: Number of Vendor Employees | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

“ Still very small team—needs more manpower—is not a global solution.”

A midsize financial company for a DEIB focus vendor

Your organization may also require additional expertise or services beyond tech, such as consulting services, or access to resources or communities. From our survey, 42% of vendors offer additional services beyond their tech (see Figure 22). Orgs just starting on their DEIB journey can leverage such solutions to better understand the complexities of the issues around DEIB or to seek additional customer support if needed.

Figure 22: Percentage of Vendors Offering Additional Services | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

Of the 42% of vendors which provide additional services, about one-third offer services for the assessment and diagnosis of your current state and D&I maturity (see Figure 23). These solutions can be leveraged by orgs looking to expand or reenergize their DEIB efforts, and are in need of insights on where they currently stand.

Almost 30% of those which provide additional services, offer training and resources around D&I learning, which can be of particular use to those looking to solve challenges like unconscious bias. About 40% of vendors help customers manage companywide efforts around DEIB or can help you develop a strategy—ideal for orgs that are just beginning on their DEIB journey and need some extra support (See Figure 23).

Figure 23: Types of Additional Services Offered by Vendors | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

“ is a great way to assess where a company stands in their D&I understanding, commitment and strategy, and provides the feature to track and measure D&I activities to develop a roadmap to achieve the desired outcomes to support the organization's goals and objectives.”

A small professional services company for a DEIB focus vendor

In the following checklist, we offer some key questions to help you better understand your organization’s needs. Use these questions as a checklist when beginning your DEIB tech selection to determine where you currently stand regarding your DEIB needs and to kick start your discussions on technology selection.

Questions to consider: Determining your org’s DEIB tech needs

Understand your organization’s DEIB journey

☐ To what extent does your org understand the nuances and complexities related to DEIB tech?

☐ Where is your org in its DEIB journey? Have you planned where this journey will take your org? Are your stakeholders aligned with it?

☐ What, if any, DEIB-focused actions have you taken to date?

Identify if the vendor can meet your needs

☐ What specific activities do you need the solution to target?

☐ Does your org have multiple offices in different locations? What’s the extent of support needed by each?

Determine what additional services may be required

☐ What level of customer support will your org need to implement and use the solution?

☐ How much support will your org need from the vendor to manage DEIB efforts for the entire organization?

☐ How much support, if any, will your org need in measuring and assessing your current state of DEIB efforts?

Auditing in-house tech

As we mentioned earlier, many vendors have added DEIB features to their products in the last 2 years. Given this development, your organization may already have some capability in this area. Thus, your org may already have a “feature” or “friendly” technology that can be leveraged for DEIB purposes.

Your organization may already have a “feature” or “friendly” technology in-house that can be leveraged for DEIB purposes.

For example, some of the new vendors in our study are people analytics tech solutions that have developed DEIB features—allowing users to analyze different cohorts, genders, or groups of employees to understand their levels of engagement, development, and overall experience. Orgs with existing people analytics solutions may find such capabilities embedded in the technology.

Another example of existing tech that has developed DEIB features is HRIS / HCM tech solutions, such as Workday, SAP, and ADP:

  • In 2020, Workday launched its Value Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (VIBE) Central, a dashboard that brings together a company's diversity and inclusion data, best practices content, and reporting. The company also launched the VIBE Index, a metric that allows users to gauge their performance.27
  • SAP (via SuccessFactors) offers users the capability to monitor recruitment and management position data for women and underrepresented people, attrition and retention rates, and supplier diversity statistics.
  • ADP offers a pay equity tool within its HCM suites.

The following checklist includes a few key questions to consider when auditing existing in-house technology. Compare your results with the list of available tech in the market to help you narrow your choices.

Questions to consider: Auditing your org’s in-house tech 

Preaudit determinations

☐ Do you have the in-house expertise and resources to conduct and analyze your audit of existing tech?

☐ Should you research and secure the services of external consultants to handle this?

☐ What’s your timeline for conducting this audit?

☐ What deliverables are expected?

Existing technology

☐ What tech do you currently have in-house that can be leveraged for DEIB purposes?

☐ To what extent do those technologies have DEIB features? What's the level of sophistication of those features?

☐ Where are the existing gaps in your DEIB strategy? Which of those can a DEIB solution help with?

☐ What are the additional costs associated with adding new DEIB features?

☐ How would you measure the success of these new features?

New technology

☐ What additional tech do you need to help execute your strategy / meet your goals?

☐ How would this new tech fit in with your existing tech ecosystem?

☐ Which part(s) of the business are willing to experiment with new DEIB tech?

☐ Which specific capabilities do you require new tech to have?

☐ How would you measure the success of this new DEIB tech?

What’s Next

Given the findings from our study, we offer a few trends that we expect to see in the coming 12-18 months.

1. Continued integration of DEIB tech into all areas of talent
We expect to see more HR tech vendors add DEIB features / functionalities to their solutions and, thus, address a wider range of talent areas. And, while we did see a shift away from a heavy focus on TA and toward more solutions addressing more areas, we expect to see this trend continue and grow. Moving forward, more orgs will be looking to address all talent management activities, such as recognition, performance management, and talent mobility, through a DEIB lens.

2. More focus on inclusion and belonging
Recent research reveals that 52% of people choose culture as the primary reason to work at a company.28 The recent addition of D&I ratings and demographic information for companies on Glassdoor also reflects the growing importance that job seekers place on these issues when considering new roles. We expect to see more orgs leverage DEIB tech to measure and improve their inclusion and belonging.

3. Greater expectations to drive DEIB actions
As orgs feel the pressure to take a stand, and act against systemic racism and gender discrimination, they’ll no longer be satisfied with technologies that only go so far as providing data on the current state of DEIB and identifying gaps. DEIB tech must be able to:

  • Make recommendations, and highlight and prioritize specific actions for leaders
  • Connect these actions to business outcomes
  • Offer scenarios for how it may impact the org if those actions aren’t implemented

4. More accountability and transparency at all levels
Related to the point on actionability, we also expect to see tech drive greater accountability and ownership for DEIB at both the individual and organizational levels. Democratization of insights on actions around DEIB can encourage individual employees and leaders to take greater responsibility and ownership to monitor and change their behaviors accordingly. Tech can help employees and leaders understand how their daily actions may affect DEIB outcomes and make appropriate recommendations.


The events of 2020 have shifted the emphasis for organizations to act on DEIB from “need to do in the near future” to “need to do it right now.” The call for orgs to act on these issues and the urgency to show results have never been greater. The tech market is responding to these changes, as is evident from the growing DEIB market and capabilities: It’s time for organizations to step up and do their part, too.

DEIB tech can play a crucial role in helping org move the needle, provided it's leveraged thoughtfully. Today's buyer has more tech choices than ever before, which also comes with greater associated risks. However, leaders must remember that DEIB tech is only one part of the entire process—and, without proper alignment with the overall purpose, a comprehensive strategy, and a degree of accountability and transparency, technology in itself won't be able to bring about any lasting or meaningful change.

Appendix 1: Methodology

We launched our study in summer 2020, with a vendor survey that ran from June-August 2020. A total of 45 vendors completed our survey: One vendor offers 2 DEIB-focused solutions and another vendor offers 3 solutions—thereby, bringing the total number of solutions in our study to 48.

Once we collected the data, we reached out to vendors for reviews, clarifications, and to collect any missing data. We combined this with publicly available data on vendors that we found through our own research, bringing the total number of identified vendors to 196. We conducted our analysis in November 2020 and the report was written during December 2020-January 2021.

For this report, we added a customer poll, so that we could better understand the challenges and areas that DEIB tech is being used for, and user satisfaction levels with the vendors. We also created a robust evergreen DEIB tech tool, which serves as the repository of vendor-specific information. This new tool includes updated data and info on every vendor that participated in the research, including their capabilities and customer NPS scores.

Vendor Demographics

The majority of vendors (80%) that participated in our study have their headquarters in North America. Of the remaining, 16% are based in Europe, and 4% in Asia-Pacific or Australia (see Figure 24).

Figure 24: DEIB Vendor Headquarters Location | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

In 2021, the majority of investments in DEIB tech came from 5 industries—technology, financial / banking / insurance, healthcare, professional services, and pharmaceutical / chemical / life sciences (see Figure 25).

Figure 25: Customer Industries for DEIB Solutions* | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.
*Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.


DEIB Tech 2021 Overview

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 at 3:00 AM    

DEIB Tech: Its Time Has Come

Global pandemic. Protests. Elections. Riots. (And whatever else happens between when we publish this article and you read it.) Needless to say, the last year has been rough. It laid bare our differences in stark relief. Shown how events impact diverse people differently. Perhaps it caused you some measure of disgust, despair, or even depression. At a minimum, it likely contributed to exhaustion.

But, at the same time, the last year has also revealed our underlying humanity. The extent to which we care about other people. The depth at which we hold our beliefs about our country. The potential we have when we work together (hello, COVID-19 vaccine!).

Given all this, there has never been a greater need for a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) – both in our society and in our organizations. We have a need to understand each other and to work together, more than ever before.

Organizations throughout the world have recognized this, from top leaders to DEIB leaders to managers and employees. It’s for this reason companies are talking about DEIB more in their earnings reports than ever before and why the number of DEIB job openings has skyrocketed. The thing is this: organizations cannot just talk about DEIB and hire people to lead it. That is a good start, but it’s not enough. Organizations need to change their systems, practices, and behaviors. The change cannot just rely on individuals – it has to be baked into how the organization operates.

This is where DEIB technology can help, as it has the potential to build in practices, behaviors, insights, and recommendations that address bias. It can also provide insights about what is actually happening with people (versus relying on anecdote-based understanding) at the moment of critical decision-making about talent.

Tripping down memory lane

When we first began studying the D&I tech market in 2018, the #MeToo movement had thrust diversity and inclusion in the workspace under a spotlight. Stories and accounts of workplace discrimination, harassment, and unethical behaviors toward women in the workplace led numerous businesses to pledge to change their policies and take action.1 As a result, organizations began to feel a greater need for systemwide solutions.

In 2018, we launched our first research study on this topic, and we published a comprehensive report, Diversity & Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market, in February 2019. The study included a list of all the D&I vendors we identified and was accompanied by a detailed vendor landscape tool (with 2 updates since). As we shared in our initial report, tech can play a transformative role.

Fast forward to today

We (still) find ourselves in the midst of health, social, and economic crises. 2020 was not an easy year for anyone, but it especially impacted diverse people in many significant ways, including:

  • Women left the workforce in record numbers
  • Lower-income earners saw their jobs evaporate
  • The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others disproportionately impacted the Black community

Many companies have responded by making pledges or promises in support of the #BLM movement.2 A large number of them have focused on increasing diversity levels within the companies, both at the employee and leadership levels (for examples of such corporate pledges, see Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: Creating a Holistic Approach for 2021).

As the pressure to follow through on these promises increases, leaders must develop strategies to achieve them––and we believe that DEIB tech represents one of the critical components of the process (see Figure 2 further down). Sophisticated tech––such as artificial intelligence (AI), deep machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and organizational network analysis (ONA)––can help leaders manage DEIB better and more easily and are increasingly becoming more accepted as essential tools for people practices.3

Through this report, we aim to achieve 4 things:

  1. Help leaders understand the role of DEIB tech
  2. Provide insights on the state of the DEIB tech market
  3. Highlight the talent areas focused by vendors
  4. Guide leaders who may be looking to make tech investments

Key Findings

The study covers three major areas and how they have changed since 2019: the DEIB tech market, talent areas vendors focus on, and what buyers should consider before investing. We also address what we see coming next. Some of the key findings from the study include the following:

  1. Three major shifts punctuate the current DEIB tech market
    • In previous years, leaders were especially focused on gender; in 2020-21, the emphasis has evolved to include a focus on race and ethnicity.
    • Social justice movements and conversations around discriminatory workplace practices and behaviors have led to greater attention to inclusion than ever before.
    • The role of AI in mitigating bias to enhance DEIB has come front and center, and more approaches have been introduced to address this issue.
  2. The DEIB tech market is hotter than ever
    • The global market size is estimated to be $313 million and growing, up from $100 million in 2019.
    • The number of HR tech vendors offering features or functionalities that cater to DEIB as part of their solutions has increased by 136% since 2019.
    • The total number of DEIB tech vendors increased by 87%, with a total of 196 vendors in the market for 2021, compared with 105 in 2019.
  3. People analytics for DEIB has arrived
    • Lack of analytics and insights on DEIB is the primary challenge the majority of vendors help their customers solve, hence the growing number of solutions. providing DEIB analytics in 2021 compared to 2019 (28% vs 26%, respectively).
  4. Small-sized organizations and knowledge industries remain the main customers of DEIB tech
    • The largest customer category is small-sized organizations (those with less than 1000 employees), who represent almost 30% of all DEIB vendor customers.
    • However, these small organizations represent a smaller percentage of DEIB vendor customers in 2021 than in 2019, and there was an increase in the percentage of customer organizations in the 10,000-50,000 range.
    • The industries most likely to be DEIB tech customers are concentrated in knowledge industries, namely technology, financial, banking, and insurance.

Check Out the Full Study and Tool

The full study (available to members) has lots more information than what we’ve detailed here, including many more details on the market, customer quotes and feedback, and checklists for leaders interested in DEIB tech.

In addition, we encourage you to check out the brand new, fully redesigned DEIB Tech tool, which is available both to members and non-members. You can look at the 196 vendors in each of the four talent areas and their relevant sub-categories. RedThread members can click through and see details on individual vendors.

Figure 1: DEIB Tech Market Tool | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.



Figure 2: DEIB Tech Market Tool, Categories Selected | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.

RedThread members can see the areas of talent vendors focus on, the top industries served, vendor capabilities, strengths, challenges addressed, and customer feedback (see Figure 3). We provide the maximum amount of information we can, based on what vendors shared with us or what we were able to find publicly available. This tool is designed to be evergreen, so it will be updated continuously as we conduct briefings throughout the year.

Figure 3: DEIB Tech Market Tool, Example of Vendor Detail Page | Source: RedThread Research, 2021.


A Thank You

This study involves a significant time investment from everyone who participated in its development. We want to thank all of the vendors and customers who gave their time, energy, and expertise to make this such a robust study and tool.

If you have any questions about this research or about becoming a RedThread member, please contact us at [email protected].



DEIB Technology Tool

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 at 1:08 PM    

DEIB Technology Tool

This tool provides information for leaders, their teams, and their orgs on DEIB tech vendors, the capabilities they say they offer, and their company details. To learn more about the DEIB tech landscape, read the
DEIB Tech 2021 Overview of the report.


Explore the tool

  • Click to select the boxes. The vendors that offer solutions in the selected categories will display in a list below the tool.
  • To search for a particular vendor, click the magnifying glass icon.
  • RedThread members who are logged into the website can click on vendors' names to view more details.
  • Click twice on the circular arrow to clear filters and start over.
  • Hover over any field to see a definition of that term.

New vendors

If you would like to be included in our tool, please take our survey!

Existing vendors

If you are already included in our tool, but would like to share updated information, feel free to reach out to us!

Give feedback

We'd love your suggestions for how we can improve this tool.
Or just email us at [email protected]!

This tool provides information for leaders, their teams, and their orgs on DEIB tech vendors, the capabilities they say they offer, and their company details. To learn more about the DEIB tech landscape, read the
DEIB Tech 2021 Overview of the report.


Explore the tool

  • Click to select the boxes. The vendors that offer solutions in the selected categories will display in a list below the tool.
  • To search for a particular vendor, click the magnifying glass icon.
  • RedThread members who are logged into the website can click on vendors' names to view more details.
  • Click twice on the circular arrow to clear filters and start over.
  • Hover over any field to see a definition of that term.

New vendors

If you would like to be included in our tool, please take our survey!

Existing vendors

If you are already included in our tool, but would like to share updated information, feel free to reach out to us!

Give feedback

We'd love your suggestions for how we can improve this tool.
Or just email us at [email protected]!

Quick Summary: Preparing for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in 2021

Posted on Tuesday, December 29th, 2020 at 1:00 AM    

In light of the events of 2020, organizations and leaders face greater expectations to act on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), expand their current efforts, and enable honest conversations on DEIB topics. As they prepare for 2021, DEIB leaders looking to develop their strategy should approach it by focusing on six areas. This infographic summarizes our findings on those 6 areas and what leaders can expect in 2021. For more, read our reportDiversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging: Creating A Holistic Approach For 2021 

Click on the image below to get the full infographic. As always, we would love your feedback, which you can provide in the comments section below the infographic. 


What Do You See? 2021 Trends Q&A Call

Posted on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 at 2:00 AM    

Q&A Call Video


Introduction/What Are You Seeing?

Dani Johnson (00:00):

Okay. So I think we're recording. Let's just check that really fast. Yeah. Okay, great. Great. So we got that whole conversation right there on tape, I think it'll be riveting for those listening later. But welcome to our last Q and A call of the year where we're going to be talking about 2021 trends. Some of the things that we've seen this year, and some of the things that we have a really good feeling are going to drip over into next year. And I'm here with Stacia Garr we're co-founders and principal analyst of RedThread Research. And I have a dog barking under my desk. So if you hear it, that's what that is just a brief introduction to RedThread. If you're not familiar with us, we are a human capital research membership firm, and we focus on things like learning and career and performance and people analytics, diversity and inclusion has been big for us this year. And all of the technology associated with any of those things. We also cover pretty in depth. Especially this time of year, we get a lot of, we get a lot of pieces out on learning technology.

Stacia Garr (01:07):

Yep. And just to put a finer point on that. So we just launched the formal membership here in December for folks who don't know there's still quite a lot of content available for, for those who are maybe not quite yet ready to become a member. But the idea is, is to kind of formalize the membership and also allow us to do research that's not sponsored. So it's gonna allow us to expand the breadth and the type of research that we do here in 2021.

Dani Johnson (01:39):

Awesome. So today we're going to talk about 2021 trends. We're going to want to start with a question for those of you who are out there. We obviously don't know everything and we say that regularly. We would love to understand what you're saying, what you think trends will be in the upcoming year. So you can either use the chat we're big on chat for introverts, but also if you have, if you just, we've given everybody permission to talk. So let's just have a conversation about some of the trends that we're seeing out there.

Speaker 1 (02:19):

This is Speaker 1. My favorite topics are the digital learning, of course. So if everything's online, if everyone's working from home, if everyone is now needing to be sort of working remotely and independently you know, that affects the tools and technologies that affects performance and goals. What skills and strengths do you need now compared to before? So much of that just goes under, you know, the large heading of digital. And then also like you mentioned, the I liked how you included the phrase belonging in your diversity and inclusion, and so kind of that engagement piece. So, you know, how do people connect in 2021 when you're digital?

Stacia Garr (03:17):

Great. Yeah, and we we actually had a big debate about that internally because we were, you know, the move seems to be to DEI diversity, equity and inclusion. And, you know, I think that belonging piece is really important and we're like, well, it's, you know, four letter for four words, is that too much for an acronym? And we just said, you know what, we're just gonna, it's, it's everything. So we're, we're doing all four.

Dani Johnson (03:43):

I think you hit on a couple of really good ones, Jackie, and some of the things that we're seeing, so learning obviously is expanding quite a bit. And then, and then obviously the diversity and inclusion we've seen sort of ramp this year as well. What are others seeing?

Speaker 2 (04:06):

Hi, this is Speaker 2. Can you hear me? So I knew you know, at my organization, a lot of our current work is really focused on on skills and just, you know, kind of individualizing learning experiences for people so that they are able to improve specific skills that they want in relation to their job or future roles. So that that's something that, you know, I foresee us being focused on next year is personalization. And then how do we help people acquire new skills, right. That they're gonna need and kind of keep up with the evolving change of, of, of their roles within the organization.

Dani Johnson (05:08):

Yeah, I think you're right. So I think we've seen that discussion go on for a while now. And I think we're at the point where it's actually gonna do some good, this whole idea of skills. One more, one more comment before we move on in chat says continuing performance management, and what skills of the future look like, how they'll evolve and how do we prepare people for them. So kind of along with what's he saying skills. Anything else before we move on?

The 10 Big Trends

Trend 1: DEIB Critical To All People Practices

Dani Johnson (05:44):

All right. So Stacia and I recently put together our research roadmap for the coming year, and we're seeing basically 10 big trends and they've kind of fall in buckets. So we want to talk through these trends very quickly before we get to the questions, we had a lot of really good questions that were submitted this time. So the first one that we're seeing is DEIB be critical to all people practices. And I'm going to actually let Stacia talk about that one first.

Stacia Garr (06:09):

Yeah. So I think for those of you, who've seen research that I've done in the past on DEIB our recent strategy report that just came out a couple of weeks ago, the integration of DEIB into everything else that we do is something that we've been talking about for a long time, but it feels like now we're seeing that catch up everywhere else. Which is really exciting whether that's from a, you know, just a general practices and awareness perspective, but also from the tech we're going to be publishing our DEIB tech report the second week of January. And so we're going to talk a lot about some of the changes that have happened there, but I think the most remarkable one and this is a little preview for you all, is that we've actually seen the market size increase by three times since when we did the study in 2019, we published in January, 2019, so two years ago.

Stacia Garr (07:07):

And we think that that just incredible market growth reflects the fact that people are looking to integrate across all the different practices and interested in how tech can be used to, to accelerate that. I know we've got a question a little bit more deeply on, on the tech side of this. So I won't jump to that too much right now, but we just are seeing this show up much more broadly has felt like for a number of years, we were kind of saying this was important and now we're seeing people reflect it back to us, which is really exciting.

Dani Johnson (07:36):

Yeah. And I've been surprised at how much it's creeped into some of the other discussions like skills and, and mobility, for example, it's, it's becoming an imperative to pay attention to an all these other areas.

Trend 2: Managers as connectors

Dani Johnson (07:47):

Same thing we're seeing is a managers as connectors.

Stacia Garr (07:51):

Yeah. So this one is in my space as well. So for those of you who follow our stuff, you may have seen that we did a big study on managers that came out in mid October and what we did there was, it was so cool. Like we do a lot of research and I think all of it's cool, but like this piece was really cool because we had done a snapshot of organizational and manager behaviors actually this time last year, literally actually I remember we closed the survey on December 17th, so literally a year ago. And then, so it was right before the pandemic started. And then we were able to do a comparison of what was happening with managers and their behaviors during the pandemic. So we've rerun the survey in September and October of this year. And one of the shifts that we saw, well, we actually saw two big shifts in that study.

Stacia Garr (08:39):

One was that the amount of autonomy that individual employees felt they had went up as you would expect with what happened with the pandemic. But then second, they said that managers were much more open to new ideas, which was, which was really good. And what you would hope for. The challenge we saw was that pretty much every other support, whether it be through the manager or through the organization, every other support that employees received went down. And so as you think about moving into our, you know, whatever this, this new reality is going to look like, we know that a big portion of it is going to be a higher percentage of workers who are remote. And because of that their managers are going to be even more important than in the past. And in many ways the managers are going to be the connector to the organization in a way that wasn't necessarily as true in an office setting. And so we think that as we look to the future, the question is, is how, what, you know, better understanding that shift for managers and how managers can help connect employees more broadly into the organization is going to be a big theme for this year.

Dani Johnson (09:40):

The other part of that is a lot of times managers, we haven't talked to one organization where, to who is like, Oh yeah, our managers just kill it. They're awesome. A lot of managers don't have the skills that they need in order to do some of the things that Stacy was talking about. And so we've seen a big uptick in the conversations around performance management and learning and mobility and all of these things where managers are, or managers are a part of those discussions as well, where we haven't necessarily seen that in the past. So instead of sort of a standalone thing, we're actually seeing managers integrated more into these different things as well.

Trend 3: Mobility is a focus

Dani Johnson (10:14):

Third one is mobility. Mobility is definitely a focus. I think part of this is because of some of the things that have happened this year with respect to large swaths of organizations being furloughed hand their skills not being needed right at this very minute, we're seeing this a lot, especially with frontline workers. And so mobility has really become a focus we're in the middle of a research project, actually, we're done with the research part and we're in the writing portion of mobility right now. And one of the really interesting things is the switch in the past mobility has mostly been used for retention and for engagement purposes. And now we're seeing organizations also include things like need making sure that we've got the skills in the right place, making sure that we have the right skills. And so moving people around to develop those skills, et cetera. The other thing that we're seeing where it comes to mobility is a lot of our vendor friends have come to us and said, Hey, we've got this new mobility project or product. They would really like you to see and give us feedback on. So it's not just the learning leaders and the business, the people leaders that are seeing this it's also is the vendors that are recognizing that this is a thing and will probably continue to be a thing into the future.

Dani Johnson (11:28):

Any, any comments on that Stacia? Any thoughts?

Stacia Garr (11:31):

Well, I think, you know, it, it ties into some of the other things that you're going to mention here, but, but you know, the focus on skills and kind of, you know, skills, not in isolation, but skills is kind of part of an enablement of other things that are really important

Dani Johnson (11:44):

For sure. And if you've seen a theme so far with just these three it's that some of those walls between some of the silos we've seen within the people practices are really breaking. And we're having to have wider discussions across the organization about how we deal with people on how we help people rather than staying within our talent acquisition and our learning and our performance silos.

Trend 4: Definition of "learning" expands

Dani Johnson (12:05):

The next one is the definition of learning expands. And we've been talking about this one for a while now, but in the past six to seven months, we've seen this really sort of accelerate. We're no longer just talking about courses and we're no longer just talking about the LMS. We're actually defining, learning very broadly. What does it take in order to help people plan? How do we helping people discover what they need? How do we help people experiment? What's our, what's our take on failure in the organization and how can we get people to learn from them? All of these things sort of wrap around this idea of learning, which we're sort of moving toward employee development, because we think that's a more inclusive term. How are we, how are we developing people in our organization to get not just them where they want to go, but where to get the organization where it needs to go. And we think we'll continue to see that through this year and probably beyond that.

Trend 5: Not just skills, skills as an enabler

Dani Johnson (12:58):

And then the final one, a couple of you have mentioned already is skills. We've actually been following the skills conversation for years. Like we started, we started listening about four years ago and I've had regular conversations with companies like Deloitte and Microsoft to kind of understand how they're viewing it and what they're doing and what they see as important. One of the things that we find really interesting about the last six months is we're not just talking about skills, we're talking about skills as an enabler. And so until the, the, the COVID crisis gathering skills and figuring out a skills data was more of a a conversation that we were having with ourselves rather than figuring out what to do with that information to help actually enable things in the organization. And so some of the things that we've seen over the last little while is we can barely have a conversation about mobility without also talking about skills.

Dani Johnson (13:52):

We can't, we seem to be running into diversity, inclusion, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging all the time when we're talking about skills. So all of these things where we're talking about, you know, giving people opportunities to develop these skills and moving people in the organization to develop these skills, have that diversity and inclusion component associated with them. And the same thing with data, why are we collecting this data? Where's this data going, what's it going to do, et cetera. And so we think the conversation is shifting from skills and re-skilling, and the whole sort of philosophical discussion that we've been having for four years on skills. We think it's finally firming up a little bit and we're using skills as an enabler. We're going to do the skill thing, but why are we going to do these, the skill thing we're going to do it for very specific reasons within the organization? Any thoughts, there Stacia?

Stacia Garr (14:39):

Yeah. And I think that, that this also ties in really well to this you know, the, the heating up of the market around, you know, specifics skills and specific needs that organizations have moving forward. And so we're starting, I feel like we're starting to see a lot more specificity and it ties into actually our next trend here, but a lot more specificity around what are the skills that we need, not just like, Oh, the, the, you know, like top 10 general skills we need in 2021. But like, as an organization, as we're actually doing our planning, what are the, what are the skills into what extent do we need them in order to do X, Y or Z thing? So it just feels like it's kind of gone from being up here in the sky and a little bit ephemeral to a lot more concrete around what we're trying to do.

Dani Johnson (15:25):

Yeah. I think you're right. And I think it's also changed the way that organizations are thinking about their people. So up until about six months ago, we were talking mostly about, okay, how do we get the skills? And a lot of times the question was we buy them. But, but since, since there's a shortage of pretty much everything right now we're seeing organizations say, okay, well, how do we develop these skills, and what people need to develop these skills and all of those kinds of conversations have come in that, that weren't there before that I think makes the skills discussion much more interesting and much more concrete and much more actionable.

Trend 6: Data as a crucial element of success

Dani Johnson (15:55):

Data as a crucial element of success.

Stacia Garr (16:01):

Yeah. And so, and so this ties in really well, you know, it's fun cause Dani and I kind of, we have our swim lanes to a certain extent, but they often intersection and the skills conversation is actually one of the biggest examples of how they've been intersecting. So so Dani has been doing a lot of work on kind of skills from a learning perspective and what's happening there. And then I've been doing a lot of work in understanding skills from a data perspective. And, and what's fascinating, isn't in so many organizations, those too late to parallel paths remain parallel and they're, they are not intersecting. And so a big thing that we're going to talk about this year is, is how should they be intersecting? Cause there clearly is talking about the same skills, the same people, the same need in the organization, but it's just tends to happen in two different parts of the organization.

Stacia Garr (16:48):

And so skills is a great example of that with, with data. But I think there's a lot of others. For, again, for those of you who follow what we do, we just publish the people analytics tech study last week. And in that we talked a lot about kind of just a range of, of capabilities that that technologies are now offering folks. And I think the underlying message though from 2020 was that tech, or I'm sorry, that people analytics and then the tech that enables it is more important than ever, you know, as we saw workers go into to leave the office and work from home, there was this incredible sense from leaders that we don't necessarily know what's happening. We don't know what's happening necessarily from an engagement perspective or what's working or what people need. And so we saw the role of people, analytics just really shine this year.

Stacia Garr (17:37):

And I expect that shine not to come off, if you will. You know, I think that now that people have kind of seen the value of it, they're not going to be willing to relinquish it. And so we see that particularly for employee engagement and experience, but we're also seeing that more broadly as we start to see different platforms that can bring in a whole lot of different information and to give us a much more nuanced understanding of what's happening for people, what helps them achieve success and also what are some of the warning signs that we should be looking for? So I just think that we're going to continue to see 2021 as a year to bring in data and to start to really do this analysis with the idea that it will really begin to impact business outcomes in a very large and meaningful way in 2022.

Dani Johnson (18:20):

Yeah. I think one of the outcomes of that too will be that all of the people practices are going to have to start thinking differently about how they do their job, because if you think about it up until fairly recently we've all used our gut to determine whether we hire somebody or, you know, where we move people or all of those things have been largely, you know, how someone's performing has been largely based on gut, but with some of the things that we've seen this year with, with data and technology, we have a much more unbiased view that helps us make decisions better, but also that we can push down to individuals to help them make, make decisions better, which I'm pretty excited about.

Stacia Garr (18:55):

Yeah. And it, and it connects back to the point around DEIB being integrated with everything. You know, that's one of the biggest opportunities is this connection between DEIB and data and people analytics using it to make less biased decisions, help us understand where bias may exist in organizations and to flag that in critical moments of decision-making. We're gonna dig into that topic in Q1. Because I think I've, to be honest, I've been just trying to get there is Dani now for the last three or four months, and we just had other things on the agenda that had to get finished up. But for me, I think that's a huge topic for 2021

Trend 7: Humanizing of human resources

Dani Johnson (19:32):

Humanizing of human resources. I think this is a really interesting one to talk about right after we talked about data. Sometimes we think of data as sort of non-human and cold and exacting. But what we're seeing is that some of this data is being used to actually humanize human resources a little bit more. I think we're also seeing it, this idea of humanization, when we think about kind of how we've addressed this crisis versus how we addressed the last crisis, it's pretty different. So in 2008, a bunch of people got laid off. We didn't, we were more concerned about the world in the economy and the business. And we were about those people this time around, it seems a little bit different. And I don't know if it's because of, because COVID is a really personal thing, or maybe I'm hoping we've evolved as the human race just a little bit, but we are starting to understand that, that the human part of human resources is a really, really important thing. So we've talked about that with the DEIB, we've talked about it with managers and making sure that they connect people, talked about it with that data and how it helps us become more human by making better decisions and less biased decisions. But we think in general, sort of the humanizing of human resources and the experience associated with working we'll continue along that path.

Dani Johnson (20:45):

Any thoughts there Stacia?

Stacia Garr (20:49):


Dani Johnson (20:49):

Apologies for putting you on the spot there.

Trend 8: Purposeful, holistic employee experience

Dani Johnson (20:53):

Purposeful holistic employee experience.

Stacia Garr (20:58):

Yeah. So again, this year we spent a lot of time talking about purpose and the role of purpose and organizations and, and the and how we've seen that kind of tying back to what Dani just said, seeing that really show up in the midst of this pandemic. And, and we expect that to continue in the purpose research, we talked about, you know, it's this just a fad, this whole focus on purpose. And we think not for a whole bunch of reasons that I could go into, but I think that, that, that this focus on connecting having a clear organizational purpose and enabling employees to connect their own purpose to it is going to continue tied into that is this idea again, of this holistic employee experience. And I think there are actually two ways to read holistic. One is you know, is actually Jackie mentioned at the beginning, there has been this big shift to digital.

Stacia Garr (21:49):

And before the pandemic, I felt like we were talking about kind of the digital workplace and then the, you know, in-person workplace and with the pandemic, we've really seen those to integrate and have to think about kind of this more holistic perspective of what does an employee experience mean. Now, when you, when you layer in purpose into that, I think you're not just talking about kind of the nuts and bolts of an employee experience, but really about how does all of that come together and enable an individual to achieve their purpose and enable the organization to achieve the purpose. Their purpose is we think as we look to 2021, we're going to start to see, we are already seeing all of those things kind of meld together in a way that I think is much more holistic and much more, again, human than what we've seen in the past. So not just a digital experience, not just an in-person experience, but really all purposeful holistic employee experience.

Stacia Garr (22:41):

Dani, did you have anything you want to add there?

Dani Johnson (22:42):

Yeah, I think again, that, that data is helping us provide that really personal experience to individuals. And so it's, we're not doing, we're not putting in people in personas anymore. We're not talking about job roles anymore. We're talking about providing that employee experience. That's really personal to the individual and we're able to do that because of some of the advances we've seen in data and technology,

Trend 9: Building networks, changing work

Dani Johnson (23:02):

Building networks and changing work. And I'm going to let, Stacia start on this one too.

Stacia Garr (23:06):

Yeah. So one of the outcomes of the pandemic and people working remotely is that and we know this from a number of the organizational network analysis vendors is that we are seeing people strengthened their immediate network and their immediate relationships with the people that they work with on the day-to-day, but their weaker connections are dying away. And that is problematic for a couple of reasons on the individual level. We know that diverse people tend to have led to be in lower power networks and so, and have weaker connections to higher power networks. So if we think about kind of all the benefits of diversity and all the need to accelerate the, the rise of diverse individuals in the organization that weakening of those networks is a challenge. And then secondly, for the organization, we know that if we have less diversity, we have less of all sorts of other benefits including critically innovation.

Stacia Garr (24:02):

And so, as we think about kind of longterm moving in this new world of, of how we're going to work together you know, there will be a larger percentage of the workforce who are remote. So we've got a real nut to crack we think around how do we make sure that people are still building networks, still making connections? You know, we talked about managers as connectors and that's great, but we all know that that cannot be the only, or the strong, you know, just the it needs to be one of many strong connections. And so we think there's a conversation here around how do we make sure that people are being connected in ways that are meaningful, that allowed them to grow, that allowed them to get access to the opportunities they need with an overall benefit to the whole organization.

Dani Johnson (24:42):

And I think the other part of that, that trend that we're seeing is the changing of work we're seeing work, adjust to accommodate remote better than it ever has before. And the whole world is talking about this right now. So we're not going to address it too much right now, but it will probably, it will most likely, it'll definitely creep into some of the things that we write about because it literally having a remote workforce. And some of the things that have happened this year literally changed the way that we work.

Trend 10: Acceleration…of everything

Dani Johnson (25:07):

And our final one is the acceleration of pretty much everything. So just an example of this, we had a conversation with an organization that was trying to implement an LXP, a learning experience platform at the beginning of the year. And they had this year and a half long plan, and they were going to roll it out to different parts of the organization at different times, et cetera, et cetera.

Dani Johnson (25:28):

And then COVID hit and they were, they had everybody online within three weeks. So one of the things that we think will take a lot of time don't necessarily take the time we think they will. And we're seeing this in pretty much everything. So diversity and inclusion has stepped up, but this year learning has stepped up this year. And the importance of managers has stepped up pretty much everything on this slide has, has been accelerated at least a little bit by COVID in some of that, the DEIB challenges with that we've seen this year, and we don't necessarily think that's going to slow down now that we know that we can get stupid work out of the way and do things faster. And we think it's probably going to continue. Any thoughts there Stacia?

Stacia Garr (26:11):

No, I agree. I think I'd love to hear what other people think though, now that we've kind of laid out our 10 for 2021,

Dani Johnson (26:19):

Any thoughts on this and please feel free to use the the chat as well.

Speaker 1 (26:29):

This is Speaker 1 again, I love the example that you just gave where under previous project planning, that's a year, year and a half, but under crisis it's three weeks. Like that's amazing. It'd be interesting to follow up with them in a year to see, you know, and how's it going now? You know, did it, did it all fall into place just like you expected?

Dani Johnson (26:50):

Yeah, no, I think you're right, Jackie. And we definitely will. I'd love to, I'd love to understand kind of what happens with that organization. I think sometimes we're afraid to introduce change into an organization because we're afraid of the pushback when everybody's sort of rallied around one, cause things tend to go smoother. And so it'll be interesting to see how much change we can continue to push without sort of that, that unifying challenge and bolt says, I love the holistic employee experience, huge topic for us.

Speaker 1 (27:20):


Dani Johnson (27:22):

Any other thoughts here before we move on to your questions or anything we missed or anything we missed?

Stacia Garr (27:27):

We have plenty of contenders who almost made this list.

Dani Johnson (27:39):

Okay. Please continue to comment and share Stacia and I are big on making sure that everyone understands that we don't know everything and how we learn and how we develop and how we make this. The most useful thing possible is to integrate other people's ideas and thoughts and questions. So the questions that we got we got a good chunk of questions we chose about eight of them.

Are there any "usual" trends that override disruption?

Dani Johnson (28:00):

The first one is, are there any usual trends that override disruption? Which we thought it was a really interesting question and we actually put it at the front because we wanted to talk a little bit about it. Just kind of going back to the trends that we've talked about. Some of the things that have been ramping for years now is diversity and inclusion. The DEIB has been ramping for years, the learning trend, it used to be not that that important within organizations and now has become very important, not just to individuals, but also to senior leaders. Data has been ramping for a really long time as well. So we think some of these definitely overrides sort of the crisis that we're in, which means they probably have a longer, their trajectory is still going up. Stacia anything to other,

Stacia Garr (28:46):

Yeah. I think employee experience and purpose. I think that that's another one, you know, again, back to our purpose research you know, we talked about how the business round table made their change to the statement on the purpose of a corporation in August, 2019. So that was clearly before this. And you know, the business round table doesn't do anything until it let's just say they're not the fastest moving most on the cutting edge of, of stating these types of changes. So I think they were really kind of an indication of a long lead up to this focus on broader purpose in stakeholder capitalism. So we think that one and then that integration with employee experience again, was something that we were seeing before this. So I'd just underscore that one too, right?

Stacia Garr (29:32):

Any thoughts from, from you all, are there trends that you've seen sort of accelerated by COVID, but maybe were in place before?

Speaker 3 (29:48):

This is Speaker 3. I have seen a lot more interest in how do we communicate, not just what programs are in place for DEIB, but how do we effectively communicate and connect all of our staff to these initiatives? So before it was a lot of people would just be doing it or not a lot, but some people would be working on it. But now we see more people, I should say more executives than at the board level of the companies that I'm working with are connecting and wanting to make sure that their entire company knows their role in DEIB.

Dani Johnson (30:25):

Yeah. I really like that example. I think that's sort of a perfect example of what we're talking about here. DEIB, we've been, we've all been given it sort of we've, we've been talking about it for years, but now it goes clear up to the board level of Stacia was telling me before this call that we've never seen a higher need for, what did you call them Stacia? The Chief Inclusion Officers?

Stacia Garr (30:46):

Chief Diversity Officers.

Dani Johnson (30:49):

Officers at the top of the organization who are actually giving some real time and effort and consequently budget to, to some of these things that we've been trying to solve for years with volunteer panels and things like that.

Stacia Garr (31:01):

Yeah. Yeah. Just to kind of, to jump on that, you know, we've we published this DEIB strategy report, and one of the things we talked about there was the executives are more open to the DEIB topic more broadly, and I have this is totally a thought experiment, but I'm going to share it with you guys. Cause I think it's kind of interesting. I wonder if part of the reason for the greater openness and the greater desire to move the needle here is that we, by when the social justice movement started this summer at that point we were depending on where you were roughly around three months into the COVID crisis. And I think that through COVID a lot of executives got a whole lot more comfortable with being able to say we don't necessarily know all the answers, this is hard.

Stacia Garr (31:52):

We're doing our best. We're, you know, a much more compassionate, empathetic, open, and potentially vulnerable leadership approach than what we would have seen, you know, six months prior. And so I wonder if some of this greater openness and some of this greater desire to actually maybe properly fix some of the DEIB challenges we have was a result of leaders already kind of having just gone through this, you know, very challenging initial experience with, with COVID and having already adopted kind of a more empathetic posture. So we'll, we'll see if that's kind of a long-term change and if that continues to play out. But I do have a strong hunch that that may have contributed to this greater level of openness.

Speaker 2 (32:38):

Hi, this is Speaker 2, Stacia. Just to kind of jump off of what you were saying. I've noticed in the organization that I am in very heavy involvement, like up to the CEO receiving, you know, emails and messages, even like you know, senior VP leader of leaders, of business units, holding all day conferences and just kind of having their face and their thoughts and out there. Which I think is really interesting because that, that's sort of the first time I'm seeing this embrace by senior leaders all the way up to the CEO being very vocal about this topic.

Stacia Garr (33:25):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, that that's something we heard from a lot of folks when we did the interviews for that study. And I think it reflects this broader shift that we've seen actually in the in the Edelman trust barometer, where they talk about they, they Edelman focus on within the U S but, you know, by and large us consumers expect companies to do something about social justice and about diversity equity, inclusion, belonging in their organizations. And I think that is actually then translating to action. There was a really cool data point and I need to see if there's an updated one where it said that in Q1. So just before the kind of the pandemic really got going the just 4% of S&P 500 companies talked about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging on their earnings calls with investors. And in Q2, that number shot up to 40%. And so I think, you know, there is this heightened awareness that DEIB can have such big impacts on the organizations. And so there is a that greater executive embrace as you mentioned, Speaker 2.

Speaker 2 (34:36):

Yeah. And I think even just showing vulnerability in terms of like, you know, we don't have the answers, we want to work on finding solutions. And you know, we, it's important to keep talking about it and keep the dialogue open. So I think just, you know, whereas before it, might've kind of been not addressed or kind of swept under the rug, like we don't need to address this. I find that leaders are now getting at the forefront of it and addressing things that you know, incidents of social injustice that might happen and say, you know, this is unfortunate. We don't have the answers, but, you know, feel free to reach out if you want to talk about it. So,

Stacia Garr (35:23):

Yeah, definitely. And Marlene, I see your comment. I'll see if I can find the study and send it out to you all. It was RBC. Did the, did the research.

Dani Johnson (35:36):

just to wrap this one, someone says that he and his organization, they're seeing more interest in visual collaboration and digital workspaces as people move as people, as more people work from home. And I think that's, I think that's awesome, first of all. And secondly, I think it's needed we've seen more acceptance of some of the things that we use as well. We use a tool called Miro and we've been able to take that into a couple of organizations and introduce them to something like that that allows you to still do some of those sort of hands-on group activities that need to be done in order to get the work done and in a digital way. So we're thinking, that's fantastic.

How are organizations putting their 2020 DEIB commitments into action?

Dani Johnson (36:11):

The next couple of questions have to do with DEIB. So we'll continue that conversation. How are organizations putting their 2020, their DEIB commitments into action in 2021? And do you have examples?

Stacia Garr (36:25):

Yeah. So, and, and I'd love other folks comments and thoughts here, but I'll kind of kick us off here. You know, one of the things we saw was immediately after the murder of George Floyd that a lot of organizations made kind of very public commitments with regard to what they were going to do with DEIB. So, you know, for instance, we saw like you know, Adidas saying that they were going to fill 30% of their open positions at Adidas and Reebok with lacquer or Latino or Latina candidates. IBM said they were not going to offer or research facial recognition technology because of potential human rights abuses. We saw Facebook and a whole bunch of other organizations talk about the number of black and Latinx employees that were going to bring into the organization.

Stacia Garr (37:20):

They said they were going to double them. And then there were a whole bunch of organizations that pledged to make large contributions to you know, black lives matter, NAACP ACLU, et cetera, et cetera. So, so we saw a lot of immediate action right after, and then I feel like some of the changes that came down or that I feel like then what has happened is organizations have begun to go away. Do some of the hard work mentioned, you know even in, in, I think there was an article in the wall street journal in July that said the chief diversity officer was the hottest job right now in the market. And, and the number of DEIB professionals I've personally seen, just move has been pretty astounding and used to, and it feels like there's a DEIB role at pretty much every company that wasn't there three months ago.

Stacia Garr (38:07):

So I think right now organizations are starting to do the work of putting more people, more investment into their organizations. But what that's going to translate to on the other side is I think still an open question, you know, there's and then I think there's also a question of how they're going to talk about it because there are a lot of changes that organizations will make, particularly as their results and their, their mix of talent and their focus on accelerating particular types of talent that may not get into the news. It may not be, I'm almost certain, it's not going to be the thing that they put into their CSR ESG reporting. And so I think that there's going to be kind of a dance that organizations have to do as they try to demonstrate that they're walking, you know, that they're walking the talk but do it in a way that one, their legal teams feel comfortable with. Cause that's been a big, you know, throttle on DEIB efforts as well as the publication of what's happening with them. So what their, their legal teams are comfortable with and then also what they feel like kind of furthers their, their talent brand. So I think that there are things that are happening, particularly with regard to talent acquisition, and then also talent mobility. But I think it's going to take a little bit of time for us to see them.

Stacia Garr (39:22):

Do I see your comment if the compensation for DEIB roles will improve? I think, I think it will. And I think it already has begun because the talent market is so tight right now for DEIB roles. So I think that's a good call out.

Dani Johnson (39:34):

I think someone actually surfaced a couple of good questions too. So there's the one, she says, one thing that comes to mind as we talk about one so much focus on moving digital and to DEIB is the need to keep in mind the portion of the workforce that can not work digitally. How are they being supported and included in opportunities, et cetera. So really good question. One of the things that I think we're seeing is some of the technology is allowing us to address some of the challenges with the DEIB, even though those are frontline workers and cannot work digitally. And so even that, well, the aspect of digital that affects them as different, but we're still using some of those digital tools to make sure that we're taking care of them. The other thing that we're seeing just no past, and I think this pretty predates COVID two is more of a focus on frontline workers. So a lot of learning tech and tech in general has been focused on exempt workers, people that work in an office. We've seen that shift a little bit as new tools come out and new awareness comes out of, you know, as organizations realize the value of those workers and understand the need for them to grow and develop as well.

Dani Johnson (40:44):

Any other thoughts or questions on this question? All right.

What are the top 3 DEIB goals that are contributing to DEIB tech buying?

Dani Johnson (40:52):

Let's move on to the second DEIB question, which is what are the top three DEIB goals that are contributing to DEIB tech buying?

Stacia Garr (41:01):

Yeah, so And the pet study, we talk a bit about this. So, so the kind of the top three areas that we saw as a, as an area of focus were employee engagement and experience DEIB analysis and monitoring. And that was a big shift, like a few when we did the study last year that was much lower. So that was number two that showed up number two. And then the third one was performance management when we, when we looked at kind of the, the analytics side. And so when we're thinking about kind of the DEIB intersection here, a lot of it is understanding, you know, amongst those three kind of really critical areas, what's happening with people. What are, what do we need to understand about our different populations and and how their experiences are then influencing their the kind of what's going to happen with the talent pipeline overall.

Stacia Garr (42:00):

So we know that representation numbers are backwards looking. And so now I feel like we're starting to see people trying to use the tech to get a little bit farther back into what's happening and to be able to address things a lot faster, but so, so engagement and experience. Certainly like I said, performance management, because that contributes to our ability to advance people in our understanding of how people are performing and their perceptions of what's happening differently. And then the, I should say from the PAT study the learning and development being the third, third one and the understanding of how those learning experiences are different for different populations.

Dani Johnson (42:40):

Great. Any other thoughts on this question? Okay, let's move to the next one.

How are organizations defining mobility?

Dani Johnson (42:48):

How organizations defining mobility. So one of our, the trends that we mentioned earlier, and one of the things that we've seen craziness around is this idea of mobility, moving people in the organization to different parts of the organization. For some reasons, a couple of the biggest reasons that we see the first and I think probably the oldest is we moved people around organizations to, to retain them, to, to give them experience for sure, but to retain them and engage them as part of that larger employee engagement thing that's happening right now. The other thing that we're seeing since COVID is the, the need to move people around the organization to put the right skills in the right places at the right time. So as large parts of organizations have, have become unnecessary, especially given sort of the situation that we're in, we're seeing organizations really ramp up the skilling three skilling and the development to take tangential skills and turn them into the skills that they need in the organization right now.

Dani Johnson (43:49):

So a large communications organization, for example, had to sort of either furlough all of their retail, or it had to retrain them to, to handle some of the online stuff that was coming in at a greater pace, because some of those retail stores were out of commission. And so that's just one example of the way that we've seen organizations sort of think about mobility differently. Another thing that we're seeing is mobility used to mean moving from one job to another job from one role to another role. And that is also sort of being redefined. It's much more of a, I don't want to, I'm not sure how we're going to say this yet in the research, but it's much more of a, sort of a psychological move. So mobility doesn't necessarily mean picking up and moving somewhere, even though a lot of organizations are still thinking about it, that way mobility actually means working out of wherever you are and getting new experiences and new opportunities while maybe still having your home base, where it was before.

Dani Johnson (44:42):

And we're seeing that manifest itself in things like talent open talent, marketplaces. Some people call them gig economies within the organizations. So they're trying out gigs for two or three weeks. We're seeing it in terms of rotations. So you still belong to a central place. But you have the opportunity to experience some new things. In the military, they call them details and they can be up to a year long. And so this idea of mobility is changing to be much more sort of cerebral than it is physical, which I think is really, really interesting. The research that we have coming out in a little bit, sort of talks about how different organizations handle that differently. We have the latter model, which is moving people up, are really defined the latter on, you know, what your put your next step is. We have the lattice model, which has been talked about for 15 years, which is moving people around to give them more breadth.

Dani Johnson (45:28):

We have the agency model, which is what a lot of consulting firms use, which is organizing the people around the work instead of organizing the work around a predefined organization of people. And then we're also seeing quite a bit of organizations start to talk about external workers. So retiree pools and gig workers and contractors and consultants, and those type of people paying attention to them as part of your talent pool and helping the organization understand what skills they have so that they can also be mobilized within different parts of the organization. So we did this study five years ago. We did it again this time I've learned a lot and things have changed quite a bit about about mobility, but those are the biggest things. People are thinking about it more cerebrally than they have in the past. And we're probably including more, more talent pools and, and, and paying attention to skills that skills data to help people get where they need to go. So I'm gonna stop right there for a second. Any questions about mobility?

Stacia Garr (46:29):

You know, I'll just add, as you were talking. I wonder if like, with some of the changes that we've seen with the workforce, like we know we've seen a large percentage of women go out of the workforce, it's like three to one and we've seen other changes around you know, younger workers. And, and I just wonder if all of that will get connected here into mobility, you know, thinking about those different talent pools differently. And, and also, I mean, it seems funny, but we've kind of stopped talking about the whole, you know, baby boomers leaving the workforce, but it's, it's still happening in very great numbers. And so I wonder if this will all kind of end up coming together, particularly as, you know, as we get a vaccine and as potentially the market starts to take off again.

Dani Johnson (47:20):

Yeah, no, I think that's an interesting thought. And as, as walls in organizations continue to become more transparent and permeable as well. When you retire, you don't necessarily retire. You are put into, you know, you're a lot of people still consult with the organizations that they retire from. And so what does that mean for, for the skills that we thought we were going to lose, but maybe we're not losing and the way that people want to move. The other thing that we're seeing that's really interesting is success has to be redefined in this new, in this new sort of way. Not everybody is going to be CEO. We had one organization actually say that not everybody is going to be CEO. And so how do we help people have the best experience and get the best types of experiences that they want and learn what they want to learn while they're here and be okay if they step out of the organization for a while, knowing that we want to keep that relationship good so that they can come back later. So it's, it seems to be that we're rethinking it and we're not necessarily thinking of ownership anymore, but rather relationship, which I think is a pretty healthy way to think about it.

Dani Johnson (48:20):

All right. Any other thoughts here before we move to the next question?

What are the most important questions that HR leaders are trying to answer with data?

Dani Johnson (48:26):

What are the most important questions that HR leaders are trying to answer with data?

Stacia Garr (48:32):

Yeah, I think I kinda touched on this one earlier. But you know, from our, from our PAT study, like I said, it was in playing engagement experience, D&I performance management and learning and development. And so I think what all of that really points to is trying to understand the employee experience much better and to be able to understand, you know, what's going to happen in terms of our talent retention in terms of, you know, what we're gonna need from a skills perspective what we're gonna need from a new talent perspective versus maybe some of these other talent pools. So we're seeing, seeing kind of a focus there, but most immediately the focus has been how are people doing during COVID. And I think that's gonna continue. One thing that didn't actually show up in the PAT study though, that I also am hearing about anecdotally is that focus on wellbeing and burnout. It wasn't in the study. But I think that in something that we're going to hear more about, particularly quite frankly, as we get into February, you know, and for many, many people, the vaccine is still three, four months off. And it just starts to feel hard you know, a long winter, et cetera. So That's what I think.

How important will attention to the remote work be?

Dani Johnson (49:50):

How important will attention to the remote worker be? Pretty important for the next year. I, and I think it will continue to be important. I think I'm hoping there. One of the things that comes out of COVID is enough time understanding how it feels to work remotely, that we have a lot more sympathy, empathy, and impetus to change the way that we work with with our remote counterparts. This one is always really interesting to me cause I've worked remotely for 15 years. Our entire organization is completely remote. We have people working for us that we've never met face-to-face. And so it's, it's an interesting mindset shift to, to take into account remote workers. But I I'm hoping that this has given us enough empathy to sort of think about it differently, moving on. And I think with that, some of the technology that is surfacing per someone's comment to help us do this better is getting better. It's getting better and it's allowing us to do completely different things. We're not just putting the live experience online now. We're actually doing completely different things that may even be very, say a little bit better than, than in-person in some cases. What do you think Stacia?

Stacia Garr (51:06):

Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. I think we're going to the big challenge. I think one of the big challenges of 2021 is going to be, how do we balance when, which, when people are going back to the office, which people go back to the office, which ones maybe don't and with what frequency, and then, you know, when we've all been remote to any more level playing field in some ways. And so as we manage those in office and remote relationships, how do we make sure that we remain inclusive for those who are remote?

Dani Johnson (51:38):

Any thoughts on this one? All right.

Dani Johnson (51:46):

The next one is when things settle down, will purpose still be a thing.

When things settle down will purpose still be a thing?

Stacia Garr (51:49):

So I think you were going to jump in, I saw you come off mute.

Speaker 1 (51:53):

Oh, I was just gonna say one of the phrases I've heard different people saying to you is others have been remote, just like you gave in your example, it's not new to everyone. So I would hope in 2021, those that are well-experienced with working remotely and keeping engaged and keeping on track can, you know, have the bandwidth to reach out to the ones that are struggling. So maybe like like you said, a level playing field because it's not a new thing. It's just new to everybody all at the same time this year for obvious reasons.

Dani Johnson (52:30):

I think that's a really good point. So back to the purpose question, when things settle down, will purpose still be a thing?

Stacia Garr (52:40):

Yes. As I, as I said before, the purpose was, it was a train that had been coming. And I think it's going to still be here when, when this is all said and done. Now you go back to why organizations, you know, clarify their purpose, you know often a part of it is providing clarity in terms of why we're doing what we do in the face of a lot of other changes. So, you know, some of those changes are technology. So as we have more AI and we have more machine learning, a lot of people have been asking before COVID, you know, what is it that makes us human? What's our unique human contribution. And part of that is aligned to purpose is, is understanding what it is that we uniquely do. You know, the gig economy the ability to work from anywhere enhanced by our increased remote capabilities makes us ask questions about, you know, well, why would I join this organization?

Stacia Garr (53:37):

What do I get, what am I contributing by joining this organization? And having a clear sense of purpose helps answer that question. So I think that there's all sorts of reasons that purpose will continue to be a thing. I think the bigger question though, is we'll the organizations who have clarified or reinforce their purpose through COVID remain as committed to it. Well, we still see the level of commitment that we've seen and, you know, it's easy for, for healthcare organizations, you know, we've, we have this purpose podcast that we're that we're putting out right now. And we've had, for instance, Medtronic and Johnson and Johnson on there, and it's easy for easier for them to clearly articulate their purpose, but will other organizations continue to do so. And I think that for some of them who really are clear on this and believe in, it absolutely will. You know, another interviewee was Rachel Fichter at S&P Global, and, you know, that's a financial services firm, and yet they have a very clear sense of purpose. So I think it'll be interesting to see if there's some drop-off but I think that the fundamental reason for a focus on purpose will not shift.

Dani Johnson (54:50):

I think just because of time, we're going to leave it there. We've gone a little bit over what we usually schedule for a Q and A, we really appreciate everybody who has participated, and we really appreciate those that sent these questions in, because that makes our life much easier. When do we have questions in the Q and A session. This we'll be providing a transcript and a recording to, to those who are members on the site. And if any of you have any follow-up questions or would like to discuss any of these further, or have ideas that weren't shared today, please, please, please reach out your questions and your comments make us smarter. Thank you so much.

Stacia Garr (55:23):

Thank You. Happy holidays!

Your North Star: Purpose (and Tech) During Disruption

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 at 8:11 AM    

The incredible disruptions of 2020 have revealed a lot about both organizations and their employees. In some instances, organizations have leaned into supporting employees and other key stakeholders, while in others, leaders have clamped down, focusing narrowly on serving shareholders. The difference between the two? Having a clear sense of organizational purpose.

In this talk, Stacia Garr shares why it is so critical for organizations and employees today to have a clear sense of purpose (and no, it’s not just because it feels good) and how leaders can use purpose to navigate successfully through the current disruptions. She also explains the role of HR – and HR technology – in helping bring purpose to life, providing suggestions on how leaders can navigate their organizations with purpose today.


The Purpose-Driven Organization

Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 at 6:28 AM    

The flurry of significant events in 2020 have built a sense of urgency to act for the greater good of humankind. As a result, we’ve seen innumerable organizations rise to the occasion — acting with a greater and broader purpose, serving many stakeholders, not just shareholders. We wanted to understand better what is happening now, what we can learn from purpose-driven organizations’ approaches in the past, and what HR’s role is in making organizations purpose-driven.

Click on the image below to get the full infographic. As always, we would love your feedback. If you have thoughts, please share in the comments section below!


The Purpose-Driven Organization: HR’s Opportunity During Crisis & Beyond

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 at 12:18 PM    

The flurry of significant events in 2020 have built a sense of urgency to act for the greater good of humankind. As a result, we’ve seen innumerable organizations rise to the occasion — acting with a greater and broader purpose, serving many stakeholders, not just shareholders.

We wanted to understand better what is happening now, what we can learn from purpose-driven organizations’ approaches in the past, and what HR’s role is in making organizations purpose-driven. To that end, this report answers 4 questions:

  • What is purpose, and how does it differ from other related terms (e.g., mission, vision)?
  • What is HR’s role in creating a purpose-driven organization? What can it control and influence?
  • What does the employee experience look like at a purpose-driven organization?
  • What are some of the purpose-driven practices we’ve seen in response to significant current events?

This research is the culmination of more than 6 months of research, with updates and insights specifically targeted at organizations managing through COVID-19 and the social justice movements of 2020.



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