What’s happening in the world of D&I since February 2019?
Since we published our report early this year, the space and the market has continued to gain momentum. As we had predicted, existing bias within algorithms are coming front and center in the D&I space.1 In May, the U.S congress proposed a law that would hold companies accountable for algorithms that result in discrimination and would require them to regularly evaluate their tools for accuracy, fairness, bias and discrimination.2
As we predicted, existing bias within algorithms are coming front and center in the D&I space.
Bias in artificial intelligence (AI) has become a larger issue as more of it enters our lives. In our broader society, one of the most notable examples is that of gender bias in virtual assistants – that most of these assistants have female names and voices (think Alexa, Siri, etc.) and have submissive personalities. In response, UNESCO recently published a report that points to the importance of digital skills among girls and women and the lack of diversity in the technology sector.3 To challenge these biases, Virtue, the creative agency owned by publisher Vice, in collaboration with Copenhagen Pride, Equal AI, Koalition Interactive and thirtysoundsgood, developed a genderless virtual assistant called “Q”.4 As part of their #BiasCorrect campaign, Catalyst, along with Burns Group, launched a Slack plug-in that alerts the user when biased language is being used against women.5
We heard from a number of new D&I tech vendors after we published our February report.
As technology becomes more advanced and enters into new fields, companies are starting to find unexpected and unforeseen D&I use cases for technology not designed for that particular purpose. One such example is Microsoft, which recently piloted their fingerprint biometrics-enabled cards for social benefits in Mexico’s Sonora state. This technology proved to be extremely popular with the senior population. While the initial objective was to improve safety and security in card related transactions, the elderly population reported they were able to use it with much greater ease. The technology will allow Microsoft to securely, transparently and reliably move funds to the people who might otherwise struggle to access them.6
What have we done in the last six months on D&I tech?
On our end, we have had a lot of conversations about diversity and inclusion and technology. For example, we shared our most recent update on D&I technology at UNLEASH 2019 in Las Vegas and in countless other conversations. In addition, we just launched our new one-page D&I tech infographic, to share our findings more succinctly. Further, we spoke about the power of networks and technology for career women at the ASU/GSV summit and launched a related study on Women, Networks, and Technology. You can see both our review of literature and some of the initial findings from our interviews; the final report will be published later this summer.
Technology providers with engagement platforms are also beginning to highlight the role such tools can play in promoting diversity and inclusion programs in companies through recognition, sharing, and feedback.
What new technology have we seen?
As we predicted, we heard from a number of new D&I tech vendors after we published the D&I tech report. We want to provide you with a round-up of the new technology providers and also update our interactive market map. In the sections below, we review the new technology we’ve seen since launching the report.
As we stated in the original report, talent acquisition has the largest percentage of D&I technology solutions focused on sourcing and selecting diverse candidates. We identified the following new vendors in this space:
- Incluzion is a talent acquisition marketplace that provides companies with a way to recruit, hire and pay diverse freelance talent.
- Mom Source Network offers virtual networking to connect moms to others facing similar challenges and to connect those who are looking to return to the workforce with women currently working.
Talent acquisition has the largest percentage of D&I technology solutions focused on sourcing and selecting diverse candidates.
Develop & Advance
Our study on women, networks and technology led us to discover several vendors in the mentoring/career management space that are focused on career development for women and minority groups:
- Everwise, a mentoring solution, helps companies with development content and curriculum for women leaders.
- River offers mentoring software and services to organizations, helping them support their employee development initiatives such as D&I and Leadership Development through structured formal mentoring programs.
- InstaViser offers cloud-based software that integrates with existing CRM software and other management platforms, helping corporates, academic institutions and non-profits manage and scale their mentorship programs. Features include smart matching, specific diversity mentoring, scheduling, video and audio conferencing, and more.
Engage & Retain
We touched upon the role technology, such as virtual reality, can play in sexual harassment training and in allowing anonymous reporting in our study. Over the course of the past few months, we came across several additional vendors that are developing technologies that help report and address issues of workplace harassment:
- Bravely provides a platform for confidential conversations with coaches, allowing marginalized groups and minorities within the organizations to speak up without the fear of retribution and to talk about issues they face at work.
- Project Callisto provides a platform, called Callisto Expansion, that allows survivors of professional sexual coercion to securely and anonymously store information about their perpetrator. It connects survivors to attorneys who can help them understand their options and available actions.
- tEQuitable helps companies reduce misconduct and proactively prevent bias, discrimination, and harassment. It offers employees a safe place to navigate issues ranging from micro-aggressions/micro-inequities to overt discrimination. The product also provides the company with data on behavioral trends, identifies systemic culture issues, and recommendations for remediation.
- Vault allows users to report sexual harassment in a confidential and safe way. These reports can be kept private until the user is ready to share them with the case manager. The platform also allows other employees to weigh in on an incident at the same time in a structured manner and the reports are time-stamped.
- Another vendor, Woices, also launched a mobile app that allows users to report incidents of harassment and share them anonymously. While still in its initial launch phase, the solution will be able to use AI to identify patterns in reporting and make recommendations based on insights.
In our search, we also came across platforms that allow women to communicate and share openly:
- Elpha is a community where women in tech talk candidly online. One of their recent initiatives focuses on identifying top companies for women, and the results based on ratings and feedback submitted by over 1,000 of their members which will be published on their website.
- Similarly, while not a technology solution, Panda provides a platform for women to connect and network across the globe. Once part of their directory, members can network and exchange ideas through it.
Technology providers with engagement platforms are also beginning to highlight the role such tools can play in promoting diversity and inclusion programs in companies through recognition, sharing, and feedback:
- Inspirus, a Sodexo Group company, promotes diversity and inclusion initiatives through engagement, recognition, micro-learning and events. The Inspirus Employee Engagement platform allows employees to participate in D&I training courses and track their progress, recognize inclusive behaviors, and promote awareness of D&I-focused events.
- Affirmity, focused on analytics and pay equity in the diversity and inclusion space, launched its ERG platform early this year to help organizations manage and scale their employee resource groups. It also offers an ERG mobile app to employees.
- Paygaps.com is a cloud based platform that simplifies the gender pay gap reporting and data analysis process.
Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) is emerging as a growing field that organizations are increasingly looking to use to identify opportunities for greater inclusion, understanding gender differences in behavior, identifying high-potentials, and building more effective relationships with underrepresented populations:
- Humanyze measures collaboration in organizations with advanced analytics, ONA, and behavioral science to increase the speed and accuracy of operational decisions.
- Another ONA vendor, Innovisor helps companies break down collaboration barriers by revealing gender issues and biases.
- Finally, Polinode provides a platform designed to collect, analyze and visualize data on relationships within organizations.
We have also updated our interactive D&I technology market map and moved it to the RedThread website. You can access the new interactive map of the vendors here, as well as the original, comprehensive report here, in which we explore in depth:
ONA is emerging as a growing field that organizations are increasingly looking to use to identify opportunities for greater inclusion.
- The history and advent of this inflection point for D&I
- Detailed market observations and analysis on the D&I technology market
- The trajectory, acceleration and shape of the D&I technology market
- Potential risks and benefits of D&I technology
- Specific types of technology solutions
- Detailed vendor landscape and product offerings
- Case studies and customer perspectives
- Predictions for D&I technology over the next 18 months
As is evident from the number of new additions of technologies over the past few months, the D&I technology market continues to grow rapidly. This has been equally matched by the growing concerns over exacerbating existing bias as well the legal risks associated with them. Incidents of data privacy breaches such as those at Facebook and Google have brought issues of data security and ethics to the forefront, making employees and organizations wary of adopting new technologies. The number of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment have been on the rise as well, as stated by the U.S EEOC’s October 2018 report on sexual harassment.7 Interestingly, there has been a drop in the number of high-profile accusations, which may reflect a change in organizations approach to handling such cases (potentially responding proactively versus reactively).8 As the D&I technology market grows, the human component remains a crucial element. Leading practices, challenges faced, and lessons learned will be crucial sources as organizations look for ways to effectively manage these technologies.
Finally, we will be updating our D&I technology tool on a regular basis as we come across new vendors in this space. If you are a technology vendor in the D&I space and think you should be included in our tool, but are not, reach out to us here.
Appendix A: Table of Referenced Vendors and Capabilities
- “Diversity and Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market”, Garr, Stacia Sherman, and Jackson, Carole, RedThread Research in partnership with Mercer, February 2019, https://redthreadresearch.com/2019/02/05/discover-the-new-landscape-of-di-tech/
- “ The Legislation That Targets the Racist Impacts of Tech”, Kaminski, Margot and Selbst, Andrew, NYTimes, May 07, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/07/opinion/tech-racism-algorithms.html
- “I’d Blush if I Could”, UNESCO, 2019, https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367416.page=1
- “Creative agency Virtue introduces genderless voice Q to challenge biases in technology”, Shu, Catherine, TechCrunch, https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/12/creative-agency-virtue-introduces-genderless-voice-q-to-challenge-biases-in-technology/
- “This Slack plug-in could help you avoid gender-biased language”, Eskalera Blog, March 2019, https://eskalera.com/2019/03/05/catalyst/
- “Mastercard Bets On Biometric Cards To Advance Inclusion”, PYMNTS, June 13, 2019,
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Press Release, October 2018, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-4-18.cfm
- “Sexual harassment allegations are down sharply since Harvey Weinstein first accused”, Cerullo, Megan, June 19, 2019, CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/metoo-index-shows-lowest-rate-of-accusations-since-harvey-weinstein/