Thursday, March 30, 2023

90% of Global Businesses Struggle With Diversity and Inclusion Practices

90% of Global Businesses Struggle With Diversity and Inclusion Practices

Organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion in their tech teams will benefit from innovation, revenue, and brand value opportunities highlighted in a report, however, 90 percent of global businesses struggle with inclusion and diversity practices within their technology/ IT teams. According to ‘The key to designing inclusive tech: creating diverse and inclusive tech teams’ report by the Capgemini Research Institute, 85 percent of leadership executives believe their organizations provide equitable opportunities for career development and promotions to every employee across their organizations, but only 19 percent of women and ethnic minority employees agree.

Current inclusion and diversity practices in technology are inadequate

This misalignment adds to a perpetuating Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) problem across industries deploying technologies for end-users as leaders believe progress is being made, but tech employees on the ground remain pessimistic about the reality. The spectrum of the perception gap is vast as 75 percent of leadership executives believe that women and ethnic minorities feel a sense of belonging in their organizations, but only 24 percent of these employees in tech functions concur. The report further said 53 percent of women and ethnic minority employees feel comfortable sharing personal experiences with other employees and peers, whereas only 9 percent of them feel the same comfort level with their leadership.

Only 16 percent of women and ethnic-minority tech employees believe that they are well represented in tech teams. Further, in IT/tech teams, only one in five employees is female, and one in six is from an ethnic minority community. When it comes to career opportunities, the gap between non-diverse and male employees and ethnic-minority tech employees and women tech employees is palpable; for instance, just 22 percent of Black tech employees feel they have an equal opportunity to grow compared to their non-diverse colleagues.

The perception gap between leadership and women and ethnic minorities in tech functions on inclusion processes and measures is narrower for organizations with an advanced inclusive culture. When asked whether women and ethnic minorities have equal access to employee resources, groups, and HR as compared to other employees from non-diverse backgrounds, the perception gap between inclusive organizations and the rest is significant (31 percent compared with 55 percent).

Consumers are aware of and are experiencing tech-based discrimination

Consumers are experiencing discriminatory technologies because of deficient diversity and inclusion practices in the tech teams of global businesses. In the financial services sector, for instance, 50 percent of ethnic minorities on average believe they were offered lower credit for certain banking products online, compared to 28 percent of customers who were not from ethnic minority communities. Meanwhile, in healthcare, 43 percent of women and consumers from ethnic minority communities believe they were not shown healthcare facilities in high-end locations or those offering very specialized services. As a result, consumers are concerned about discriminatory technology and are increasingly conscious of how their data is used and how it might impact them negatively. For example, two-thirds (66 percent) of ethnic minority consumers say they worry that their personal data could be used to negatively impact their employment opportunities.

The report highlights that organizations with diverse and inclusive tech teams are 4 times more likely to create inclusive products. Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, and Group Executive Committee Member, Capgemini, said, “In a world of increasing demand for tech-fueled products and services that are free of discrimination and are inclusive by design, the importance of inclusive tech workforces, cultures and practices, is more important than ever.” “And yet, we see a wide gap not only in the state of inclusive representation in the tech workforce of organizations but also in the perceptions of leaders Vs women and ethnic minorities on the state of inclusion in tech. This report draws attention to the urgent need for organizations and leaders to embrace this reality and focus on improving diversity and inclusion in tech teams in a challenging talent environment,” Meera added.

The report suggested that organizations need to build an effective inclusion strategy, beyond upping education and awareness at the highest levels, concludes the report. Organizations need to deploy various processes, policies, and value systems that champion inclusion. This includes diversity and anti-harassment policies, and a clear inclusion mandate for technology teams. Further, the study highlighted that leaders of technology teams need to ensure that women and ethnic-minority employees are given equal opportunities for career growth, progression, and input into product development, while also building the tech and data foundations for measuring, monitoring, and improving inclusion outcomes. Fairness in AI systems must also be deployed while checking and correcting for algorithmic biases. Lastly, organizations must keep diverse users at the heart of their product design, development, and deployment processes.

Capgemini surveyed 500 organizations with one tech employee and one leadership respondent from each organization, a total of 1,000 executive respondents. To capture the end-user perspective, Capgemini also surveyed 5,000 consumers. Capgemini conducted 32 interviews with industry experts, academics, think tanks, start-ups, and anonymized employees from various organizations. The experts and employees were from inclusion and diversity teams; tech and AI teams; UX and UI design teams; and AI ethics and universal design experts.