Discussions about how to measure a company’s diversity have been debated for years, with varying ideas on how to do so most effectively. Adding to the commentary of gauging diversity is the changing landscape of what factors to consider when determining core values.  As organizations move to next generation workforce development, it will be imperative to consider new paradigms and new tools to maximize workforce diversity. 

Most models of measuring diversity value implemented by today’s corporations can be categorized into one of two primary approaches. Qualitative analyses capitalize on the expertise of HR executives’ and managers’ feedback that assesses reports on how teams work together, how the teams view projects and peers working on the projects, and so on.

Quantitative analyses assess more statistical activities, such as how many emails are sent between team members, how a particularly diverse team pairs up against a lesser diverse team, and determining which team is more expeditious at successful job completion. Though quantitative assessments provide more usable data, the results are often hit or miss.

My desire to see a more definitive measurement tool for diversity value has propelled me to create a product that provides systemic analysis and cultural index dashboards for HR executives that can measure diversity from a completely different standpoint.

This approach, which relies on internally-produced data rather than external assessments, utilizes artificial intelligence inside of the organization’s communications resources that collects first-hand employee sentiment directly through team chats, discussion boards and emails. It also employs artificial intelligence bots that cover and oversee compliance of privacy and protection for employees, allowing HR executives to get much closer to employees as they begin company onboarding processes.

I believe this is the direction of next-generation diversity measurement. More than ever before, executives will be able to use digitization to fill the gaps professional HR executives simply cannot cover because of the broad ratio between HR professionals and the number of employees they service, generally speaking.

The Benefits of AI and Virtual Assistance

With an internal AI digitization tool, diversity measurements will come from more altruistic sources: conversations and sentiments that are happening in real time from within the organization. Providing dashboard access to HR professionals will allow them to focus on and gather insights into the organization as a proactive means of driving diversity vs reactive processes. At the same time, executives will be able to reduce the amount of qualitative analyses that are driving HR decisions and produce more data-driven, quantifiable outcomes that will be more believable and actionable.

Further, it can present a historical view that will show and support never-before-seen trends from a broader audience, with more data providing insights needed to drive the organization to a positive culture and inclusion strategy. This will ultimately measure diversity investment against the organization’s critical success factors. At the executive level, diversity will become a more strategic component of the organization, not a forced, mandated application for its workforce.

Virtual HR and AI platforms can also play very important roles in understanding how to tap into the insight of individual employees and help them become high-performing employees. By “listening” more acutely to their day-to-day experiences, orientation processes become extremely deliverable.

Executives will have direct access to the questions employees have, which will allow managers to answer in real time, measure the number of questions coming from onboarding processes and analyze common questions and trends. These executives will also be able to leverage what types of questions are being asked, and by which types of individuals: what questions are coming from women vs men, what age demographics ask particular questions, etc.

Executives can also begin to build a dashboard to understand policy gaps based on questions that are being asked. With this real-time data, they will have a much better understanding of how to onboard and directly support new employees. By understanding where key gaps are and providing around-the-clock feedback on employee perspectives and feedback, executives can take an employee from a marginal state of productivity to a high-performing state – all via artificial delivery.

Applying a Diversity Continuum Philosophy

Along with different considerations for gathering diversity feedback, executives must also consider what kind of data they are receiving and using. Thought and idea generation should be at the core of understanding and measuring diversity, independent of ethnicity and gender. Beyond those two demographics, executives should value the importance of gleaning innovation from the employee base and recognize that diverse opinions more strongly drive a strategy toward a conclusion or an executable, actionable plan.

In context, a group of homogeneous genders and ethnicities will still provide differences of opinions and perspectives. The next generation value proposition for diversity will suggest that, in the aforementioned group, there is nothing that will guarantee the group members will agree on the same ideology or arrive at the same conclusion. This presents the foundation of true diversity: diversity of thinking independent of group placements such as gender and ethnicity.

Adding another gender to that same group will introduce a richer field of opportunity for diversity by factoring in life experiences that are completely different. Executives will now have the ability to measure what it means to have a diverse gender-based team or diverse gender-based perspective. Incorporating ethnicity in the group increases the number of perspectives and life experiences that can be presented, thus increasing the number of possible perspectives and innovatives thoughts, not demographics, that could potentially come out of the group discussions. The culmination could be such a rich, addressable opportunity where innovation, problem solving, workforce efficiency and productivity begin to marry directly to diversity of thought.

After a comparative analysis of the diversity of thoughts, the inevitable conclusion and understanding from the executive level should clearly reveal that diversity is not simply about minority participation. It is about capitalizing talent to the greatest level of high-performing employees, so that executives and managers can address their golden-market strategies in ways that can be more deliberately executed. And, they can take advantage of that through internal AI technologies in ways they never could before, because doing so required meetings with HR to gather external cultural analysis.

Transparency As a Win-Win

The nature of this approach undoubtedly poses several real questions that need to be addressed: Will this type of approach to diversity open employees up to more discrimination, and will it allow the company to measure them in unfair ways? How can they trust this process and be assured that proper, ethical measures will be implemented when using the thoughts and actions that they will be providing? Is there a privacy policy that is disrupted or put at risk, and how can employees secure the data being generated against their actions?

There are two things to note regarding these questions. First, companies that are in highly regulated industries are already watching emails and monitoring data compliance. They are obligated to do so by federal laws that mandate analyses of what is being communicated, and how it is being delivered.

The second key to note is the requirement within this approach to provide transparency and deliver privacy to employees at all times. Because transparency is not guaranteed with traditional performance review systems used in most organizations, this strategy will ultimately impact traditional performance management and performance reviews for the better.

Performance reviews can be subjective to point-scoring perspectives of managers, making it difficult to put quantitative data against the traditional point-scoring performance system.

Through the proposed AI-assisted, open dashboard management system, personality conflicts can be countered with emails and work products that provide proof of objectives being delivered on time and in a satisfactory manner, if indeed they were.

The transparent performance review system that collects quantifiable ideas and information allows user access to their own dashboard at any time. They will be able to see for themselves how gathered data fares against company policies, performance expectations and role responsibilities set by HR.

The complete process not only provides a fair and transparent system that delivers the insights executive teams need, but it also provides insight that the employee needs to move from one performing level to the next and receive specific, goal-driven feedback before the end of the performance review period. This is an extremely powerful tool and process that drives productivity versus traditional methods that have the potential to threaten or intimidate the employee team. Equitable accountability will allow employees to trust the process more from beginning to end because discussions and performance review processes will finally center around data, not perspectives.

Artificial intelligence is not “the future”; it is being utilized now, but not in ways that fully maximize opportunities for professional organizations. Companies that incorporate AI and virtual technologies will introduce high-performance development to employees without having to overextend themselves and costs by hiring individuals to shorten the ratio from HR to employees. Not only that, but companies that wisely embrace these types of technologies to extend their HR capabilities and services to their employees are going to be better positioned to leverage more productivity, innovation and diversity insights than companies that continue to approach HR from a traditional standpoint.

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