Posted: 06 Mar. 2020 5 min. read

HR technology’s role in activating a diversity and inclusion strategy

Posted by Matthew Shannon, Kathi Enderes on March 6, 2020.

With multiple generations working together and virtual connectivity to talent across the globe, today’s workforce is more diverse than ever. Organizations have much to gain from tapping into this diversity of experience and perspectives. However, 9 out of 10 organizations we surveyed struggle to create an inclusive culture that leverages the power of that diversity to benefit the organization, the workforce, and customers.1

Rapid advancements in the HR technology solutions market present organizations with mounting options for digitally enhancing the talent lifecycle and creating engaging workforce experiences. Beyond the opportunity to bring talent activities into digital, fast-moving environments, HR technology also provides the opportunity to reflect on the performance and experiences of the entire workforce and create a more inclusive work environment.

What happens when work is inclusive

Today, many organizations are increasingly focused on curating a positive workforce experience. And, while the common priority areas of perks, rewards, and work-life integration are important, they’re not enough to capture the human side of work.2 Our research shows that high-performing organizations fulfill their mission, vision, and values by prioritizing stronger societal and workforce experience impacts.3 Decisions made around tapping technology to help enable a more diverse and inclusive culture should be grounded in these same values.

In addition to the rising influence of the social enterprise, organizations themselves benefit from developing a diverse and inclusive culture. The figure below shows organizations with highly inclusive cultures tend to boast more innovative and agile performance than their lower-performing counterparts and are 8 times more likely to have overall better business outcomes.4

Common benefits of an inclusive culture in high-performing organizations

Those types of strategic advantages in a competitive market serve to incentivize organizations toward creating an inclusive culture, but achieving this culture is no easy task. Organizations must consider the impact of their existing talent approaches on the workforce and reflect on the diversity of experiences. HR technology offers various capabilities to support the talent lifecycle.

HR technology offers diversity and inclusion support across the talent lifecycle

As organizations place increased emphasis on developing a workforce experience that reflects their values and supports diversity and inclusion, solution providers have responded to market demands. While many solutions now offer a range of capabilities focused on experiential learning, process change, data-driven tools, transparency, and accountability,⁵ findings and understanding the specific processes and functional areas where technology can play a role can be overwhelming.

Our research explored this range of technology support across the talent lifecycle, shown in the figure below. The top three functional areas of the talent lifecycle that D&I solutions support are talent acquisition, people analytics, and workforce experience, and engagement.

Talent acquisition is a natural starting point, providing the most direct opportunity for increasing diversity among the workforce by bringing in new talent. People analytics and workforce experience follow closely, helping to provide a better understanding of diversity in the current workforce while identifying where experience and engagement differences might exist. Together these functional areas highlight opportunities for fostering an inclusive environment.

Percentage of HR technology providers supporting D&I across the talent lifecycle

The research also uncovered that HR technology solutions offer different levels of focused support for D&I work, ranging from explicitly dedicated solutions (e.g., targeting specific demographic groups based on gender or race) to more implicitly supportive solutions capabilities (e.g., structured candidate review), which limits the potential for bias.

One strategy—not one solution

Yes, it can be overwhelming to select the most effective option for your organization. But the way to approach selecting technology is to focus on a single D&I strategy rather than on a single solution.

When evaluating HR technologies to support D&I efforts, it’s important to keep in mind that no technology can “solve” all of an organization’s D&I challenges itself. Rather, organizations should remain open and inquisitive about the role technology can play in supporting a holistic D&I strategy.



Matthew Shannon is a senior research analyst, Solution Provider Market, at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.


1High-Impact Diversity & Inclusion study, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.
2High-Impact Workforce Experience study, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019.
3Connecting Workforce Experience with Organization Goals and the Humanity of Workers, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP/Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, 2019.
4High-Impact Diversity & Inclusion study, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.
52017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2017.

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