#MeToo was obviously and rightfully the theme of 2017 globally in some ways; TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year last year was “The Silence Breakers.”
When I headed to #Unleash18 in Vegas, I expected #MeToo to come up — it was the subject of a panel headed by Stacia Garr of Red Thread Research — but even I underestimated the full scope of the discussion. #MeToo entered into a lot of informal conversations, vendor floor discussions, and other panels where the context was seemingly more about the tech.
But that’s the important thing: tech has flaws, sure, but it could be amazing for recruiting, and especially amazing in diversity and inclusion areas.
To be fair: we can never completely eliminate bias. The “old boys network” may crack, but it will be a while longer before it fully disappears. I hope it happens sooner, and with the way our youngest generations learn, talk, and think make me now believe it is really possible.
Before we get to the lessons of Garr’s session, I wanted to quickly point out Vault, who were finalists in the HR startup competition at Unleash. Vault, created by Neta Meidav, helps women save evidence and shows users if others have named the same offender. In addition to their vetting at Unleash, they’ve been mentioned in recent long-form New York Times articles about tech helping to address #MeToo issues.
As for Garr’s session, we learned more about some companies who are using tech to address discriminatory D&I issues:
SAP SuccessFactors: Uses machine-learning algorithms to predict and flag language that reflects gender bias during the recruitment process. Also has a tool to identify mentors within an organization.
Zugata: Identifies disparities in the language used in performance feedback to make sure managers treat all employee reviews the same, regardless of employees’ gender or race.
Cultivate AI: Analyzes tone and responsiveness of emails, shining a light on how you respond to different groups within your organization.
Textio: Analyzes language in job postings to highlight gender-specific wording.
Greenhouse: Provides nudges to help reduce bias during the hiring process.
Entelo: Recruitment software that allows access to diverse talent and makes applicants “blind” to reduce bias.
Trustsphere: Helps identify the network of each employee and finds hidden stars.
SenseHQ: Analyzes the overall employee experience to find out if different groups have different experiences.
It is encouraging that there’s a lot of people and companies doing this work and trying to apply facets of HR Tech to D&I problems. Not all of these companies specifically work with discrimination or unwanted physical advances, but many of them contribute in some way to making your company a more diverse place, which is obviously great for multiple reasons.
First (and most importantly), the whole idea of diversity shouldn’t be a “business case.” That’s a red flag, as many are pointing out recently. I understand that some men who run companies want things framed this way, but diversity is a moral imperative, not something that needs to be associated with KPIs.
Secondly: women often develop employees better than men do. Shouldn’t we want better-developed employees and companies where women feel comfortable rising in the ranks?
Third: check out this quote from an interview with Tom Peters —
Women buy virtually everything – 80% of consumer goods. Over 50% of commercial goods. [Yet] most organizations still are at the level – particularly in the senior ranks – of 5%, 10% or 15% women. That is stupid.
Broader point: start building companies where women are comfortable and can advance while using their talents and gifts to benefit employees, customers, and the bottom line. That’s part of #MeToo. HR Tech can help, but it is the people part that we need to get to run correctly first.