The role of technology has widened in businesses from improving operating efficiencies, introducing new channels to customers that potentially increase sales and improving profitability; and, for encouraging and supporting social diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Nevertheless, there still is a lack of inclusivity across UK workforces, and business leaders could be doing much more to improve employee-wellbeing and engagement.
A number of new technologies, such as instant Messaging (IM), web conferencing, webinars, Cloud PBX solutions and AI software have entered the world of business and are making significant contributions towards eroding the barriers to inclusivity that still persist.
Strengthening communication in teams
Businesses today are often spread not only across countries, but also continents. As such, the travel constraints and juggling multiple time zones make meeting in person to discuss key projects, objectives, and next steps all but impossible.
However, ever more reliable super-fast broadband, 4G and LTE networks and advances in technology enable a number of communication tools to remove these barriers to communication, and facilitate greater employee inclusivity than ever before.
Webinars or webcasts enable businesses to ensure that staff are always connected and in tune with important strategy decisionsx, updates and success stories from across the company. Being able to join from any location, the traditional barrier of not being able to be physically present in the room to be included in the discussion is removed.
Slow responses, thanks to email backlog or always being diverted to voicemail, is often one of the biggest barriers to successfully integrating all members of a team. Applications such as Slack, IM and iMeet enable rapid-response communication to questions or issues, regardless of where either party is located. The ability to send quick, often informal messages like “do you have 5 mins?” can remove the invisible, yet inescapable, barrier of “I have to step into your threshold” creating a more amicable atmosphere between employees and management.
The last decade has seen a rise in secure and reliable cloud solutions which has led to Cloud PBX solutions enter global enterprise, enabling more flexible and inclusive communication.
Completely integrated with mobile devices, Cloud PBX can route calls to wherever you may be and can even convert messages to text or email via software if urgent messages come through that you couldn’t answer. Advanced versions of this system, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), can integrate full online meeting facilities as well as handling voice calls.
Removing unconscious bias
Historically, there has been a pervasive lack of female and BEM representation in senior positions across almost every industry globally. This has largely been put down to high levels of unconscious bias in business. Stereotypes, both positive and negative, exist in our subconscious that have affect the decision-making processes in businesses, creating an unequal and non-inclusive workplace.
However, in recent years artificial intelligence (AI) has been used to combat unconscious bias in enterprise. Driven by data, and taught to ignore traditional prejudices, AI software platforms are helping to create more inclusive and diverse businesses. It’s important to note that these AI algorithms do need careful audit to ensure they don’t reproduce historical patterns of underrepresentation. However, using AI in this way is, and will continue, to have a positive impact on creating more inclusive workplaces.
AI was first brought into the workplace to reduce the burden of administrative tasks such as booking meeting rooms and flights. A few years on, zoom.ai’s AI assistant can also book taxis, flights, hotels for meetings out of town and make restaurant bookings autonomously.
As these AI assistants continue to develop in their capability, they will further contribute towards removing unconscious bias. Though meeting minute taking is still relatively new, the ability to provide factual documentation of conversations, including key decisions and actions following meetings, that are emailed to everyone involved is crucial.
Not only is this a simple way of distributing meeting minutes and assigned actions, it also eliminates the possibility that information is missed or noted incorrectly due to implicit human bias.
Issues surrounding inclusivity and diversity in the workplace will not be solved overnight, but harnessing technology in these ways to break down communication barriers and combat unconscious bias is a strong step in the right direction. Those businesses that harness this technology will be the ones that attract the top talent and ultimately come out on top.
Sourced by Chris Martin, CTO of Powwownow