As employers seek to enhance the effectiveness of their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programmes, the importance of technology as an integral part of programme design and delivery has become increasingly clear, according to Gartner.

The number of HR leaders who say that DEI inclusion efforts have become a top priority has doubled from 2019 to 2020. The scope of technologies to support this shift is growing, but many barriers to further and more effective adoption persist.

So important is the adoption of technology in this context that Gartner’s latest research, available to read through a license agreement with Zellis, suggests: “Organizations cannot scale and evolve their top-down or grassroots DEI programs without technology support.”

Using DEI technologies to support the activities of different stakeholders across the enterprise enhances ‘antifragility’ – the ability for companies to become stronger during turbulent times.

These stakeholders include not just DEI, HR, and operational leaders, but also line managers and the wider workforce too.

Tackling a lack of technology engagement

Only 10% of DEI leaders consider technology a priority today, preferring instead to focus on strategy, leadership engagement, metrics, or business processes. The problem is that simply adding technology as an after-thought and translating existing, real-world DEI programmes into a digital context rarely works well.

The situation is not helped by the fact that technology budgets in this space tend to be fragmented between DEI, HR, and other functions. In around 30% of cases, these budgets do not exist at all. That many initiatives having too narrow a focus on a single aspect of diversity, such as gender or ethnicity, also means it can prove difficult to make a sound business case for the equipment to make real change.

Specialised DEI software start-ups offering talent management-based point solutions are no longer the only players in town, however. Many established human capital management (HCM) suites and specialist HCM analytics or talent acquisition application vendors are now supporting DEI as a distinct element in their product roadmaps and positioning statements and providing applications across a range of functional areas.

As a result, advises Gartner, it makes sense to “pursue opportunities for optimized DEI technology support by continuous evaluation of large HCM vendor offerings and through integration between HCM suites and dedicated DEI applications” for more specialised requirements.

To find out more about this important area of DEI, download the full report called ‘Innovation Insight for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Technologies to Power Organizations Beyond Resilience’ from Gartner here.