Luckily, more and more of us are recognising how vital inclusivity in the workplace is for business success and creating a healthy and thriving workplace culture. Diverse perspectives and experiences are essential, and inclusion means ensuring these wide-ranging perspectives are given equal weight and voice. And while this perspective has gained prominence, how to implement our desire for inclusion proves challenging. Unsurprisingly though, our increasing use of technology can be leveraged to help create more inclusive workplaces.
Artificial Intelligence Addresses Unconscious Bias
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help us overcome some of our interactional limitations.
Unconscious bias is a significant factor in spreading discrimination and exclusionary behaviour. We may have split-second reactions and make immediate decisions based on our subconscious beliefs about certain identity groups, whether or not we want to perpetuate those beliefs. This can marginalise some workplace members and create harmful, toxic dynamics and power imbalances. Whether intentional or not, certain voices may be given disproportionate weight based on their privileged identity, while members of marginalised groups are silenced. Some may be rewarded unfairly while the accomplishments and skills of others are ignored.
Artificial Intelligence can help us respond to and undermine this problem. AI allows us to document our communications, including meetings, conversations (instant messaging) and especially important decision-making. Importantly, AI is data-driven and should hold no innate bias.
However, it’s important to realise that for AI to help with addressing unconscious bias, users need to make a conscious effort to ensure the AI doesn’t end up learning our discriminatory biases, which happened at Amazon last year. Ultimately though, AI is a tool with fantastic potential for fighting unconscious bias, and it’s one that’s predicted to expand exponentially in coming years.
With business being truly global, remote working and members of a team being in different locations, schedules and time zones, can make collaboration and discussions a real challenge. However, there’s a reason that business has gone global; thanks to a little thing called the Internet, we now have the technology to allow instant communication on a massive scale. We no longer need to rely on the near-snail’s pace of emails or voicemail to keep up with one another. In particular, team chat-oriented instant messaging tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and others are an incredibly effective way to keep in close communication with teammates and co-workers. They helpfully organise thinking and communication by allowing us to keep discussions categorised by topic and group. They also tend to foster a more casual interactional style that’s easier to keep up with. After all, even the etiquette of emails is often more dauntingly formal than a quick instant message. Case in point: how many people have wondered about the appropriate number of exclamation points to include in an email – the perfect balance between expressing enthusiasm and avoiding being too over-the-top? I once had a boss tell me I needed to write my emails with a smile!. Instant messaging can help employees at different levels feel more comfortable interacting in an open, relaxed manner on a regular basis.
Technology allows us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk
While it’s a positive that people have a greater desire to work for inclusivity, this willingness alone is not enough to transform an established, long-standing workplace culture. It’s most important to establish concrete, actionable strategies to help us grow and progress in this area. That’s where it counts, and that’s where the real change and growth have happened and will continue to happen. Luckily, technological progress is helping us discover new strategies to foster more open and egalitarian communication and fight back against unconscious bias.