Diversity and inclusion aren’t always an easy sell for big companies, but one company aims to change that.
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Bold Biz: Aleria

What if you could run a simulation to examine the effect of changes in your company? You can.

Posted by BoldTV on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

 

 Diversity can seem like an unnecessary pain in the neck for some companies.  It’s difficult to quantify and attribute the returns of pursuing diversity and inclusion.  It’s even harder to predict if a company’s programs will lead to sufficient diversity and inclusion when put into practice. Aleria is using sophisticated algorithms to both scientifically quantify the value of diversity and inclusion, and to analyze the efficacy of specific approaches that companies might take to diversify their staff.

How can you measure the value of diversity and inclusion?

One of the reasons it’s hard to sell the value of diversity and inclusion to an employer who hasn’t already bought into the idea is that it’s hard to assign a solid value. Many of the adverse effects of cultivating a biased or homogenous workplace can be mistakenly attributed to the low productivity of specific individuals or the skewed hiring practices of a particular hiring manager. Aleria uses a system called Complexic Analytics to show the far-reaching effects of a nondiverse workplace.

“Complexic Analytics is a way that combines computer simulations and analytics. We can literally take an entire organization, replicate the behavior of the individual employees within a computer simulation and then basically play out these ‘What if?’ scenarios,” founder Paolo Gaudiano said. “By looking at the company as a whole, you get some amazing, powerful insights into what will happen when you do diversity and inclusion in your company.”

These scenarios show the effects of a hostile environment or hiring/promotional bias years after choices are made.

An experiment with gender bias

In one stunning experiment, Aleria showed that the effects of promotional bias can take decades to fix if the only changes made pertain to the elimination of bias. In the experiment, they simulated a company with a significant level of gender bias in the way that people are promoted. The lack of mobility made entry-level jobs at the company less attractive to female applicants. The dearth of entry-level female workers led to a smaller pool of female workers eligible for promotion and a consequent feedback loop that ultimately put a male majority at the top and most women employees at the bottom.

Would eliminating promotion bias would be enough to fix the imbalance?

“The answer is a resounding no,” Gaudiano said. “It may take five years to generate a lot of imbalance within the company, but it may take 20 years to get rid of that imbalance if you only remove the bias.”

Bias leads to a loss of productivity

Additionally, bias in the workplace leads to a loss of productivity and reinforcement of pre-conceived stereotypes regarding what kinds of employees are undesirable.

“If you have two people with exactly the same background and experience, what makes a difference is not their different skin color or different gender, it’s the fact that if one person feels welcome in their environment and another does not, the first person will not be as productive,” Gaudiano said.

That loss of productivity costs the company real, quantifiable losses that compound over time, and can be even more costly if the employee is eventually fired and replaced because of the time, energy and resources lost in having to re-engage in the hiring process.

Takeaway: New tools for old problems

Aleria’s approach to the issue of diversity and inclusion brings a digital-age solution to an age-old problem.

“In talent management, we do not have the tools that enable you to understand the value of diversity,” Gaudiano said. “We have a unique technology that shows the exact link between the blend of people on your teams and the performance of the team and performance of the company.”

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Header image: Aleria Tech

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Posted 08.31.2017 - 01:00 pm EDT