DEI Initiatives, Programs, and Technology: Thoughts from Black HR Tech Leaders

McKinsey research shows that companies committed $66 billion to advancing racial equity last year. However, according to the Stanford Corporate Governance Research Initiative, only 3% of CEOs, 1% of CFOs, and 3% of profit leaders in US companies are Black. The US Census' demographic report shows that almost 13% of Americans are Black, showing clear inequality in C-suite opportunities.  

Even though diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are on the rise and DEI leadership positions are growing, workplace diversity is still not where it needs to be, especially on the C-suite and upper management level. In order to overcome these biases, we must start a conversation on how we can permanently change company culture. 

We reached out to Black leaders in HR tech for ideas on how to create diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, how to better promote Black voices in HR tech, and how technology aids diversity initiatives.



Rocki Howard

Chief Diversity Officer for SmartRecruiters

How is your company's software solution helping HR teams with their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives?

SmartRecruiters commits to fighting racism and discrimination in the recruiting process. That means we use our full power as individuals, as an employer, and as a leading provider of recruitment technology to influence wholesale change and help companies achieve truly diverse hiring outcomes.
To support organizations with DEI priorities, SmartRecruiters has launched the Diversity Hiring Toolkit. 
The Diversity Hiring Toolkit includes a maturity model and success pillars, each of which consists of three key standards that SmartRecruiters believes form a best-in-breed framework for diversity recruitment initiatives.
SmartRecruiters invites companies to take our Diversity Hiring Assessment, which provides companies a holistic and objective view of a companies’ overall Diversity Hiring Maturity Level. All participating companies will receive a report showing maturity level, followed by a report that will give actionable advice on how to evolve your diversity hiring function.


William T. Rolack, Sr. 

VP of D&I at Workforce Logiq

How can the HR technology landscape better promote Black voices?

Organizations often remove a strategic alliance partner from the equation if they notice they haven’t hired from that institution in the past. This could be a major university, junior college, historically black college or university (HBCU), tribal college, professional society, or other strategic organization. But that doesn’t mean these institutions don’t have the talent. The right candidate might not be available at that given moment, or the employer’s brand might not be strong enough to attract and acquire the talent. 
Ongoing and active engagement with these partners, even if the relationship hasn’t recently generated a lead, is key to boosting representation and promoting the voices of diverse workers. Timing is everything. Leverage technology to nurture relationships, build a brand within the community, and make it easy to interact and engage. When the right candidate does come through the door, you’ll be ready to connect — with a higher chance of attracting and retaining them.
These strategic alliance partners, non-profits within the community, and other associations such as the National Society of Black Engineers often run awards programs. These programs include best in class, up-and-coming leaders, top 40 under 40, and other recognitions. The awards present an incredible opportunity to feature diverse employees who have outstanding business and technology skills, give back through non-profit work, support people with disabilities, and more. These institutions often do public announcements. The buzz empowers the recipient and amplifies their voice and visibility.  
Many employers promote Black voices internally. But leveraging existing partnerships for external recognition isn’t part of most strategies today. Making these community, charity, and academic relationships public — especially when you hire talent from those organizations — is another valuable way to highlight diverse employees. 


Shaka Senghor

Head of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion at TripActions

What initiatives has your company put in place to ensure a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace?

TripActions recently partnered with three local organizations in San Francisco to contribute laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, and mentorship to students and young professionals looking to enter the tech industry. While the past 8 months have brought their own unique challenges to the travel industry, the TripActions team felt a responsibility to serve those around us and do whatever they could to contribute to local communities impacted by the situation. With COVID, many organizations were forced to reimagine how they worked together and continued to support their members’ goals and aspirations.
The three organizations — Hack the Hood, Climb Hire, and Burton High School — each have a strong mission and track record in uplifting young adults who are eager for opportunities.


Jeconiah Cronze

Account Executive at ChartHop

How is your company's solution helping HR teams with their DEI priorities? 

We provide a centralized place for all of your People data so that folks can make informed decisions with full context. HR leaders can dive deeper into historically challenging areas of the business. For example, we've helped companies find discrepancies and inequalities to make sure folks are being paid fairly. We also provide reporting and analytics to track performance, representation, and other important trends across DEI.


Deke Johnson

Security Risk Analyst III for Paychex Inc.

How can the HR technology landscape better promote Black voices?

When Blacks are offered the opportunity to convey their ideas around diversity, equity, and inclusion, the landscape changes. Opportunities drive change, and change is required for growth. 
Change should start within the educational system. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be included in curriculums. HR tech companies should not only build meaningful relationships with colleges in urban areas, but HR tech recruiters should recruit from these colleges as well. Then, mentorship and retainment should begin after recruitment ends.

What are the next actionable steps? 

There are a few themes that run through these leaders' responses: partnership, technology, and education. Therefore, as your company begins to plan diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, consider these questions during the decision-making process:

  • What unconscious biases exist in our hiring process? How can we use DEI hiring tools to promote inclusivity?
  • Are we engaging diverse communities? How can we partner with community organizations and mentorship programs?
  • Do we have DEI training programs in place to educate our workforce on how to build an inclusive environment? Why not create employee resource groups to openly discuss DEI?

Most companies worry about employee engagement, but often don't realize that a simple sense of belonging can make all the difference. Deloitte found that employee belonging can lead to a 56% increase in job performance and a 50% reduction in turnover. By making your work environment more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, you're not only helping your employees; you're improving your business.

This post originally appeared on SelectSoftware's blog where we write about the latest in HRTech.

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