We still have a long to go in achieving diversity in management ranks, but technology may help open up more opportunities. The recent Bloomberg Gender Equality Index finds that out of 484 large companies examined, only 41 have a woman CEO, and 50 have a woman chairperson. Overall, 32% of boards are occupied by women.

“Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in diversity in management positions, however there is still work to be done,” says Sabah Cambrelen, workforce transformation partner with PwC. “For example, while we have seen an increase of women in management roles, women of color still remain significantly underrepresented.” Of the 26% of women in the C-suite, just five percent of those leaders are women of color, PwC data shows.

Now, we may have tools to help boost efforts to achieve more gender equality — and multi-racial equality — in management ranks. several technologies and approaches show promise for more diverse management:

Data and analytics: First off, there’s data and analytics that can help measure progress and identify areas of concern. Digital technology is playing a role “in creating more transparency in the data to gain actionable insights” that help boost opportunities, says Cambrelen. The data “allow us to see clearly where drop-off points are occurring in the pipeline for diverse talent and provide insights on where to focus to make meaningful change.”

The increased visibility of data analytics shines a light on companies’ diversity, and helps guide efforts. “Technology has made it more accessible to understand the talent lifecycle and identify specific opportunities for improvement in the processes and practices that develop diverse talent to be ready for management roles,” Cambrelen says. The insights gained from data analytics will help “train leaders to cultivate more inclusive environments that retain diverse talent to thrive and grow.”

Cambrelen urges companies to use data and analytics “to gain insightful metrics on their workforce diversity to date, in how their people are moving up, in and out of the organization and where there may be drop off points for diverse talent. They can focus and understand interventions that can be put into place to mitigate challenges, which would serve as an appropriate starting point in creating a plan to address how to improve diversity in management.”

Snow Software, for example, measures employee engagement to assess “not only workforce sentiment but to gain insights into how certain populations are feeling in the company,” says Liz Burton, executive vice president of people and culture at Snow Software. “Data helps us challenge the perspectives and beliefs of leaders and existing policies. Because otherwise, you are making decisions on perception and gut feeling. We know people invest a lot of time and resources in who they perceive as talent, and often those perceptions are based on intrinsic biases.”

The goal is to help leaders “to reflect on their own biases because if left unchecked, people leaders will hire and promote people who are similar to them,” says Burton. “It isn’t necessarily intentional, but leveraging data helps organizations take a thoughtful approach to improving diversity.”

Remote or hybrid workplaces also paves the way to greater opportunities. “Hybrid work has created a more flexible working environment, which is especially beneficial for people with children, balancing childcare and work,” says Lizzie Burton, executive vice president of people and culture at Snow Software. “In-person meetings can allow certain voices to dominate and stifle contributions from differing points of view. On a Zoom call, all participants are equal in their ability to contribute – whether it’s via the chat function or leveraging the raised hand icon – which gives people equal footing to provide input.”

Hybrid work and online collaboration tools “have helped us to retain our female top talent and attract more diverse candidates,” says Burton.

Digital technology plays a significant role, “from improving connectivity, enhancing upskilling opportunities, to broadening talent pools with remote work,” Cambrelen says. “Technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality offers scalable solutions to help identify bias, promote consciously inclusive behaviors and increase accountability.”

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