“Data Provokes Thought And Changes Lives”—Here’s How Technology CanEnhance Equity

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Have you ever heard the term “human capital?” It’s essentially defined as the knowledge, skills, and health that people invest in and accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of society.

How companies utilize their workforce’s human capital is essential to the advancement of society and if handled with care, can change how the world works. That’s something that the team at Amazon Web Services (AWS) fully understands. Through their Artificial Intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) technology, they help businesses like ADP, one of the leading HR software providers in the country, drive more equitable outcomes for the organizations they serve.

This was highlighted during AWS’s recent re:Invent Conference in which more than 50,000 people convened to connect, build and learn more about cloud computing. One of those learning opportunities was during ADP’s on-stage presentation about innovation, intersection, and scalability using equitable technology.

ADP’s SVP of Product Development Vipul Nagrath spoke about how the usage of AWS’s deep learning capabilities helped them make their own software more inclusive. Deep learning is a type of ML and AI that imitates the way humans gain certain types of knowledge, according to TechTarget.

“From hire, to retire to full-time and freelance, we have visibility into decisions being made {practically and in real-time} and all of this is thanks to our data,” he explained.

That data he refers to is what AWS powers, which includes mining and analyzing the depth of a workforce by organization (if there are multiple subsidiaries within a corporate brand), department and job level by criteria ranging from gender, race, ethnicity, age and disability status to ensure companies are reaching their DEI goals.

For instance, data from ADP’s Research Institute revealed that 64% of employees surveyed will consider looking for a new job if forced to go back into a physical office. This speaks to the scores of research reports that underpin microaggressions and inclusivity limitations as some of the reasons why Black employees in particular are hesitant to migrate back to offices after working remotely since the height of the pandemic.

This important information ADP uncovered is just one aspect of how data can surface insights that create a more inclusive workplace. As ADP developed its DEI tools, it relied on AWS to provide the flexibility it needed to experiment with new architectures. The DEI dashboard demonstrates the importance of being able to try different approaches and iterate as part of the discovery and development process.

AWS’s Enterprise Strategist Miriam McLemore shared with ESSENCE that access to data and analytics can help companies achieve gender pay parity.

“When someone says they feel like they’re not getting paid properly, companies like AWS and ADP can use data to substantiate that person’s concern,” McLemore explained. “When you have data, it’s not just an opinion. And being able to see inequities and make them truly visible so people can address them is incredibly powerful. As a woman leader, you’re always wondering, ‘am I getting paid like my male peers?’ Or for people of color, or people from different cultures coming into the organization, they should be able to gauge that they’re being treated fairly based on the peer data that’s already out there.”

An example of the data she’s referring to is ADP’s HR and compensation dataset of more than 920,000 companies and 30 million+ employees, which was launched in 2021. The company’s DEI Dashboard allows companies to compare their DEI metrics against similar companies as well as local populations through census data.

“As organizations take a fresh look at their DEI efforts, they need transparency into their people data to inform the actions they take and in turn, the difference they make,” said Bob Lockett, chief diversity and talent officer for ADP. “Approaching what is an incredibly emotionally driven issue with a mindset primed for problem-solving can help businesses better define the gaps they need to close. Blending this scientific approach with the art of communication and culture-building can drive true change and lay the foundation for a more inclusive and equitable world of work.”

AWS continues to work with companies like ADP to drive equity and amplify underrepresented groups in the workplace.

“Data can provoke thought and change outcomes,” McLemore told ESSENCE. “We’re committed to making sure that happens for everyone.”

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