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Boosting Team Inclusion at the Workplace Using Artificial Intelligence Technologies

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At the Gartner Application Technologies and Solutions Summit held in November 2018, John Kostoulas, senior director analyst, established that teams and team leaders that actively foster an inclusive culture will exceed their targeted goals. Referring to a Leadership Validation Survey CEB-Gartner conducted in 2016, Kostoulas showed that higher gender diversity teams paired with active inclusion practices improves teams’ performance.

The InfoQ eMag Gender, Race, Age and Neurodiversity for Software Developers states outright that "The data is clear: diversity improves financial success." Recognizing the value of diversity on performance and culture, organizations are investigating practices and technologies that support all kinds of thinkers.

According to Kostoulas, even if diversity rationale is understood and addressed by organizations, the business value for inclusion is not well articulated or strategized. Today, new artificial intelligence and behavior-analysis-powered applications are available to boost deliberate and true inclusion across teams’ cultural, people and process disciplines. Kostoulas proposes to leverage these technologies in three areas that can help raise inclusion awareness and outcomes: screening inclusive-ready candidates, assessing and improving teams’ inclusion behaviors, and training team leaders.

Kostoulas recognizes that recruiting for diversity is one step. Attracting and developing inclusion-ready people is the next necessary step, which requires deepening the definition of diversity to less discernable attributes, such as working styles and thinking models. To identify inclusive-ready candidates and team leaders, organizations can now leverage artificial intelligence-enabled sourcing applications such as Talemetry, Entelo or SeekOut, to name a few.

Then, assessing how and with whom, regardless of hierarchy, teams interact can inform patterns that may need to be addressed. Truly Inclusive teams encourage decision making by all team members and those presenting various diversity attributes. Social-network analysis (SNA), such as Maven7 or TrustSphere, can help workers and team leaders be more aware of their interaction patterns, whereas "voice of the employee" (VoE) applications, such as CultureAmp or Diverst, encourage direct reports and peers to provide feedback and share their sentiment related to inclusiveness and in turn allow organizations to design customized intervention programs.

The role of team leaders and managers is critical in modeling inclusion behaviors. Managers must actualize inclusion in daily decisions, develop a climate of strength, defined by interpersonal integrity and productive conflict, or increase interactions across new hires, contractors, departments or hierarchies. Gartner investigated neuroscience and artificial-intelligence assessment tools, and inclusion-related learning platforms that can help team leaders move from management styles influenced by their own biases and own decision-making style to becoming catalysts for inclusive team decision making. Some of the tools Kostoulas mentioned are Reflektive, 7Geese, and BetterWorks.

In 2017, an article from Harvard Business Review recognized that diversity without inclusion doesn’t stick and a "difficulty in solving the issue is data. It’s easy to measure diversity: It’s a simple matter of headcount. But quantifying feelings of inclusion can be dicey. Understanding that narrative along with the numbers is what really draws the picture for companies." Neuroscience, behavioral analytics and artificial-intelligence-powered applications are available to support inclusion at the workplace and can be baked into HR and business-technology roadmaps or reconciled with existing diversity recruitment and management applications.

In a recent article published on January 9th, 2019, Microsoft chief diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, confirms the necessity of prioritizing inclusion. McIntyre shares how the company incorporates it into daily interaction and work as well as into leaders’ and teams’ performance process reviews, leveraging technologies and qualitative metrics.

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