Using Tech to Improve DEI Efforts - Niki Allen

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Social justice issues are now a focus more than ever. The past year has amplified the need for DEI improvement initiatives across the board in all types of organizations. Companies are actively implementing plans and protocols to address the non-inclusive workspaces we have been operating in. Not only do organizations need to address the lack of diversity and inclusivity, but once they improve upon those things, they also need to ensure that their employees feel as though they belong.

Deloitte conducted their 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Survey that inquired participants thoughts on the importance of fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace. The data showed that 79% percent of the respondents thought that a sense of belonging was imperative to a company’s success within the next year or so, and 93% said that this sense of belonging increases the performance of a company.

I recently spoke in the Deloitte U.S. CIO Program’s Live panel discussion, ‘The DEI Imperative: How Tech Enables Organizational Values.’ Alongside tech leader Jim Fowler, and Janet Foutty and Kristi Lamar of Deloitte, we spoke on improving DEI initiatives and innovating technology that is inclusive to all.

You can read some of my comments below:

“Organizations are microcosms of society, so it’s important to create technology teams that bring diverse perspectives and create tools that drive equitable experiences. Companies like Kohl’s have an obligation to represent the communities they serve. In the technology space, we have tried to amplify DEI across all of our initiatives, including apprenticeship opportunities and ‘returnship’ programs for technologists who left the workforce and want to come back.

“When there are openings on my team, I’m not rushing to take the first candidates the HR team puts forth to fill those roles. I always require that the slate of candidates and the interview panel be diverse. Those are very simple changes we can make today that tremendously open up the pipeline of candidates.

“Technology organizations are also attempting bold plays to foster more diversity and inclusion in their workforces. For example, in the past, most of Kohl’s corporate functions were located at their corporate offices, but the company is increasingly broadening its search for talent. The biggest lever we pulled to boost DEI was relaxing the traditional workforce model. We want to see what it looks like when we meet talent where they are.

“Once a remote worker community develops, organizations still need to foster an environment of inclusion and psychological safety even though workers aren’t physically located next to one another.

“The effort is really starting to pay huge dividends for us.”

About Niki: Niki Allen is the senior vice president of technology at Kohl’s. Niki emphasizes that technology is the basis of all successful organizations. She uses her background in data and analytics to strategize how to help businesses operate more effectively through the innovation of new technologies. As a transformational thought leader, she actively works to use technology to create a more diverse and inclusive future with greater opportunities for all.

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