AI-powered Technology Can Drive Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity in Workplaces; says Mr. Sumeet Doshi

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Mr. Sumeet Doshi, Country Manager at UKG, India

  • How does UKG, as a workforce management company, uphold the values of DEI&B? If you could please elaborate.

As an industry leader in Human Capital and Workforce Management, UKG leverages the unique advantage of our position as an industry leader to encourage greater understanding and appreciation for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) in the workplace, our industry, and across society.

Our purpose as a company is people. At UKG, we strongly believe the business imperative of DEI&B is essential to our success. The world is changing around us, and we realize that companies with diverse teams, including more women and minorities, are more innovative, productive, and ultimately, lucrative. UKG’s responsible and inclusive business model is equipped with unlimited potential to innovate, motivate employee pride, and inspire stronger relationships with customers and partners. Accordingly, our DEI&B strategy is built into our business objectives, our culture, and influences every decision we make.

UKG’s vision includes inspiring every employee, supporting every business, and elevating every workplace. We recognize that the best-run companies meet their customers “where they are.” We believe customers and partners want to associate with companies who share their values.

We’ve established a strong foundation for our company’s new DEI&B vision, Uniquely You, Uniquely Valued, which focuses on three key pillars: building, championing, and accelerating. To bring our people-driven purpose to life, we built internal and external DEI&B-focused programming, designed to create an engaging, supportive, and equitable environment for all.


  • How important do you think DEI&B is in the long run, to ensure better working experience and environment for employees?

According to recent research conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG, truly diverse employees and inclusive environments have a positive effect on workplace culture and company performance: 22% more productive. Lower turnover by 22% and better satisfaction by 39%. Furthermore, a McKinsey study found that businesses with ethnically and racially diverse workforces have a 35% higher chance of outperforming their rivals. So what is it about DEI&B that drives those figures? Fundamentally, DEI&B policies strive to ensure that workplaces are unbiased in their practices and that employees’ input is taken seriously in order for them to feel heard and engaged within the organization. Having a formal DEI&B policy in place also signals intent to the employees that as an organization we care about everyone and endeavor to make this a great place to work for all. When employees feel included and believe they are being treated equitably, it drive belongingness for the organization. This in turn people more motivated to perform for the company. Its no wonder then that multiple studies have found that there are real business outcomes for organisations if they focus on a truly diverse and inclusive environment.

Having said that, many organisations today are not sure how to operationalize DEI&B for all. When we say “for all”, we mean every employee of the organization including blue collared or contract or gig and so on. At UKG, our workforce management solutions based on life-work technology assist us and our customers in achieving an equitable and inclusive culture not only by ensuring the efficient adoption of workplace policies, but also by allowing the necessary objective insights.


  • From an investment point of view, what role do you think DEI&B policies can play in ensuring better investment opportunities for the organisation?

As has been established earlier, DEI&B policies contribute in the creation of healthy work environments which in turn improves the productivity of the employees and ensures better outcomes for the organization. It’s no secret that companies that perform better secure better investment opportunities. So yes, DEI&B policies can be integral when it comes to attracting investors for hedging their capital on an organization. Not only this, but it has been observed that in recent times investors are often drivers of implementing DEI&B policies in companies, as they act as strong forms of influence by insisting on a skill-based non-biased approach towards employees in order to enhance the performance of companies.


  • In today’s times, there is a lot of awareness and discourse around mental health and workplace burnout, so what measures do you think need to be in place, keeping in mind the DEI&B policies, to better address these problems?

One of the leading causes of workplace burnout has been found to be a lack of appreciation and respect that employees feel, other than being overburdened and continuously exhausted. While a lot of companies today are acknowledging the mental health issues faced by employees due to work-related stress, more needs to be done in terms of providing  individuals with adept resources to overcome these issues. This is where DEI&B comes into place as it will firstly ensure a healthy workspace environment, secondly it would make the employees feel heard and valued, and thirdly it would act as a support system which is essential for their recovery.

Individuals undergoing mental health issues are already in a vulnerable state, and when work becomes the cause of such concerns it is incredibly important for organizations to take steps and address it. Another leading cause of chronic work stress is not having proper work-life balance and UKG is aiming to rectify this with its life-work technology which prioritizes the life that employees lead beyond work. Technology truly has the potential to act as a useful resource and help people take care of their mental health.


  • What are some of the activities that you would recommend organizations incorporate to help reduce chances of overwhelming mental pressure and burnout caused due to workload?

The Workforce Institute at UKG surveyed 3,400 people across 10 countries to spotlight the critical role our jobs, leadership, and, most of all, our managers play in supporting mental health in and outside of work.  At the end of work, 43% of employees are “often” or “always” exhausted, and 78% of employees say that stress negatively impacts their work performance. That stress from work carries into our personal lives, as employees say work negatively impacts their home life (71%), wellbeing (64%), and relationships (62%).  Managers impact employees’ mental health (69%) more than doctors (51%) or therapists (41%) — and even the same as a spouse or partner (69%).

The first step that needs to be taken by every organization around the globe to reduce mental health issues caused by work is to destigmatize the discussion of it in the workplace. The more companies encourage employees to prioritise their mental well-being and talk freely about their experiences, the more it’ll contribute towards making the workplace a safe space.

Along with this, companies should implement mentoring arrangements so that people have someone to go to with the problems they might be facing. Most of the times, employees feel hesitant to come forth directly with the difficulties they are undergoing, in that case appointed mentors can act as mediators who will hear them out and help them navigate through the complexities. Organisations can also give their employees recovery time so as to let them process through their mental illness and come out of it on the brighter side. Technological interventions and psychological aide are resources worth investing on by companies who care about the mental health of the people working for them.


  • What resources do you think organisations can provide to their employees in order to help them navigate through any mental health issues that they might be undergoing?

As mentioned before, psychological aid is possibly one of the best resources that companies can provide their workers, who are dealing with mental illnesses, with. The idea of EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) has been recently gaining ground. The objective is to help individuals tackle the issues they’re facing early on in order to prevent it from seriously impacting their mental health and work performance. This helps after the fact.

Its also important to pro-actively deploy processes and systems in place to try and understand if there are issues. For eg the survey mentioned above talks about a large number of employees being reluctant to talk to their managers about their work-life balance and associated issues. It is well known the employees join companies for the company and leave due to managers. So organisations should look at pro-actively coaching managers to understand their team’s perspective.

Technology can also come to aid by pro-actively highlighting issues that can become more difficult going forward. For eg workforce management solutions track a lot of data on a daily basis and its easy to identify issues related to aspects like sweetheart scheduling, equitable distribution of work time or overtime, equitable allocation of leaves and so on. These seemingly trivial aspects of work have a huge impact on employee morale and pro-actively fixing bias in these areas through the help of AI driven WFM can improve employee mental wellbeing.


  • Could you elaborate on the role of modern tech in enabling organizations to bring in parity and inclusiveness and eliminate bias?

As mentioned above, technology supported by AI can play a huge role in making workplaces more fair, inclusive and equitable. This is especially true in organization that have a diverse set of employees like blue-collared, white-collared, conract workers, gig, field etc. Workforce Management Technology can enable managers and the organization to take the right decisions. Some of the exmaples related to scheduling or leave or overtime have been mentioned above. It can also extend to aspects like flexible work schedules and much more.

Recent studies have found that technology, especially when it is powered by AI, have the potential to eliminate inherent bias and make the workplace that much more inclusive and diversified.

Technology also has the potential of widening the talent pool when it comes to an organisation’s hiring practices. This ends up giving opportunities to skilled workers, removing any bias that might’ve barred it. So, yes, moving forward, technology can assist organisations to make better decisions, and it is their duty to responsibly make the best use out of it.

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