The traditional approaches to diversity and inclusion are not moving the needle. Whether its “the letter” at Google or sensational headlines about bad behavior at companies such as Uber or Fox News, diversity and inclusion remain a hot topic.
Can Artificial Intelligence help? Artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining wide acceptance for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and is used by investors, doctors, and scientists to search mega-databases to identify previously unknown relationships.
One start-up, Cultivate, believes they have an AI solution to help managers improve their written communication with employees. Cultivate’s artificial intelligence can read their emails and discussions on worker collaboration platforms, such as Slack, and identify communication patterns that impact motivation, engagement, and inclusion. It works real time like spell check or Grammarly.
It measures five dimensions of communications: tone, attention, productivity, motivation, and teamwork. Based on its observations, the AI can generate reports and alerts for the manager and provide tips on how to change the frequency and tone of written communications to improve relationships and business outcomes.
How did Cultivate’s AI become an expert in workplace communications? According to Joseph Freed, Co-founder and CEO, Cultivate has informed its AI model with over ten studies on human communications. For example, one of the studies has identified how communications based on gender and the gender environment (from the Enron email corpus[i]) impacts power dynamics. https://aclweb.org/anthology/D/D14/D14-1211.pdf
Another study has identified the 13 signs an employee has decided to quit. https://hbr.org/2016/10/13-signs-that-someone-is-about-to-quit-according-to-research.
Another study used police body camera footage to identify how officers in a Big City police force speak less respectfully to blacks than whites in every-day traffic stops. The trend persisted even when controlled for the race of the officer, the severity of the traffic violation, the stop location, and stop outcome. http://www.pnas.org/content/114/25/6521.abstract
Cultivate does not currently have enough client experience to show statistically significant improved results for inclusion, engagement and business outcomes. However, the anecdotal evidence, according to Joseph Freed, is very supportive.
We all use spell check. Due to the importance of manager-employee relationships, perhaps it is time to use an AI tool, like we use spell check, before hitting the “send” button?
The use of AI tools alone, however, will not improve workforce diversity, a sense of inclusion or engagement. Research shows that other factors are necessary to make these improvements. These factors include transparent and performance-based cultures, flexible work arrangements, coaches, pay equity, ongoing learning, paid time off for maternity leaves, and paternity leaves for both men and women.
Has your organization tried AI to improve engagement and inclusion? Join the discussion.
Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults on innovation, global talent strategies, developing agile leaders and teams, and other strategic initiatives. Questions? Please email Victor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://www.victorhrconsultant.com for valuable free reports. For innovation visit http://www.InnovationOne.io.
[i] The Enron Email Corpus is a large-scale email collection from a real company (Enron) going through a sever and survival-threatening crisis. It has provided researchers with a trove of material over a 3.5-year period.