Why socially responsible automation is vital to ensuring DEI survives
This month, I attended the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego where I met with a huge variety of people across the education sector and joined a series of discussions looking at how organizations can best prepare their workforces for what the future holds.
One that resonated strongly with the audience – and a topic I’ve been discussing regularly lately – is socially responsible automation (SRA).
SRA is the practice of introducing and implementing automating technologies with the social impact it will have on the workforce and wider society front of mind. Right now, the topic isn’t getting nearly enough discussion and expo
In every industry, women are disproportionately impacted by automation. What’s more, often minority ethnicities are in roles more likely to be automated too.
For example, Faethm’s 2021 report looking at diversity and the age of automation revealed that marginalized communities have been disproportionately impacted by accelerated tech implementation in the wake of Covid-19. It highlighted that black Americans have an above-average representation in the food services, healthcare, and retail industries, which not only face higher rates of automation, but also are roles that cannot be performed effectively in remote work situations. This means marginalized communities have a high need to upskill rapidly to mitigate the risks of unemployment.
So how can leaders intervene to create sustainable, future-proofed jobs for a diverse workforce with SRA front of mind?
Business leaders and HR professionals within organizations must first and foremost understand and plan for the change that is coming.
Knowing which technologies are going to be implemented is just the first step – organizations must also gather data that demonstrates which roles will be impacted, timeframes for impending disruption to the workforce, and crucially, identify which transferable skills employees with roles at risk already have.
With this data at hand, HR leaders can identify and create career pathways for employees to transition to roles that will be in demand in future.
For example, the Faethm platform shows retail sales manager roles have high automation potential, but the pathways tool shows that they possess clear transferable skills, which shows that with the right training, they can to transition to roles with much automation rates.
With access to data like this, business leaders will not only understand the challenge they face, but will also be able to build career pathways for employees to jobs with future growth to retain their workforce.
By avoiding the ‘fire and hire’ approach when it comes to digital transformation and prioritizing the reskilling and redeployment of employees in roles at risk of automation, organizations will be able to introduce new technologies in a way that is socially responsible.
Not only is it economically beneficial to avoid costly hiring programs, but organizations will also reap the rewards of maintaining a diverse workforce that fosters new perspectives.
As Florida pointed out in our discussion, “Research shows that companies that are much more diverse can experience 75% more innovation. Not only is it a business imperative, and a moral and ethical imperative, but more importantly, people that do business with companies want to know that they have a commitment to diversity.
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