When people want to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organizations they tend to focus on their leadership, management and broader workforce, or their hiring, promotion and compensation practices. But looking at DEI only through those lenses can narrow the scope of DEI opportunity, holding companies back from pursuing other ways they can increase organizational equity.
Practicing good DEI can extend beyond internal organizational practices to the third parties and suppliers that companies engage with. For life insurance organizations, one great resource for DEI support can be found in the technology providers you partner with to digitalize your operations or build enterprise solutions.
Life insurers looking to improve their DEI practices should consider partnering with tech providers that implement a DEI mindset when developing enterprise solutions and integrating them into organizations. In doing so, you ensure that your enterprise technology is accessible and usable for all end users. Here are three key things to look for in a DEI-focused technology partner.
They design with all end users in mind
No two people see or use technology in the same way. Take an email application, for example. A company might have the same email service provider across its entire organization, but each individual employee has a different way of leveraging the tools and features of that application to organize their emails in their preferred way. Most email applications are built with every user in mind: The core functionality is individually customizable to match each person’s needs.
Something similar is achieved by a technology partner who creates enterprise solutions with diversity and inclusion in mind. They understand that people may use or move through an application differently, and their solutions are designed to reflect and allow for that.
Diversity is also integrated into their process
A diverse technology partner will approach product testing and development in an innovative and feedback-oriented way. When they build enterprise solutions, they actively seek out comments and critiques from a variety of stakeholder groups and demographics. This helps to ensure that everybody can use the end product and that the customer experience is as flawless as possible.
Solutions are streamlined but also customizable.
Because of costs, many companies may look for off-the-shelf technology solutions. While this kind of solution can be cost-effective, it may not always be the right fit for your organization. Just as no two people use an application in the same way, no two life insurance companies will have the same enterprise needs.
As a result of their inclusive approach to meeting needs, DEI-centered technology companies will offer custom-fit solutions, meaning that while some of the core functionalities will be consistent across different companies, other features will be customizable. Having that middle ground between a custom-built solution and a streamlined one means that organizations can reap some of the benefits of tailor-made products and access a solution that suits their needs, all without having to break the bank.
Why does DEI in technology matter?
Working with a DEI-focused technology partner isn’t just about expanding your commitment to equity and inclusion beyond your internal operations. It’s also about working with a company that can help you create accessible and functional applications and tools that will enable people to excel at their job. If a technology provider doesn’t build application with a DEI mindset, they could be unintentionally leaving out segments of the population, making software inaccessible or difficult for some end users to implement, or potentially even creating an unusable product.
Take the example of facial recognition software, which companies have considered using in decisions like hiring and lending. A researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that three separate facial recognition technologies were more inaccurate when it came to classifying the gender of people of color as opposed classifying the gender of people who were more light-skinned. Although the creators of those technologies had good intentions when creating their products, they likely didn’t realize that they’d built unusable facial recognition software until after the study was published. This case emphasizes the need to have DEI integrated into technology solutions to ensure that they will be functional and usable for all end users.
As life insurance companies work to bring their operations into the digital age and make their organizations more inclusive, they are well-advised to consider just how well their technology solutions will work for a wide variety of end users. A DEI-focused technology partner can help to identify specific needs, pinpoint potential stumbling blocks, and provide valuable solutions that will maximize the value of your operational investment and ensure accessibility for all.
Grace Apea Ata is assistant vice president of product development with Equisoft. Contact her at [email protected].