by Sharon Florentine

D&I tech market grows as diversity and inclusion become a business priority

News Analysis
Mar 01, 20194 mins
C-SuiteIT LeadershipStaff Management

There's been a flurry of activity in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) technology space as the tech industry uses its strengths to address discrimination and lack of representation.

certification school pencils diversity creative team by evgeny555 getty
Credit: evgeny555 / Getty

Tech has always been uniquely positioned to address its own lack of diversity and inclusion by using the very same innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, tools and technologies that have transformed so many other industries. Thus far, though, it hasn’t seemed to make much of a dent in the problem.

But a new report from Mercer and RedThread Research offers some hopeful data about the rapidly expanding market for D&I technology. Diversity and Inclusion Technology: The Rise of a Transformative Market explores and maps the landscape of this newly emerging technology category, including top technology vendors, insights from corporate use cases, areas of focus and growth rates, according to a statement from Mercer and RedThread.

“We know that companies are renewing their focus on D&I,” says Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst of RedThread Research, and co-author of the report. “As a result, we’ve seen a flood of new entrants into this market sector. There is very little insight, however, into who they are or what they are offering. We wanted to understand who the players are, exactly what problems they are trying to solve, and how successful they have been, both financially and in the eyes of their customers.”

[ Find out how your organization may be getting diversity and inclusion wrong — and how to get it right. | Learn how to define your company culture before it derails your mission. | Get the latest IT staffing, hiring, and leadership advice by signing up for our CIO newsletters. ]

Key findings from the report reveal that the D&I technology market is quickly expanding, but it is also fragmented. As of 2018, the global market size was approximately $100 million and growing. The majority (60 percent) of the 105 vendors surveyed are small companies with fewer than 50 employees, are less than 4 years old, and serve customers in finance/banking, technology and the professional services industries, according to the research. One in four of these vendors (approximately 25 percent) are seeing 100 percent or higher year-over-year growth, the survey reveals.

This is pretty good news, not just for the D&I tech vendors themselves, but for the industry as a whole and for these D&I vendors’ customers outside of the tech industry. It means these customers are finally beginning to take D&I seriously and making actual investments in technology to help them address the issues across industries.  

“Diversity and inclusion has long been a priority for many of our clients and other organizations,” said Carole Jackson, co-author of the report and senior principal in Mercer’s Diversity & Inclusion consulting practice. “But it wasn’t always a top ‘business priority’ for CEOs. It was often considered ‘the right thing to do’ and with that came nominal budgets and superficial support from leaders. With more and more research demonstrating a direct link between greater diversity and improved business results, CEOs are putting real budgets in place to eliminate bias, ensuring equity in all talent processes, and demanding inclusive working environments. This is proving to be the fuel for change and creating space for these technologies to grow.”

I’ve always maintained that there shouldn’t have to be a “business case” made for companies to do the right thing, but if that’s what it takes to finally persuade the “old boys club” to sit up and take notice and put real money behind these initiatives, then I guess it’s better than nothing.

More on workplace diversity: