When Zensar’s comprehensive, all-inclusive rebranding took place in 2021, it drove an inside-out transformation in its culture, as well. The company’s CEO & MD, Ajay S Bhutoria had shared with Business Standard, “Our focus as an organisation has always been to create a fun, inclusive and empowering place for the best talent in the world.”
In this exclusively authored piece, Zensar’s Chief Operating Officer, Prameela Kalive; and Chief Technology Officer, Dr Puneet Agarwal, explain how RPG’s flagship IT company is committed to furthering its Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) practices by channelling the power of digital technology.
Technology can be a robust starting point to drive meaningful action. While currently, AI-Technology-Powered Solutions (ATPS) are in a nascent phase, with a swift penetration of cases in almost all industry sectors, the power of ATPS to solve real-world problems has proven to be beneficial.
ATPS has been rapidly taking over the softer domains of human decision making — from employee engagement to hiring and training, amongst other core HR processes — albeit for operational efficiency alone.
Therefore, Zensar began exploring multiple cases to unlock the potential of ATPS in identifying solutions that would accelerate initiatives powering its D&I programme across all its processes.
A key challenge in human decision-making is inherent biases. Deeply impacting one’s ability to make fair and inclusive decisions, as well as the organisational culture at large.
Despite a surge in D&I conversations, biases are still preventing professionals from making inroads in their respective industries. These biases stem from having a close-minded approach to various diversity aspects. The affected parties often resort to managing their careers more strategically than others, which leads to a taxing workplace experience.
Biases can be ‘conscious’, where offenders are aware of their prejudiced behaviour; and ‘unconscious’, where offenders are unaware of their decisions being skewed by prejudices.
If not remedied, such biases can impact Zensar’s values of fairness and integrity — principles that the company cherishes and upholds fiercely.
Common workplace biases include those of attraction, affinity, attribution, appearance, age and name, among others.
In a corporate landscape brimming with a host of biases, one stands out boldly affecting cultures across industries – the gender bias.
Building on that premise is Zensar’s problem statement: to identify and address unconscious gender biases in people-centric decision-making processes. This is where the AI4DI tool swoops in to offset prejudiced outcomes, by checking and validating compliance to Zensar’s gender inclusivity guidelines.
A critical people-process that is routinely impacted by biases is that of performance management, pushing the urgency to identify and eliminate biases around performance ratings, recommendations for salary increments and promotions.
While an effective gender-pay parity-fitment model has been around for several years, the AI4DI tool is the next big thing. It analyses recommendations for salary revisions and promotions from managers and generates actionable insights to help identify inherent unconscious biases.
By mapping, comparing and analysing gender distribution in the base employee and recommendations data, it denounces disproportionate biases based on gender. This comparison is carried out using various statistical approaches such as the Chi-Square test, among others, to detect any deviation from the base-data distribution.
Zensar is witnessing some early and promising results in a couple of its cases.
Besides performance-management, the tool also tackles internal and external communications.
Through algorithms that are based on image and natural language processing, all formal communications (HR documents, intranet and website content, market-facing collaterals, etc.) are scanned to ensure gender inclusiveness.
In the imminent future, all Zensarians will be empowered with the AI4DI tool to strengthen the company-wide D&I programme. The Innovation team at the company has begun working on further enhancing it.
D&I at Zensar isn’t a mere pipe dream, but a clarion call to action.
In today’s hybrid workplace such tools will help drive inclusion, kicking a plethora of biases to the curb. Furthermore, this tool can even be scaled-up to benefit other RPG companies.
However, intersecting technology and D&I comes with its own set of risks. In reviewing every sample in the scores of inputs, there is a possibility of inherent biases in the training data being passed on to the algorithm, a threat that scientific communities across the world are attempting to circumvent.
As machine-learning-based AI permeates more offerings and processes in the sphere of organisational success and business excellence, Zensar is excited to explore the possibilities this presents for D&I to create a kinder world.
Under the company’s rebranded charter, crafting a corporate legacy will always remain concurrent with its tenets of compassion and purpose. It is this aspect of Zensar’s people-centric approach that will ensure success of this solution.