Technology And Hybrid Working Are Great Equalisers

Paneesh Rao, Global Head of Sustainability, Mindtree, on the advantage of technology in opening up flexible work options and eliminating unconscious bias during recruitment


Diversity is a valuable source of innovation and creativity, attributes that are vital to an organisation’s ability to execute successfully and grow consistently. Unlocking the potential of diversity calls for much more than simply hiring people with different backgrounds and experiences. It is about creating a culture that encourages respect for each individual’s inherent potential and provides a bias-free environment of continuous enablement that is conducive for that potential to thrive. Technology and hybrid working, by virtue of the flexibility and equity of opportunity they provide, can help catalyse such an environment. 

Boosting workplace flexibility 

Take women professionals, for example. When the pandemic struck and turned a lot of conventional approaches to work upside down almost overnight, women in the workforce were most impacted. It was anyway not easy balancing work and home even during normal times. The disruption caused by the pandemic exacerbated that reality, so much so that many women dropped out of the workforce, either by choice or for want of an option. However, as remote working caught on with help from technology, it opened avenues for them to not just return to work, but do so with a flexibility they had only ever dreamt of, the flexibility that helped them regain control of their time — and lives — and seamlessly balance home as well as work. This flexibility has also been of tremendous help to professionals constrained by location, caring responsibilities or physical mobility, regardless of their gender. 

By now, most companies have mastered the art of flexible working. Being stuck to the office all the time now seems like a distant memory. By leveraging the transformational power of technology, they have been able to offer a more robust, yet humane working environment. In doing so, they have been able to tap into a larger pool of talent and ensure greater employee affinity. 

Curbing Bias 

One of the more common impediments to D&I continues to be unconscious bias. The adoption of technology and automation curbs this instinct and creates a level-playing field. Automation allows recruiters to evaluate candidates on the basis of skills and competencies as against their ethnicity, gender or disability. AI-based HR technologies provide the option to mask certain fields from the interview panel and leverage data-driven insights for informed decision-making, thereby narrowing traditional prejudices.

Enhancing Mobility 

Increased digitalisation has empowered people with disabilities to use technology for greater mobility and participation. It allows them to set up a workspace in familiar environment — their homes — and empowers them with tools that make communication for work frictionless. For example, closed  captioning offered by some of the popular collaboration tools helps individuals with auditory disabilities to interpret speech. The text-toaudio feature allows the visually challenged to hear. Touchscreens and adjustable workstations have made things easier for individuals with limited mobility. 

Democratising learning 

The pandemic caused learning organisations to quickly pivot from on-ground, classroom-based trainings to a virtual ‘learn anywhere, anytime’ mode. This migration, powered by technology, has brought in greater skill diversity. Employees can chart their career progression in line with business needs while factoring individual aspirations, without having to make an either or choice.

Today, remote working has been normalised and the scope of “flexibility” has expanded. For organisations to be truly diverse and inclusive in the new world order, technology-enabled, hybrid models of working will need to be complemented with inclusive policies, integrated workspace, and greater allyship starting from the leadership. They will clearly be key to the future of work.  

(The article appeared in the August issue of BW People publication)

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