AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: ADP on Making DEI a Priority Internally and in Its Products

LinkedIn reports that hiring for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) roles has increased more than 90% since 2019, as companies expand their investments in ensuring that their organizations, products, and communications reflect the diversity of the customers they serve. DEI is also a growing regulatory concern—particularly with regard to pay equity. In the US, most states have enacted pay equity laws, and the SEC requires that US employers annually report pay data, as well as other human capital information. In addition, the House of Representatives is now considering the “Paycheck Fairness Act” to address the country’s gender pay gap. The US is not alone. Pay equity has become a business concern around the world, with over 20 countries requiring pay equity reporting. In addition, the EU is discussing a rule that would require employers in EU member states to adopt practices to promote pay equity.

As we’ve discussed in earlier blog posts (see links below), diversity is critical in today’s digital approaches. According to a Harvard Business Review article, diverse teams out-innovate and out-perform others, being 45% more likely to grow their market share and 70% more likely to capture new markets. According to a Bersin/Deloitte talent management study, the companies highest on their diversity and inclusion maturity scale—that is, “companies that look at leadership and inclusion as a hallmark of their talent strategy”—are “1.8 times more likely to be change-ready and 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their markets.”

“Human capital management has taken on new meaning and has much more strategic importance to how you run your company.”

—Amin Venjara, Chief Product Owner and VP of Product, DataCloud, at ADP

IT departments are in a great position to help their companies accomplish ESG (environmental, social, and governance) goals, in part by implementing tools that help the company measure ESG performance, implement ESG measures, and perform analytics that provide insights into how to improve ESG performance. Such tools are available today, and from firms with expertise. We talked to ADP, the world’s largest provider of payroll and human capital management (HCM) solutions and an AWS partner, about how they’re helping organizations meet their DEI goals and comply with regulatory requirements—and about how ADP is meeting their own internal goals. With over 70 years of HCM experience, serving over 860,000 clients in more than 140 countries, ADP has built a collection of tools, data, and best practices to help organizations foster a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace.

Championing DEI Internally

ADP says its emphasis on DEI begins within its own organization. Recognized by Fortune as one of the world’s most admired companies for the past 14 years, ADP has made DEI central to its corporate culture. For example, the company sets goals for the number of women and minority leaders in its executive ranks, and it has already reached its 2022 goal of 35% women and exceeded its goal of 20% minority representation—with 23%. To help advance pay equity, ADP no longer asks US job candidates for their pay history.

They are regularly recognized for these efforts: Forbes has listed ADP as one of American’s best employers for diversity, and Working Mother has named them one of the best companies for multicultural women. In January of this year, ADP received a 100 percent rating for the twelfth consecutive year in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation annual Corporate Equality Index, which evaluates LGBTQ-related policies and practices, including nondiscrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, and public engagement with the LGBTQ community.

Advice for Enterprises: Combine Data Analysis with Human Conversations and Best Practices

ADP advocates taking a data-driven approach to DEI, particularly in three key areas: assembling and analyzing data to identify target areas and monitor progress; defining a course of action to drive adoption and measurable outcomes; and driving meaningful, scalable change that sticks across the organization. But the company also urges organizations to remember that HCM data is different from most other information they collect. “Every single data point is a human being,” Amin says. “It’s not the same as data gathered from signals or sensors. At ADP, we are always designing for people by making humanization a core principle of our product design.”

While data is critical to seeing trends and identifying potential problems, ADP recommends that organizations use their HR teams to help them understand context. This is especially important when it comes to DEI. Combining data analysis with a human understanding of a variety of factors, such as history, national context, culture, and unconscious biases, can help make DEI programs, especially global ones, more impactful. This is why, Amin says, “We want to help elevate the role that HR plays in organizations, equipping them to come to the table with data as a starting point for discussing what to do and why.”

To help organizations understand context and use data more effectively, ADP provides a library of best practices through its ADP Spark blog. Spark, which is available to everyone, delivers news, stories, insights, and tips that “help you ignite the power of your people.” The blog offers a variety of perspectives from experts within and outside ADP, and it covers a range of topics, such as how to use data more effectively, women in STEM, workforce diversity, and building a healthy company culture.

Giving Other Organizations the Right Tools

ADP has put to work its 70 years of HR expertise and its pay data on one in six Americans (almost 30 million workers) in developing products that help their clients advance their DEI efforts.

One of these DEI tools is the ADP Pay Equity Storyboard, which combines analytics and benchmarking to help employers understand potential pay gaps. The tool highlights potential pay equity gaps in jobs performed by people in specific EEOC protected classes taking into account location and job type to determine whether action is required. It also provides action plans for organizations to close these pay gaps and benchmarking data to help ensure that pay is both equitable and market competitive.

Another AWS-based DEI tool ADP offers is a DEI dashboard that allows companies to examine their workforce by organization, department, and job level along a number of dimensions, ranging from gender, ethnicity, and race to veteran status, age, and disability. Its question and answer-based approach helps clients leverage best practices and focus on key areas such as how diversity varies by organizational level. Companies can also compare their metrics to those of other businesses and get recommendations on where to make talent investments to remain competitive.

Gaining Flexibility and Scalability with AWS

As ADP developed its DEI tools, it relied on AWS to provide the flexibility it needed to experiment with new architectures. Amin cites the DEI dashboard and the importance of being able to try different approaches and iterate as part of the discovery and development process.

“When we were designing the DEI dashboard, we began with a number of key questions we knew our customers wanted answered,” Amin says. “With AWS, we could design the architecture around a policy-based microservice to serve up the metrics and insights our clients found most useful. The flexibility of this architecture enabled us to adapt the product iteratively as we learned from customer usage.” This flexible approach has become the basic framework for how ADP builds and deploys analytics across its people analytics application.

“Right now, we compute benchmarks, ranging from diversity to compensation and more, once a quarter across our client base,” says Amin. “But we’re moving to once a month, crunching hundreds of thousands of companies’ data. For this use case, we don’t need all that compute capacity all the time—only once a month for a specific time period. Because those workloads run on AWS, we can scale up capacity, compute the benchmarks, and then scale down. And we can do it very easily.”

You can learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at ADP in the company’s Global Social Responsibility Report. And learn more about the AWS commitment to creating technology in a way that’s inclusive, diverse, and equitable here.

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Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is an Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and the author of The Art of Business Value and A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility. Before joining AWS he was the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (part of the Department of Homeland Security), CIO of Intrax, and CEO of Auctiva. He has an MBA from Wharton, a BS in Computer Science from Yale, and an MA in Philosophy from Yale.