- CIOs can help organizations better support LGBTQ employees by leaning on data, said LJ Justice, principal, research at Gartner, speaking at a Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Americas session in October.
- "Gender identity and sexual orientation are generally hidden, visibly indistinguishable characteristics," said Justice. "Evaluating the success of diversity and inclusion practices is often so difficult because most employers don't even have a sense of how many LGBTQ employees they have, or how engaged they are at work."
- But there are challenges to self-identification, or self ID — the method through which employees voluntarily disclose their diversity identity. CIOs can help overcome these challenges by helping design data collection channels that increase engagement and instill trust.
Much like AI systems need data to yield insights, workplace policy also requires accurate data to drive decision-making. Human resources and tech have many more intersections now that the workplace is infused with technology, a shift that also stoked data security concerns.
By leveraging their insight into data collection processes, CIOs sit in an ideal position to help companies improve the workplace experience for LGBTQ workers, according to Justice.
Some employees may not feel comfortable disclosing this information with their employers, don't know how, or live in a country where it's unsafe for them to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, they said.
Leaders "don't have a clue" how to manage employee data in a way that lowers risk of data misuse or yields valuable insights, Forrester said in a report. It's a key concern for organizations, especially amid the expansion of policies overseeing data privacy, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act.
"To meet confidentiality challenges, CIOs can help broker trust by designing storage, access and privacy solutions to meet global needs," said Justice. CIOs can build collection channels that let employees share information when and how it's right for them.
As CIOs oversee initiatives that are mission-critical, the executive's clout grows. Operations are now more tech-enabled, which make the CIO role touch more parts of the organization.
"Your job as a CIO is just to encourage your LGBTQ employees to bring their authentic selves to work, and let them know that it's up to them to decide when they want to share that information with you," said Justice.
In collecting self-identification data, CIOs can play a role in:
- Explaining how employees privacy will be protected
- Reassuring employees that access to data is limited
- Communicating to them that their information will be kept confidential, secure, anonymous.
The work of the CIO toward a more inclusive workplace can play a role in talent attraction. Most hiring managers say finding the right tech talent is challenging, and this hurdle is made steeper by accelerated demand in fields such as AI or cybersecurity.