How changing your company’s software code can prevent bias | Technology & AI

Two thirds of tech professionals believe that organizations are not doing enough to tackle racial inequality. After all, many companies simply hire a DEI consultant, do some training, and then go home.

You want to take a unique but powerful approach to DEI, Deltek, the world’s leading provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, has looked at and removed all exclusive terminology in its software code. By removing terms such as “master” and “blacklist” from corporate coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion flow into every aspect of their organization.

Business Chief North America speaks with Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.

Why should companies care about removing business biases in their software code today?

We know that words can have a profound effect on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago and can be harmful to our customers and employees today. Businesses should use words that have a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization

What effects can exclusive conditions have on employees?

Exclusive conditions can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course we see this in our software code and other business areas as well. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful and even make employees feel unwelcome. This can affect a person’s desire to join the team, stay with a company, or ultimately choose to leave them. All of these critical actions affect the bottom line of the organization.

Please explain how Deltek removed the bias terminology from its software code

Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products as well as from our documentation. The terms that we focused on first and that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master / slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in eliminating gender-based language, e.g. B. when changing he and you to you in some documentation as well as in heteronormative language. We see this most often in pick lists asking you to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done yet, but we are proud of how far we have come with this exercise!

What steps is Deltek taking to ensure that biased terminology does not end up in its code in the future?

What we do at Deltek, and what other companies can do, is accountable to employees to see when this is happening – when you see something, say something! We also listen to our customers’ feedback and have heard their feedback on the matter. These are both very reactive things, of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidelines that identify words that are more inclusive and also just best practices for communicating that involves and respects others.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders looking to improve DEI efforts within enterprise technology?

My simple advice is to start with what makes sense for your organization and culture. To do nothing is worse than to do something. And one of the best places to start is to recognize that this isn’t just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help make the company better. For example, removing biased terminology was an action initiated by our engineering and product strategy teams at Deltek, rather than by HR. You can get employee votes by soliciting feedback through engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and we use these opportunities to improve.