Watching news coverage of the senseless tragedies of 2020, Trent Johnson, like many people, felt the need to do something. A senior manager in Accenture’s Oracle Analytics business, and a member of one of the company’s resource groups for Black employees, Johnson shared his feelings with colleagues, one of whom connected him with Accenture Managing Director, Glenda Hernández.
“We were tired of talking,” Hernández says. “We wanted to lead and take action and create change. We wanted to develop something by leveraging the tools we had.”
Two years later, Johnson and Hernández oversee a new product, Accenture Workplace Accountability Resource Experience (AWARE), a first-of-its-kind human capital management (HCM) solution that uses Oracle Analytics Cloud to measure and compare inclusion, diversity, and equity (IDE) data and predict progress. It’s a strategic way for companies to accelerate better outcomes, using data and analytics to be transparent and accountable as they strive to create a more equitable workplace. Both Johnson and Hernández have added to their titles—he is now also AWARE program manager and she is the product’s global lead.
Compatible with Oracle Cloud HCM and other leading platforms, AWARE gives organizations a clear picture of what their workforce looks like, measuring demographics, such as race, gender, and disability, and analyzing it all by career level, compensation, and more. AWARE also lets businesses compare their data by industry and location, plus forecast when they can expect to reach their IDE goals. Data sources include a company’s core HCM systems, plus external sources, such as the United States Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Importantly, the tool lets employers select data to accommodate how different countries define diversity and regulate privacy.
It took about a year to get the product off the ground. “Our leadership was passionate about making this happen,” Hernández says. “All Trent and I had to do was ideate, create a value proposition, and identify the use cases. Within weeks we had our first proof of concept.”
However, Hernández, Johnson, and everyone else who helped launch AWARE still had their day jobs. While they had leadership’s backing, they needed time, budget, and a technical environment to bring the concept to life.
As 2020 rolled into 2021, the team creatively acquired the resources they needed. They found colleagues throughout North America, Europe, and the Philippines who were eager to donate their time and talent. Later, they were greenlighted to charge development hours to budget; full funding had arrived.
Then they reached out to Oracle. “We said, ‘Hey, here’s our idea,’ and Oracle said, ‘Sure, we’ll give you the [development] environment,’” Hernández says. “We had our first development instance with Oracle and that was huge.”
“It was like all my life experiences had come to a point where I thought, ‘Here’s why you’ve been doing what you’re doing.’”
Trent Johnson, Senior Manager, Oracle Analytics and AWARE Program Manager, Accenture
Johnson says AWARE has garnered strong market interest across the US and Europe and in both the private and public sectors. One reason: it helps businesses sustain the talent they need to attract increasingly choosy job seekers who want employers to share their social values. A global survey of job seekers across industries showed that 39% of candidates did not pursue or accept a job because they thought the workplace lacked inclusion. AWARE helps companies close the gap between rhetoric and reality. “When I interview candidates at Accenture, I get questions like, ‘What’s it like being a Black man here?’” Johnson says.
AWARE’s ability to predict progress is another key benefit. After entering IDE goals, employers can quickly identify timelines and set expectations. They can even predict high-performing and long-tenured employees. “These predictive capabilities are much more strategic than simply keeping headcount,” Johnson notes. “You can start planning for what’s to come and get ahead of issues.” Put another way, the days of being reactive and merely checking compliance boxes are over.
The solution can also help to strengthen retention. “Inclusion reduces attrition,” Johnson says. “If you focus only on diversity numbers, you might get people to join your team, but if they don’t feel included, they’ll leave. I personally believe inclusion is the next level of disruption.”
Besides identifying trouble spots—for example, regions or locations with a low percentage of women in management roles—AWARE shines a light on what companies are getting right. A company’s IDE metrics might appear average compared to the Fortune 1000’s, but among industry competitors those numbers might be stellar—a bit of good news to broadcast to shareholders, job seekers, and employees.
Teaming with Hernández to envision and develop AWARE has been more than a project for Johnson. “It was like all my life experiences had come to a point where I thought, ‘Here’s why you’ve been doing what you’re doing.’” He points to Accenture apprenticeship programs that teach highly diverse students to create algorithms, an example of the inclusion AWARE is designed to build.
Hernández notes that AWARE reflects the diversity of those who developed it: young and old, US and global, and a mix of races and genders. It’s a technology product tuned to what it means to be human. “Companies perform with humans,” Hernández says. “And anytime humans are involved, you need to have a conversation about IDE.”
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Mark Jackley is an Oracle digital content specialist.