Corporate digital responsibility: The role of human resource leaders
Around the world it seems that our laptop computers are constantly toggling between meetings on Zoom, Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, and other applications. While these simple connection tools have changed the way we hold meetings and conduct our workplace interactions, many other digital innovations have also been rapidly introduced in areas related to finance, accounting, management processes and other core operational activities.
These activities are quickly bringing about an unanticipated digital transformation in organizations and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions in many companies. While most such innovations provide great business benefits, it is important that HR leaders consider the implications of these changes related to people. In other words, this is a critical point for taking a responsible leadership role by examining the implications of digital changes. Professor Michael Wade at the IMD Business School suggests several areas that comprise an overall view on corporate digital responsibility. Six of these factors have a direct link to the role of HR leaders as stewards of the human capital of the firm.
- Ensuring data privacy protection: Most businesses have taken care to mind the data privacy of their customers and follow regulatory requirements around the world. It is equally important to be mindful of how we use and share the digital information of our employees and others in our workforce. For example, Microsoft introduced a new analytics toolset for their own employees to provide insight on feedback on collaboration patterns, work productivity, application usage and other factors. To make sure this data was not misused, the HR leaders helped to create guidelines related to who would have access, how it would be stored, and how this information would be guarded.
- Pursuing socially ethical practices: As organizations develop new digital innovations that may create business value, it is important to also consider the impact on other stakeholders such as the local community and others in society. With pressure on the financial performance in many industries due to the impact of the pandemic, it can be helpful to pause and consider any unintended consequences of digital innovations.
- Promoting digital diversity and inclusion: In some ways, the digital workplace has a way of creating equal opportunities for inclusion due to the nature of interaction and communication. For example, when a regional firm required everyone in the workforce to download a smartphone app to access their services, they neglected a significant segment of their workers who did not own a smartphone. Digital inclusion can take many different forms and HR leaders must consider how to build a digitally healthy workforce.
- Respecting data ownership rights: Around the world it can be easy to replicate digital solutions or use digital products without securing the rights. In addition, we see new avenues for sharing digital content and often times a blurring of personal platforms and company platforms.These can create potential challenges related to the ownership and access rights with data and other solutions. Having a clear sense and policy can help provide clarity if needed in the future.
- Ensuring ethical AI decision-making algorithms: The advances in artificial intelligence have created many improvements in services and automation. However, new considerations are emerging as artificial intelligence and other solutions can be developed with unintended bias or discrimination. Even simple applications of AI such as those in many talent acquisition processes for resume screening and applicant management can be prone to bias. It is important to test and eliminate potential bias related to diversity for example.
- Following responsible data validation and disposal practices: With the risks associated with maintaining accurate data as well as the compliance needs related to data disposal, it is important that HR professionals have a clear view of the accuracy of data, the retention of data, and the processes associated with disposing of data when it comes to employee as well as other personal data from stakeholders.
As organizations embrace digital solutions to reshape ways of working with the various stakeholders of the firm, CHROs have the opportunity and obligation to ensure corporate digital responsibility. The current situation with COVID-19 is accelerating digital innovation around the world to make long-lasting improvements in the way that people work and live. While many of these advances can be seen as harmless, we are still learning about the impact of decisions in the digital era.
CHROs have an opportunity to help ensure that organizations are mindful of their corporate digital responsibility. How can HR leaders help enable a bold digital future that enables trust and is sensitive to our human resources?
As we all become accustomed to our digital connections on Zoom, Teams, Skype and other tools, we have also placed our trust in our organizations to manage our digital efforts in a responsible manner. In this rapid rise of digital innovation, CHROs have an opportunity to help ensure that organizations are mindful of their corporate digital responsibility. I hope HR leaders will rise to this new challenge to enable a bold digital future that enables trust and is sensitive to our human resources.
With pressure on the financial performance in many industries due to the impact of the pandemic, it can be helpful to pause and consider any unintended consequences of digital innovations
With the accelerated adoption of digital solutions in many companies, it is important that HR leaders consider the implications of these changes related to people. In other words, this is a critical point for taking a responsible leadership role by examining the implications of digital changes