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The Right Take on Campus

Do workplaces need technology to 'police' inclusivity?

031018 RAP inclusivity pic
Young people are putting more and more of a focus on diversity. (iStock)

Welcome to the modern office, where “inclusion” has become a major company value, confrontation is avoided at all costs, and workers demand constant positive reinforcement. Today’s workplace has become so complicated for managers to navigate that many are turning to technology for help.

Over the years, Slack has emerged as a powerful mobile tool for office workflow, but new bots are changing the way managers are using the app.

First, there’s Allie, a Slack bot that provides workers a “safe space” to complain to management when a colleague interrupts them. The bot gives companies “aggregated data and trends so that they can proactively improve culture.” Allie CEO Emilie Hsieh believes interruptions are a form of microaggression, a “symptom of unconscious bias or non-inclusive culture,” just like asking someone to take notes or fetch coffee. The tool helps combat these microaggressions, providing tips to the user at the same time.

For those employees who believe the word “guys” is sexist, enter Guys Bot. When someone uses the word “guys” in a Slack conversation, the bot automatically suggests employees use “team, all, folks, everyone, or y’all” instead, shaming the violator for their grievous mistake.

While these bots seek to promote inclusion by policing the workforce, another uses recognition to make employees feel like part of the team.

Disco allows teammates to give “stars” to each other when they’ve done something “helpful or impressive.” It also tracks who’s “giving and receiving the most recognition, and which company values employees tie to recognition.”

As CEO Jeremy Vandehey argues, “It’s more of a human instinct to crave recognition and praise and, ultimately, satisfaction in knowing that we’re doing good work. … We’re spending so much time at work we want to know that it’s bubbling up to something meaningful.”

So much for that sense of personal accomplishment when you know you’ve done a good job. Do today’s workers need a pat on the back for every task they perform?

Experts say that millennials demand “change” in the workplace, but maybe it’s millennials who need to change. Following the example of their alma maters, the snowflake generation has become obsessed with “inclusivity” to the point where no environment is ever inclusive enough, and the slightest action could be perceived as a microaggression. Moreover, many lack the basic skills to deal with office conflict and depend on nonconfrontational ways to express themselves. Until millennials choose to embrace how the world truly works, technology might be the only solution.

Brendan Pringle (@BrendanPringle) is a freelance journalist in California. He is a National Journalism Center graduate and formerly served as a development officer for Young America's Foundation at the Reagan Ranch.