- Records of digital agreements and e-signatures may provide organizations insight on the state of diversity, equity and inclusion in their respective workplaces, according to an analysis published this month by Adobe.
- The firm's survey of 1,400 U.S., U.K. and Australia enterprise workers found that male respondents were more likely than their female counterparts to be a necessary signatory for a document, while the former were also more likely to be the final signatory. Additionally, underrepresented minority employees spent six more minutes securing signatures from co-workers, on average, than other employees.
- One quarter of respondents said they had seen forms with limited fields or options to authentically describe themselves with respect to categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, ability or disability, Adobe said. More than half said they wanted more options to describe themselves authentically or less gender-binary language on digital agreements.
Adobe's research provides yet another example of the importance of language choice in DEI policies. Previous analysis of documentation, such as job applications, also has focused on the use of gender-neutral language.
For example, a January report by job advertising firm Appcast found that job ads which avoided male- or female-coded words tended to have a lower cost per application metric — as well as higher application and apply rates — compared to ads that did use such terms. Though Appcast noted the perception of gendered terms may vary across industries, it pointed to common phrases seen in technology industry applications, such as "confidence," "decision" and "logical," which it said were seen as male-coded words. On the other hand, "compassionate," "interpersonal" and "sensitive" were seen as female-coded words in the tech sector, the firm said.
It is an issue of which even the government regulators in charge of enforcing equal opportunity within U.S. workplaces are slow to take note. But sources who previously spoke to HR Dive said that ensuring inclusive documentation may go beyond including or excluding certain categories over others. On employment forms, for instance, it may not be sufficient for an employer to add an "other" category next to the binary gender categories of "male" and "female."
Then there is the broader context and background to the more inclusive policy decisions employers have made in recent months. Beyond making policy changes, some consultants have advised employers to focus on educating workers on the issues faced by underrepresented workers and facilitating candid conversations about workers' identities.