Aequip creates first behavioural analytics DEI platform following funding by Innovate UK
Miriam Lahage, Co-founder and COO of Aequip
Aequip this week announced a key initiative in tackling a problem estimated to cost UK companies £340 billion a year, according to a 2017 study by Perkbox. Supported by funding from Innovate UK, Aequip will develop the world’s first digital tool to measure and actively promote inclusive behaviours within organisations.
While there is a growing demand for and recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion at work, a lack of measurable analytics has led to business leaders hugely over-estimating employee engagement, according to a 2019 study by Workplace. The issue is exacerbated by the acceleration of working from home prompted by the Covid pandemic. Aequip’s new data-driven platform, scheduled to be completed in March 2021, will bridge the gap, prompting improvements in both productivity and organisational agility.
The project entails building a proof-of-concept dashboard, funded through a £135,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. This technology will support improvements in employee-driven innovation and feedback, and will improve inclusion in companies by allowing all employees to express themselves anonymously, without fear of repercussion. It follows the successful creation of a mobile app prototype that has already been developed and deployed in a mix of commercial businesses and charitable organisations.
The digital analytics platform will enable companies to measure the outcomes of their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, by tracking whether and how these increase inclusive behaviours across the workplace, and how that in turn impacts the business overall. It will also include an active component that incrementally nudges employees across the company to develop inclusive practices over time.
Aequip’s work is based on principles of psychological safety originated by Harvard Business School Professor Amy C. Edmondson. Psychological Safety is a shared belief held among staff that there will be no repercussions for expressing ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes – a space where employees can speak up and contribute freely.
Psychological safety user profiles will be created via the analysis of employee generated behavioural data and information from Aequip’s own Inclusion Index, an instrument comprising inclusion, psychological safety and organisational trust metrics already developed by Aequip. These profiles will be used to create bespoke behavioural nudges to target employees and managers and can improve employee-driven innovation and feedback, especially in the case of deskless workers – employees who do not spend the majority of their working hours at a desk.
Liz van Zyl, B2B Tech Marketing Consultant and currently an Advisor to Aequip, stated, “It’s not a new problem, but businesses still struggle to understand why diversity programmes fail and what to do about it. With Aequip, businesses don’t have to do anything – other than harness the tech to drive the process and cultural transformation. It’s a no-brainer.”
Garry Turner, International Product Manager and culture lead for IMCD Group, a global chemicals distributor, and Advisor to Aequip, noted, “Leaders and employees, within the chemicals industry and beyond, are rapidly waking up to the realisation that business, life and the impact on the planet are deeply interconnected. Striving to lead businesses holistically and inclusively is a strategic imperative and critical to talent attraction and retention. I am excited that Aequip is not only solving the very real problem of translating this data into actionable insight, but is also offering a tool to improve the workplace in a data-driven iterative approach. Aequip is coming to market at just the right time.”
An accomplished team of 5 individuals who have demonstrated success in behavioural science, technology, data science, and product development joined Aequip 1 January to deliver on this ambitious project.
The work of bringing together a newly formed team with a big mandate to deliver results while also rooted in a culture of psychological safety and organisational and interpersonal trust in some of the good, hard work that Aequip is doing now.
As Amy C. Edmondson said, “helping to make the workplace an environment where people can feel that they are able to bring their full self to work, that they can make a contribution to something larger than themselves. And that they can feel a sense of being respected and connected to others.”
My co-founders and I had the intention to create a team who were not only highly talented in their area of expertise, but also passionate about the mission of Aequip and interested in a creative, collaborative approach to the project. What we are building has never been done. We have a remarkable, committed team bringing their individual strengths and joining together with a big, bold ambition to enable the workplace of the future.
As Edmondson said, “We need to go out of our way to get people to recognize that in fact, their voice is welcome, their voice is appreciated, that vulnerability is rewarded and necessary.”
Miriam Lahage has more than 30 years of leadership experience at global companies such as TJX, eBay and Net-a-Porter. Miriam was most recently CEO of Figleaves, where she led a product, digital, and organisational transformation. She is Co-founder and COO of Aequip.
About Innovate UK
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. For more information visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org.