Q&A With Laura Close, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Included

This interview is part of a series on Workology that features an HR Technology company, its founder, and its features. For this post, we’re talking to Laura Close, Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Included.

Laura Close is a 20-year veteran of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) space. She started this work at a time before the term “DEI” was coined and spent her career locking in new structural opportunities and access for historically excluded communities, as well as coaching executive leaders on designing and deploying KPIs for DEI at scale. 

 Says Laura, “I’m proud of the decade and a half I spent building capacity for economic and racial justice in the United States. For example, I designed and led strategic campaigns to change policies and improve outcomes for the welfare-affiliated workforce, which allowed me to travel and meet with leaders and think critically about what it means to build up leadership among women of color in those populations. This was one of the most formative experiences of my career. With all of this valuable experience in my back pocket, from founding my own executive coaching firm to meeting and hearing stories from individuals with amazing backgrounds, I have now co-founded Included, which is a technology platform that enables enterprise DEI to drive results in representation among workforce and leadership at scale and across every level.”

Q&A With Laura Close, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Included

 

Q: Why are diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics so important?

Well, you can’t improve what you don’t measure, right? DEI is more than training; it’s about more than changing hearts and minds. It’s about removing barriers to equity for historically marginalized people. Without the data to back it up, I may have a sort of vague idea that we aren’t hiring enough Black women. But data can show me how well my company’s DEI hiring efforts are performing. Taking that an extremely crucial step further, the Included platform can show you exactly where Black women (or Latinx men, or whichever demographic group you need to see) are getting washed out of the hiring funnel, and it can tell you why.

Now more than ever, companies are being held accountable for their stated commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With SEC mandates to disclose demographic information and strategies, increased consumer-end scrutiny, and a growing body of data proving that diversity increases innovation and corporate earnings, there’s never been a better time to start tracking these critical metrics. 

Q: How does Included support the efforts of HR and DEI leaders?

My co-founders and I created the Included DEI people experience platform with the evolving needs of Chief Diversity Officers, Talent Acquisition Leaders, HR professionals, and diverse employee groups at the forefront of the vision. Our solution was built so that these professionals can see and understand their DEI data instantly, in real time. The platform lets users jump to the exact point in the hiring funnel that there is an equity gap, and solve it immediately. Our users are seeing a 19% increase in diverse candidates at the top of the funnel, 99% faster DEI reporting through eliminated data prep analysis, and a 1.5x increase in hiring of diverse candidates. 

Q: What are the inherent benefits of a diverse workforce for an organization?

I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: study after study has demonstrated that more diverse teams perform much better, and more diverse companies execute with more innovation and ultimately bring in higher revenue (close to 20%, by some measures). Broader representation means broader perspectives, more unique ideas,  and products that will draw a diverse customer base. More diverse companies see lower hiring costs and improved employee retention and satisfaction.

Q: How does Included’s AI technology help identify areas for improvement in DEI?

Ah, I’m so glad you asked! Included is the first platform of its kind to analyze millions of different scenarios for instant access to actionable data and insights on diversity within a company’s own people-data set. Our goal has always been to create proactivity in DEI, which is why we made sure our software not only gave companies insights on DEI hiring and retention trends but also nudges them with data-based action steps to take regarding their candidate & employee experience These data-driven recommendations allow companies to care for employees with as much effort as we care for the customer!

Q: Can you describe Included’s DEI People Experiences  Platform? 

Included is a DEI people experiences platform that connects to your HR systems and discovers DEI insights, trends, and predictions you can act on. Now you can easily set and track DEI goals, and suggest data-based actions for managers, talent teams, and leaders. One example is that Included can show you which diversity recruitment channels are delivering the candidates that get hired by our company, and our AI can predict workforce diversity based on your current candidate pipeline and other related data points.  

Learn more about Included here.

Connect with Laura Close on LinkedIn.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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