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Importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in Trust and Safety

By May 29, 2024No Comments

It is well established that bias and discrimination within systems are inextricably linked to human health and psychological wellbeing. As such, there is a clear and strong intersect between the provision of solutions to enhance employee wellbeing and the implementation of an effective strategy to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion and, belonging (DEIB) in the workplace. In this article, we explore why this is most especially true in the T&S industry, which has some of the most diverse working populations in the world. 

While AI is playing an increasingly important role in content moderation (CM), the human side of moderating user-generated content requires a workforce that has a comprehensive linguistic capability, while also considering regional context and nuances to inform accurate decision-making. Additionally, other branches of T&S personnel, such as platform policy developers, subject matter experts and, quality assurance team members must also understand the needs and values of the globally dispersed platform user-base. As a result, the biggest employers in the T&S industry, such as large social media companies and BPOs have offices spread across the planet, and each hub can comprise of many teams that specialize in multiple regions/languages. A thorough and evolving DEIB strategy is vital in T&S to facilitate an integrated and cohesive workforce, which not only serves to enhance employee wellbeing, but also impacts performance, collaboration and retention.  

So as an employer in T&S, how do you begin to institute a DEIB strategy that considers and meets the requirements of such a highly diverse and globally dispersed population? Paradoxically, in some ways it is easier than dealing with more homogeneous workforces, particularly advantaged demographics who, more recently, are demonstrating increasing opposition to DEI – particularly in the US. In many other ways, T&S is far more complex and dynamic than other industries and thereby necessitates a very agile and responsive approach to DEIB, with commitment to ongoing revisions and improvements. While this is certainly not an exhaustive exploration, the following are some unique considerations within T&S. 


Two main elements typically fall under the umbrella of diversity; representation and recruitment. As already mentioned, the nature of the work in T&S inherently requires a highly culturally diverse workforce – however there are other representations such as age, gender, sexuality, disability status, among others to be considered.  The question for T&S employers to consider is whether there is diversity across the board, such as gender balance, especially when considering positions in management and higher tiers of leadership. If there isn’t, are there clear legitimate reasons or could unconscious biases be influencing decision making? 

Another reality in T&S is that the unique demands of the CM role can place considerable constraints on the hiring processes and limit capacity to draw from a diverse talent pool, as recruitment is often determined by specific team or workflow requirements. Additionally, in the interest of mitigating psychosocial risk related to hazards in the CM role, some T&S companies implement more rigorous screening for competencies and attributes – such as high emotional intelligence, resiliency, focus, attention and other advanced cognitive skills. The use of tools such as the Personality Profile Assessment and Human Job Analysis to determine the suitability of individuals for the CM role could potentially limit opportunities for some individuals. Ultimately employee health and wellbeing is paramount, so great care is needed when weighing up the pros and cons of electing elements to include in the screening process without discriminating against some groups. It is a delicate balance to strike. 


Equity addresses whether policies and practices enforce fair treatment and opportunities, and fair pay for all employees. In T&S, this can be particularly challenging for several reasons. Firstly, there appears to be significant disparity in pay and benefits offered to CMs that are full-time employees of the platforms they serve, in comparison to contracted CMs hired by third-party vendors. In a recent Zevo Talks interview, Aleksandra Koptyaeva explained how the lack of job security, as well as reduced benefits offered to contract workers can compound other stressors often associated with the CM role. There is also the issue of pay disparity between CMs depending on what part of the world they are based, with significant differences in pay between low, middle and high-income countries. While this of course is a complex and multifaceted dimension with significant commercial implications, this inequity is a harsh reality within T&S that requires attention. 

Another important dimension to consider when assessing if a workplace is equitable is whether employee supports, and job design are tailored to an individual or group’s specific circumstances and needs. For example, strict limitations on break time may impact some populations more than others. While we are seeing great improvements in the domain of women’s health (for example, with menstrual leave now being rolled out in some countries, fertility supports, extensions of maternal leave, and menopause supports getting increasing attention), the change is gradual. Within T&S, other vulnerable groups such as refugees may be joining the workforce from war torn countries and require additional support in comparison to other colleagues.  Again, this can be a complex dimension to consider. 

Inclusion and Belonging 

This is perhaps one of the most challenging and relevant domains to consider in T&S, and most closely overlaps with health and wellbeing initiatives.  Inclusion and belonging addresses how connected and integrated individuals are within the workforce. In T&S, there is often a melting pot of cultural backgrounds based in the same office which inherently gives rise to differing values and worldviews. For example, some cultures treat men and women very differently or may have very strong views about sexuality – it’s complex and highly sensitive. Beyond the more obvious linguistic and cultural differences, serious tensions can arise between co-workers from parts of the world that are experiencing political conflicts.  Employees deserve every support in navigating these challenges, particularly CMs who may be reviewing content that reinforce their biases. This is where health and wellbeing interventions crosspollinate with DEIB efforts, as well-designed interventions may be required to effectively tackle division and separation between groups and colleagues. 

While it can seem like an impossible task to address some of these issues, there are two main things for T&S employers to keep in mind. Firstly, remember that there is no static endpoint in DEIB to be achieved. It is not about attaining ideals but rather, tackling pain points as they arise and advocating for harmony and synergy as much as possible. Secondly, large employers in T&S need to appreciate the value of establishing global DEIB principles and guidelines whilst allowing for these to be adapted based upon regional and local context. A successful strategy will comprise of multiple projects operating in tandem, so a clear plan needs to be outlined and communicated through all tiers, from leadership to managers, HR and to all relevant stakeholders. 

Elements to include when implementing a comprehensive DEIB strategy in T&S: 

  • Consult an expert in DEIB. While there may be individuals in your organization in HR functions or other departments who have already made strides in improving DEI praxis, a third-party expert can bring attention to areas that existing employees may be unconsciously blinded to.  
  • Conduct a robust, site-specific assessment of current employee experience within the organization and identify the apparent pain points and gaps relating to DEIB. Do certain groups feel excluded or unfairly treated? Are there any groups that require extra support? 

Are there any apparent biases, policies, and practices that disenfranchise workers? These are just some of the questions to explore in focus groups and annual DEI surveys. 

  • Establish a DEIB rubric which encompasses metrics, behaviors, skillsets and mindsets within the organization. Consider elements of recruitment, onboarding, job design, management, peer-to-peer engagement, choice architecture and design of the workplace, in addition to output metrics relating to retention and engagement. It is important to include baseline qualitative and quantitative metrics to track meaningful changes over time and get a clearer picture of impact. 
  • Continually revise DEI policy and praxis based upon survey findings and employee feedback. Ensure a broad lens of DEI is maintained which extends beyond race, religion and ethnicity, to consider other marginalized groups such as the neurodiverse, the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, individuals with health conditions, etc. 
  • Communication is the bedrock of trust, so a critical component for organizational effectiveness in DEIB is developing a psychologically safe work environment. Implementing supports that foster healthy and dynamic relationships between co-workers enhances collaboration and strengthens teams. Establishing clear and effective grievance procedures for employees to voice issues and receive timely responses is an effective way to build trust. 
  • Provide training when skillsets and mindsets require development. Emotional intelligence training can increase awareness and facilitate personal evolution – however it can take time, especially if unravelling deeply conditioned cultural biases/ beliefs. As an employer it is important to set the tone of learning and growth, rather than asserting there is a ‘right way’ to relate to one another.  Be transparent about organizational efforts to improve DEIB and clarify that the objective is to enhance work-life quality for all, rather than fix problems. While issues will of course be resolved in the process, there will always be newly emerging challenges and recognizing this can transform the attitude and approach adopted towards DEIB company wide. 
  • Lastly, consider an array of interventions from awareness raising initiatives such as champions and campaigns to long-term mentorship programs. Companies are sometimes accused of being performative, however celebratory efforts still have a place in a larger DEIB strategy – the key is that they are supported by strong values-based initiatives and data-backed imperatives. 

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