Can artificial intelligence (AI) build on the value technology has brought to workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs? This question is especially relevant when we know that the tone of content, the learner reactions, and the emotions experienced within DEI messaging are so quintessentially human.

For many years, technology has played a supporting role in the success of DEI strategies—whether by enabling remote working or generating equal opportunities with the help of assistive technology. Specifically, AI has already had an impact to some degree on practical DEI, with tools to eliminate biased language in job listings and machines identifying patterns in corporate data to address inequality in succession planning.

Let’s turn the focus, though, to workplace training—and explore the benefits and risks of AI as we go deeper into the very human aspects of DEI development.

Leveraging AI’s potential

As a technology, AI is rapidly evolving. However, the following are four ways AI can already extend the impact of DEI concepts into the learning experience:

1. Enhance the interactive content creation process

There are already a host of AI-enhanced learning technologies in the workplace that, when used correctly, can reduce time-consuming production tasks and unlock elevated levels of learning experience, as subject matter experts invest their time connecting with learners through human-centered design.

DEI practitioners know the value of experiential learning and the benefits learning resources, such as interactive video, can provide. However, this type of solution comes with a hefty time and cost investment that is out of reach for many internal budgets.

Thanks to AI-enhanced video and virtual reality (VR) generation platforms, learning designers can finally break away from lengthy text-based case studies and use diverse environments, characters, and audio to create experiential encounters, where learners can practice inclusive behavior—without the fear of making mistakes or causing harm.

However, although AI creates the canvas for diverse representation, a caveat on the use of 'synthetic' humans is to acknowledge the risks of inherent bias often present in homogeneous teams. Although your on-screen human may look and sound like a Black American female, the avatar, voice selection, and the very words coming out of their mouth may come from a very different type of person—the team member who created the avatar.

If this is the case, consider authenticating your production by engaging a real human with the characteristics of your avatar to sense-check your development—thus reducing the risk of embedding stereotypes or distorting already under-represented voices

2. Continuously curate personalized DEI learning paths

Personalized learning paths are effective in meeting each learner’s specific needs, and this rings true for DEI content. Generative AI can suggest reading material and relevant learning resources, simply by asking users to identifying topics of interest. Outside of adaptive learning paths, personalized on-demand learning journeys have been difficult to scale, but—with the support of AI algorithms—organizations can provide personalized learning experiences to the masses, by adjusting content, difficulty, and the pace of instruction based on the learner's performance, behavior, and preferences.

It is important to remember that, in the absence of personalized and relevant learning pathways, search becomes the natural go-to for on-demand learning. But search results often miss the relevance mark due to the bombardment of multiple perspectives, conflicting agendas, and the learner’s inability to distinguish accurate and relevant content from mere noise.

Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, can continuously curate and deliver personalized learning, especially for DEI concepts. Content catalogue providers are already leveraging generative AI to help employees create personalized learning paths from their existing content—and this affords DEI practitioners a plethora of critically acclaimed content.

3. Improving accessibility

AI tools supporting inclusive design and learner accessibility mean that DEI training specialists can practice what they preach, creating truly inclusive and accessible resources for all. Using these tools, designers and developers can scan materials for screen reader compatibility and adjust contrast in color schemes to support learners with visual impairments. Speech recognition tools can convert spoken words into text, and vice versa, for learners with visual or verbal communication requirements.

4. Spotlighting content bias

AI technology has a valuable role to play in helping to identify and mitigate biases in training material. By analyzing text, images, and videos, AI algorithms can flag potential biases in language, representation, or case studies—enabling trainers to modify content so that it is inclusive, respectful, and representative of diverse perspectives.

However, as Amazon discovered back in 2014 with its gender-biased recruiting tool, trainers cannot rely only on AI for quality assurance. While AI can help identify human bias in digital resources, there are many ways that discrimination issues can occur in content design—even if your training data do not reference obvious protected characteristics such as gender or race. The reality is that data points are often strongly linked to characteristics in non-obvious ways, such as occupation. These "proxy variables" allow the model to replicate discriminatory patterns connected to these links.

This means that, if your L&D team relies solely on AI tools to write gender equality eLearning material, some of the data is likely to be pulled from material with biased patterns. There is then a very real danger that the content will start to reinforce stereotypes—that women are better suited to nurturing roles or administrative tasks, for example, while men are more suited to leadership positions or technical roles.

Considerations around AI dependency

1. AI struggles with context

If you were to list out AI’s strengths, these would absolutely include abilities in data processing, repetition, and efficiency. But what you won’t find (yet) is emotional intelligence, recognition and use of context, or empathy—all of which are the make-or-break attributes of successful (and human) DEI learning facilitators.

The most effective DEI training is built on complex social and cultural dynamics, with trainers reading and responding to the reactions and emotions in the room. Discussions are tailored to the interests and needs of participants, and information is contextualized. Even with their creativity turned up hot, AI systems are likely to struggle with these kinds of sensitivities to behavior and context—as Microsoft’s AI chatbot Tay demonstrated a few years ago, when, having learned from its interactions with real people, it turned into a Holocaust-denying racist.

2. AI does not have the benefit of lived experience

The true unlocking of DEI messaging comes not from the sterile business benefits, but from the authentic human honesty and the unique realities of those working alongside us. Lived experience provides a unique perspective on the world and is emerging as an invaluable insight beyond the grasp of AI.

While AI can write scripts and content that verbosely celebrate the importance of inclusive practice, the specifics may be lacking, as AI does not have the personal insights or narrative details of a DEI specialist—meaning the content received can be considered cold, uninteresting, or inauthentic.

Being human doesn’t automatically guarantee inspirational training design or delivery—we know that there are plenty of DEI specialists who regurgitate iceberg models and sell eLearning with endless scrolls of text. But the difference between AI and human learning design is that humans are able to apply emotional intelligence and connect content not just on a head level, but on a heart level too. Human narrative and contextual understanding are essential in DEI development, and AI presently falls short in this regard. 

3. AI hasn’t traveled the world

A dream of many budget-restrained organizations is using AI technology for rapid, low-cost, and accurate translation of their learning content. However, while computerized translations may help lost tourists abroad, the technical limitations that prevent AI from looking beyond the word mean that automated translations are unable to offer anything more than literal conversion—void of contextual meaning.

The reality is that AI may not always capture your intended meaning or convey your messaging in the most culturally appropriate manner. It is vital to be aware of the risks when it comes to accurately capturing language nuances, cultural context, and sensitivities.

Did you know that several languages do not have a word for "inclusion"? Or that some DEI terms have very different meanings in different languages, meanings that can cause offense if used in the wrong context?

Local human linguists do know this—and that’s why human verification is so essential, as Facebook found out when its AI-based translations service caused a Palestinian man to be arrested after posting a selfie in front of a bulldozer with his Arabic caption "good morning." The post was automatically translated to "attack them" in Hebrew and "hurt them" in English. When the error was identified, the man was released—but Facebook was left red-faced when it admitted that no Arabic speakers had been engaged to consult on its automatic translations.


There is no doubt that the future of productivity is built upon a hybrid of human and AI partnership. Imagine just how far AI can extend your DEI learning reach—rapidly curating learning paths, supporting personal learning needs, and enhancing inclusive individual accessibility.

But do not underestimate the value of human insight. The truly successful businesses will be the ones that realize their transformation isn’t a singular switch, but a connective plug-in powered by the needs of the learners, not the capabilities of a shiny new tool. DEI is about people and the evolution of our interactions. As you roll out your DEI strategies, it’s down to you to live up to the promise of being that authentic intelligent human!