As previous Forrester research has shown, gender bias remains an urgent concern in cybersecurity, and issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion go far beyond gender. In the bot management world, where end users historically struggled with CAPTCHAs and other challenges that didn’t always support visual and physical impairments, having diverse voices in the room can mean higher accuracy and better customer experience (CX). Bot management solutions, which identify who is human and who is a bot, rely on a broad understanding of how humans behave. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a moral imperative — it also helps make better, more inclusive products and even helps attract and retain top talent.

For The Forrester Wave™: Bot Management, Q2 2022, we asked vendors to share information on how they address DEI in their product and how they address DEI in their organization. The responses show an increasing commitment toward supporting users of all abilities and investment in a more inclusive workplace for their employees.

Product Accessibility Is A Priority

Most of us hate the old-fashioned visual challenges where we have to scrutinize a scrawly graphic to figure out characters or identify a taxi cab in a picture. Most bot management vendors have moved away from these types of challenges to more accessible options, and some have done away with user-facing challenges entirely, preferring invisible options like proof of work. Crucially for the security or marketing pros who use the tools, several vendors have also made their consoles WCAG- and 508-compliant (or are in the process of doing so). Many vendors have scrubbed non-inclusive language like “blacklist” and “whitelist” from product UI and documentation — although a few who think they’ve done so need to go back and review their decisions.

DEI Programs Include Both Standard And Innovative Initiatives

During our Wave research, vendors spoke about sponsoring Pride events, fundraisers for Black Lives Matter, and partnerships with Anita Borg, Cyversity, or Donately. To recruit diverse talent, leaders highlighted partnerships with PowerToFly and using Handshake to reach students at HBCUs. Firms are becoming more expansive and creative in their DEI programs. I’d like to give particular kudos to the following initiatives, which I hope others will emulate:

  • An internal training session around menopause
  • Mental health champions
  • Adding nonbinary as an identification option for employees
  • Pay equity reviews

Top DEI Programs Emphasize Metrics, But Transparency Needs Work

One of the most thorough DEI programs we found came from a vendor that had success measurements across four different elements: inclusion, diversity, equity, and allyship. Metrics included internal survey scores, increased representation, and mentoring and career development participation. Most vendors shared representation metrics, and a few shared targets. However, those diversity metrics and targets are less impressive if the website shows a less-than-diverse executive team or board of directors — or if the large team in the Wave demo is all male. And it was disappointing that only a few vendors had public-facing sites highlighting their DEI work — during last year’s software composition analysis (SCA) Wave, a much higher percentage of vendors had DEI pages that were easy to find on the corporate website. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these vendors adopt a higher degree of transparency in the coming year.

Why Should Buyers Care?

Whether or not DEI is personally important to you, choosing a vendor committed to DEI just makes sense: Forrester’s research has found that diverse organizations have better business results. Buyers looking for more fruitful long-term vendor relationships will want to align themselves with a vendor that sees the value of DEI and can feed those better results back into leading research and ongoing product enhancements. At a more tactical level, remember that a segment of your end customers will value accessible, low-friction interactions and complain about challenges that make your application less accessible.

For more on bot management and the key vendors we reviewed, check out The Forrester Wave™: Bot Management, Q2 2022, or reach out for an inquiry.