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Leverage Your People Analytics to Drive an Inclusive Workplace Culture

Companies are utilizing people analytics in targeting an inclusive workplace culture more than ever before as working remote and how to reach each and every employee has become the new normal. Getting an honest view on progress related to diversity, the equity within business processes, and how inclusive the corporate culture is through people analytics is becoming more and more difficult for Human Resources departments and companies as a whole.  This has been a tremendous year of change for companies and these forces of change are drastically altering the landscape of work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many people-related challenges, specifically with work force reductions or remote working. More recently, the protests for racial justice has shined a light on corporate deficiencies related to supporting employees in their pursuit for equality.  The uncertainty will continue throughout the year as the United States faces a pivotal election in the fall.

These events have challenged nearly every aspect of work, from adjusting to working from home to shifting organizational structure. A national poll shows that women and people of color are affected by job loss at a higher rate than their male and white counterparts – due to these demographics overrepresented in retail, hospitality, recreation, and manufacturing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has happened in an already changing world of work, with a rapid rise of automation that is forcing workers to consider if they will be competing with or working with technology in the near future and even current events. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that this is an election year in the United States, adding societal and political pressure to individuals, organizations, and corporations to think about the future of economy and how we, as individuals, will work.

The various reasons mentioned above – a global pandemic, rapidly rising automation, and an unpredictable economic outlook – that make diversity, equity, and inclusion work challenging for corporations. For some organizations, the uncertain economic landscape is reason enough to put diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives on pause and focus on initiatives that affect the top-line. However, it is this economic uncertainty that make understanding and improving the diversity and inclusion and sentiments of your talent, your organizations greatest asset, essential.

Whether it is the future on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of automation and digital on your business, or how your company navigates the changing social and political dynamics – at the center of it all is your employees and your corporate culture. Now that we are living in a data-driven world, it is the prime opportunity for HR and talent management teams to use data to drive organizational effectiveness through diversity, equity, and inclusion.

People Analytics and an Inclusive Workplace Culture

To leverage data to optimize organization’s overall inclusive workplace culture, human resource departments should work with the organization to:

  • Track diversity data and representation throughout all areas and levels of your organization
  • Leverage data to understand how inclusive your workplace is and how valued your employees feel
  • Utilize visualization tools and network analysis to uncover organizational blind spots

Track diversity data and representation throughout all areas and levels of your organization 

There is an adage of, “what gets measured gets managed, what gets managed gets done.” While this may not be true 100% of the time, if moving the needle on diversity and realizing its positive effects in your organization is important to your organization, it is imperative that you begin understanding your “people data,” setting targets and goals, and tracking them consistently.

In 2017, only 3% of the Fortune 500 companies published their full diversity data across job categories and management levels. Outside of companies not collecting and publishing diversity data, one of the challenges with diversity reporting is that the analytics do not dive to a deep enough level. Reporting is usually collected at the aggregate level, “what are the gender and racial makeup of our entire population,” rather than at each level. It is important to go for depth when it comes to your diversity data and look at representation across each job category, business unit, and work role. This will highlight potential organizational blind spots, where unconscious bias may come into play, and why you may be recruiting diverse talent but not retaining them.

In their latest Corporate Responsibility Report, Intel recently set a goal of staffing women in at least 40% of their technical positions by 2030 and doubling the women and employees of color in senior level positions. The goal is ambitious and the only way that it can be accomplished is if it gets measured, analyzed, and managed consistently and at a comprehensive level – by role, management level, job function, and geographic location.

A first step employers can take is developing a taskforce to own the collection and analysis of diversity data, including diversity goals and metrics in their corporate responsibility report to help hold the company accountable for making progress, or to develop a consistent process for collecting and analyzing diversity and inclusion metrics to unlock organizational insights.

Leverage data to understand how inclusive your workplace is and how valued your employees feel

Measuring for diversity is easy, it simply takes time and organization of your employee data; but measuring inclusion is significantly more difficult. How do you measure a feeling? How can you understand patterns of sentiment and experience among employee groups, such as race, gender, departments, age, geographic location, or work role? The bigger challenge is how do you understand these patterns on an intersectional level?

Although getting a pulse on these experiences is a challenge you can do so by measuring employee sentiment and feelings of exclusion (rather than inclusion). Leveraging a climate or engagement survey, you can ask questions covering the breadth of the employee experience – pay, likelihood of leaving, relationships with managers and coworkers, perspective on diversity and inclusion, and feelings of value and ownership. Leveraging analytics, you can begin to derive insights on inclusion of various employee groups.

According to the Neuroleadership Institute there are five areas that organizations should gain employee perspective on to understand inclusion that should be covered in your assessment:

  • Status – do your employees feel respected?
  • Certainty – are employees in the loop?
  • Autonomy – are employees given choices and control over their work?
  • Relatedness – do employees feel like they belong?
  • Fairness – do employees feel like they get the same credit and opportunities as others?

After analyzing the status of inclusion, your organization can begin to develop an impactful plan of action to move the needle and realize the benefits of inclusion that affect your company’s top and bottom line, such as a 56% increase in job performance, 50% decrease in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days

Leaders that will reap the benefits of organizational effectiveness will use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide visibility into talent inequalities, gaps in inclusion, and areas in the employee experience that may have negative impacts of unconscious bias. It will be these leaders that help close gender and racial gaps, retain the best talent, and create inclusive places to work where employees feel valued and appreciated.

Use visualization tools and network analysis to uncover organizational blind spots 

Organizational transformation has always been hard but leveraging data to fuel transformation – especially as it relates to corporate and inclusive workplace culture is another level of a challenge. The good news is that it can be accomplished, the better news is that leveraging data for these assessments reduces the time, resources, and capital that can be loss with “guess and check” initiatives.

Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) is a growing field in People Analytics that can help organizations better understand employee communication, network representation, and connectedness. In short it provides a new perspective on how people show up in an organization and can help inform a sustainable people-first approach to transformation.

There are some areas in which Organizational Network Analysis can uncover hidden informal connections to objectively understand organizational and inclusive workplace culture; areas that your company is doing well and areas which are ripe for transformation. For example:

  • Identifying inherent diversity (such as gender and race), acquired diversity (cross-functional), or lack thereof in employee’s core networks. We often see affinity bias in our networks. We interact with people that look like us or have similar perspective which can put a damper on achieving your diversity and inclusion goals.
  • Finding hidden talent that are “go-to” resources and highly valued amongst their peers. There may be individuals who do not have a prominent functional role but actually have large amounts of social capital. That hidden talent can prove to be valuable in influencing others for upcoming transformation initiatives.
  • Understanding gender differences in collaborative behaviors within your company. For example, based on Organizational Network Analysis you can determine if there are gaps in cross-functional collaboration due to underutilized people in gender-diverse networks. You can also identify if organizational leaders are interacting with or mentoring across gender differences.

It is through Organizational Network Analysis in which you can “connect the dots” to visualize culture and employee interactions that typically cannot be observed on the surface through formal organizational charts. Through network visualizations, organizations can proactively pinpoint pockets of challenging cultures before they spread, identify D&I champions or those with high social capital to spearhead transformation initiatives, or develop mentorship programs aimed at increasing diversity and promoting inclusion.

We should treat “the new normal” that may be referenced ad nauseam, as a “new opportunity” to develop a foundation of inclusion and equity as well as a value of diversity for organizations. With the bulk of the workforce working from home, now is the time where it is necessary to leverage data to understand inclusive workplace culture and promote equity. Whether its institutionalizing a process to track diversity data through reporting, to better understand the climate of inclusion among your employees with advanced analytics or assess culture and networks through organizational network analysis.

Through these measures, organizations can start to unlock the benefits of increased innovation, increased collaboration, decrease in employee turnover and sick days as well as an increase in  profitability and market share.

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Contributions by Lorraine Mackiewicz and Sam Wilgus. 

Tags: Corporate Social Responsibility, Analytics, Data & Analytics, Diversity + Inclusion
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