Today, almost any company can identify some investment being made into the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). However, despite the benefits of conducting a diversity climate survey or focused interviews with employees, many important insights can be gained using data already owned by your organization. Leveraging people analytics, existing workforce data collected passively through a human capital management (HCM) or enterprise resource planning platform (e.g., Oracle HCM, Workday, Sage People, etc.), HRIS data, collaboration software (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Slack), and email communications can provide clear, timely, and sustainable answers to some of most important questions in DE&I. These answers can provide direction towards a variety of DE&I goals, from reducing bias by examining disparities of promotions and pay raises across demographic groups to understanding how patterns of collaboration form along patterns of race or gender through email communication data.
Using the Data You Already Own is Clear
Initial insights within DE&I are sometimes only as valuable as they are easily understandable and actionable by organizational leaders and decision makers. For example, identifying concrete, digestible answers to questions such as: “what is the representation of minority groups across work role?” and “is our diversity increasing over time?” through combining HRIS data are good starting points for a DE&I analysis. In addition, examining HR records of voluntary terminations combined with data on sick days, engagement in collaboration software, and employee demographics to examine how inclusivity (or lack thereof) can shape employee withdrawal and subsequent turnover. Perhaps more importantly, answers provided through familiar data sources may be more easily accepted and acted upon than data conducted from an external survey or DE&I audit.
Using the Data You Already Own is Timely
Perhaps the most important component of translating DE&I insights into action is the timeliness of insights. While the overall representation of minority groups is not something that can shift quickly, the impact of DE&I interventions, such as organizational statements, new DE&I policies, or DE&I training can have immediate impacts. The way employees communicate, collaborate, and interact through collaboration software such as Microsoft teams and Slack can provide immediate answers to questions such as “does the diversity within projects and teams match the diversity of the organization, or is diversity siloed into specific areas and work groups?” as well as “is there a relationship between team diversity and team communication?” Utilizing data from existing organizational platforms not only provides answers to these types of questions, it also provides insights that are immediate and timely during the critical period following DE&I interventions.
Using the Data You Already Own is Sustainable
Being able to continually analyze DE&I data is critical to sustained improvement to both the DE&I climate as well as the performance of the organization. Leveraging data already owned by the organization to gain DE&I insights is a necessity for accomplishing sustained translation of DE&I insights to action. These sustained insights can as simple as “how has targeted recruitment affected diversity” across quarters to more complex sustained insights. For example, being able to continually answer questions such as “is email communication between managers and associates less frequent when the manager and associates have different demographic characteristics?” using to/from email data and “does more frequent email communication between managers and associates lead to higher rates of promotions?” by combining email data with HRIS or HCM data can lead to lasting change through exploring unconscious biases.
It’s Not Only Valuable, it’s Necessary
DE&I climate surveys are important. They often offer an unbiased, objective view of DE&I that can be invaluable to creating a DE&I strategy. However, many organizations already have an enormous amount of data already available to not just begin assessing DE&I, but also continue to provide insights (check out how we approached analyzing the DE&I climate at Monday Night Brewing by combing internal and external sources of data here). Perhaps more importantly, utilizing existing, familiar data sources already owned by the organization can result in DE&I insights that are clear, timely, and sustainable – a combination that not only helps these insights become action, but also help create lasting change and, ultimately, a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
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Contributions by Sam Wilgus