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#13Percent: Using Data to Improve Diversity and Inclusion

Posted on February 8, 2016


By Janice D’Aloia, Mo’mix Solutions, LinkedIn and Twitter

Improving and maintaining effective gender and ethnic diversity in local government can be an elusive thing for some organizations.  Most are more than aware of the issue, but addressing and overcoming it has been an ongoing challenge.

While attempting to bridge diversity gaps, organizations typically turn to targeted recruitment and internal awareness training. Hiring a more diverse workforce and promoting an inclusive culture seem like obvious solutions.

13percentScreenshot 2015-10-23 08.25.00Less frequently, however, organizations turn to a deep analysis of their data to help solve the problem. This approach provides beneficial insights that might otherwise be missed.

At the #ELGL15, much discussion centered on local government’s challenge in recruiting diverse employees. There was unanimous agreement that underrepresented groups tend not to see local government as a viable career path. The conversations centered on the difficulty recruiting women and minorities. It was interesting to note that data analytics was not mentioned as a solution to these diversity woes.

In talking with local government leaders, human resource professionals, and diversity officers, they told me that there’s lots of data, but it’s not relevant or it’s difficult to interpret and not necessarily useful.  This data can be made more relevant and useful by aligning it to business needs.

In a human resources setting, new cloud-based analytics tools exist that allow end users to easily access and analyze complex HR data. These tools connect to existing operational and HR systems, and offer pre-built analysis capabilities for HR data models in areas such as recruitment, diversity, and compensation.

Further, through the analysis of demographics and applicant details, these tools can steer hiring practices toward developing diversity within the employee population. Data on applicants can be used to compare and contrast skills, education, experience, and more.

It can be a slippery slope, though. As Kylie Bayer-Fertterer, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, told me, “The trickier aspect is when in the hiring process to expose data points such as gender, race, and age.”

Data can boost diversity and avoid bias in the hiring process — but only if it’s used responsibly.

How Data Can Help You Achieve Diversity

First, let’s measure the benefits that diverse and inclusive organizations reap. This will not build your business case for diversity and inclusion; it will guide you on investing your resources toward it.

Benefits of diversity may seem subjective, but others are clear enough to quantify:

  • Organizational efficiency
  • Financial performance
  • Lower turnover
  • Team performance
  • Improved innovation

With those benefits in mind, a starting point would be to examine whether women and minorities are being treated fairly at your organization. The data is likely there, hiding inside your operational and HR systems.

Search for trends occurring in these areas:

  • Pay raises
  • Performance
  • Tenure
  • Promotions
  • Market pay rates
  • Training

A careful analysis of this information can illuminate whether gender and ethnicity have been key factors in how your organization addresses advancement and other opportunities.

Retention and Succession Through Data

13percentScreenshot 2015-10-22 20.40.57Once your organization has a diverse employee population, or while you’re working to grow it, managing turnover is key.  While data analysis will help your organization achieve a diverse employee population, it can also help you manage turnover and save on recruitment costs. You’ve worked hard to hire the right people, why not also use data to help you retain them.

Higher turnover within the diverse population may indicate that the organization isn’t serving them well.  By looking at historic trends and data points such as position, department, ethnicity, gender, and age, you can determine the common circumstances surrounding previous employee resignations, identify current at-risk employees and groups, and take decisive, corrective action that prevents them from leaving.

Data can also be used to ensure that diversity has been incorporated into an organization’s succession plan. It makes it easier to analyze your list of successors and determine whether or not it’s promoting future diversity within your organization. Identifying and grooming this population for upcoming positions can make efforts to maintain a diverse, inclusive culture much more effective.

So, yes, it’s critical to ensure your organization’s culture is one of inclusion, and that it provides ample training, advancement, and experience opportunities for women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. Analyzing your operational and HR data is a great way to achieve this over the long term — making the tall task of maintaining an effective and diverse workforce a much more manageable process.

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