How to use data to better understand your organisation’s D&I landscape?

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By Jai Thade, Head of Content

Today, in the wake of the big data explosion, crucial strategic decisions are increasingly dependent on the vast amounts of data we have available to us. However, to make effective data-led diversity and inclusion decisions, you need the right mindset and tools.

Through our experience with organisations across the globe, we’ve realised how getting the mindset with which we approach data right is the first tool to help identify when there’s more to data than meets the eye. This kind of mindset has also shaped the way we approached the design of D&I ROI, one of our flagship tools that we use for organisational analysis.

Alongside this mindset shift, it is also important to ensure you are looking at the correct metrics and gathering the correct data. Merely collecting data, even a lot of data, is not enough.

To make sure you are measuring the metrics correctly, you need to keep your pre-existing beliefs and convictions around specific metrics in check. Such beliefs and convictions are often based on conventional thinking, and conventional thinking can potentially hold you back from having insights. For instance, conventional thinking may lead you to measure the success of an organisation when you notice an increase in employee performance, but is that increase associated with an increase in inclusion? If not, that increase in performance will not be sustainable! This useful context will allow you to reappraise how good the news of performance is and diagnose a problem either way. Remember: when it comes to data, context is important.

Thus, looking at the correct metrics and gathering the correct data is exceedingly important. For instance, when it comes to our D&I ROI tool, metrics were carefully chosen based on research, our extensive experience working with organisations across the globe as well as our expertise when it comes to management and leadership. We worked to ensure we’re measuring all relevant factors that are truly important for organisational success.

It is also important to make sure you’re not missing out on any key variables relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve. Even one or two missing variables can obscure the big picture when solving crucial organisational problems. It’s for this very reason that we at In Diverse Company collect as broad a range of variables as possible for our D&I ROI tool, from promotional opportunities for employees to your organisation’s level of customer understanding in particular markets and more.

Ultimately, effectively leveraging data is about drawing connections between the various data points you have collected. These connections help paint a context around individual data points, leading to insights you wouldn’t have otherwise had. For instance, you may have an excellent maternity policy in place as compared to your competitors. But how is career progression affected by taking maternity leave? Do women tend to leave the workplace at the end of the leave, or do they return?

It’s only when making connections between these disparate data points that the bigger picture becomes clear. However, drawing such connections manually can be difficult. It is often more efficient and more effective to rely on artificial intelligence. With our D&I ROI tool, we collect data points such as the ones mentioned above and also leverage the power of AI to draw such connections.

When it comes to understanding the context and bigger picture, nothing can replace non-numerical or qualitative data. As any experienced researcher knows, not all valuable data can be distilled to a number. For instance, numeric data can quantify your employee turnover rate. However, it cannot tell you why that turnover rate is increasing or decreasing.  One can make hypotheses and assumptions behind the root causes of such behaviours based on related numeric data, but these cannot be a complete substitute for the qualitative (or non-numeric) data that could emerge through interviews or focus groups. Thus, qualitative data helps explain the “why” behind any findings.

This is a piece of the data puzzle that organisations often miss out on and given the importance of this, we have made it one of the central pillars of our D&I ROI tool.  We arrange discussions, sessions, and focus groups with key stakeholders, executives, and employees to gain a more insightful understanding of D&I within your organisation.

We at In Diverse Company strongly believe that measuring diversity is useful to describe representation within the business, but it does not tell the full story. Demographics of an organisation tell us nothing about how included its employees feel. For example, diversity data may indicate a good representation of women and those from marginalised groups in senior leadership, but it’s only inclusion data that can reveal whether they feel excluded and consequently are unable to contribute their best at work.

Thus, inclusion data can help you to better understand and explain the underlying causes of the diversity data. This is exactly the reason why, in our D&I ROI tool, we measure not just diversity but inclusion metrics, so that you are getting the full picture of the reality of D&I in your organisation.

In summation, there is often more to data than meets the eye. Low productivity might be a D&I problem, not a skilling or a motivational problem. Employee turnover could actually be a success measure – indicating that working in your organisation gives individuals the learning and confidence to take on bigger roles at other companies or start something on their own successfully. The examples are countless. It is only when we approach data with the right mindset and the correct tools that we can properly leverage it and derive meaningful insights from it.

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If you are interested to learn more about our D&I ROI tool, you can reach out to us at info@indiversecompany.com.

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