How to get the diversity data you need
Effectively capturing and analysing diversity data
This post, by our in-house diversity data expert Teresa Norman, is about a really important aspect of your Diversity Strategy: using data to understand where you need to focus your efforts and using it to measure your success.
When I am running workshops, I often ask participants “what do senior managers want?” The answer is “they want data”. They want to know that their investment in time and commitment is having an impact. They may enjoy the stories of personal success and remember them, but when they themselves are challenged by their stakeholders, they want the hard evidence in quantitative data. They want to see that the results for under-represented groups are improving, that the organisation is becoming more inclusive or the profile of service users or customers is becoming broader.
I looked up what are the trends in diversity for 2019. The answer that came back was, ‘testing diversity initiatives with data’ and that data analytics will provide the evidence for evaluation of any D&I initiatives. But, it’s not just about the evaluation. The evidence should also tell you where to focus. It might tell you that positive action is needed as not enough people from different groups are being promoted. It might tell you that certain groups do not apply for your posts or breakthrough at different points in the recruitment process (see here for more on inclusive recruitment). Or that some groups do not use your services.
Once your data has guided you to where you should focus, you can then set your evidence-based strategy. You can then go back to your baseline data and see whether your actions have generated results.
The following gives you some top tips on generating and using your evidence base:
1) You need baseline evidence.
This could be the composition of your workforce or your service users. If you don’t have enough information about the service users, your approximate source of what you should expect are ONS statistics about the local population. ONS statistics can also give you trends on how the local population is changing over time.
2) You need to work out what is measurable.
What can your systems tell you? If you want to, for instance, focus on promotion rates of different groups, can your HR systems give you this information? Do you have a system for analysing your recruitment data so that you can identify patterns? Are you collecting information on service users so that you can report on the take up of services? Working out how to capture data can be complex and you need to have thought this through as part of your strategy.
3) You need to be able to report on trends.
You might find powerful evidence for your initiatives from looking at trends over time. The Civil Service is, for instance, able to look at the proportion of women in different grades in different departments over years. If this kind of evidence is available to you, you could make a powerful case for the need to accelerate progress or that enough progress is being made. You can then show how your initiatives are making a difference over time.
4) Decide on your reporting points
Sometimes the reporting points will be dictated by legislation e.g. on the Gender Pay Gap or if you are in the public sector, to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, you will need to make annual reports. In other sectors, you can choose the times you will be reporting back. Give yourself reasonably long lead times, it takes time to make a difference.
5) Data is not enough, it needs analysis
Data is not enough on its own, it needs analysis. If it shows that certain groups are not accessing your services or breaking through, then this needs an explanation as to why it is happening and why it matters and of course, what you are going to do about it. Senior managers are busy people who need to know why they should invest time in changing outcomes. As you progress your strategy, ideally, you will be explaining how the action you have taken has created improvements in results.
Your diversity strategy has the power to make your organisation: more innovative, to improve staff engagement and to deliver better results. We know that these are the outcomes of an inclusive culture – do not under-estimate its importance to the business. But it can only do this, if its underpinned by robust data. Your data gives you the power to act.
‘Information is power only if you can take action with it, then and only then does it represent knowledge, and consequently power’. – Daniel Burrus, Disruptive Innovation Expert, Futurist Author and Speaker
At EW Group, we can support you to effectively capture and analyse diversity data through our Diversity Data Course. Likewise, we offer a variety of Diversity Audit and Analysis services. Get in touch to find out more.