Five steps you can take to build better DEI outcomes with data

To create an organisation that hires and promotes everyone equitably, and has a diverse representation of people, you must confront uncomfortable truths – and have the confidence to employ compassionate solutions. The path to meaningful change cannot be done without data. Data allow us to clearly diagnose issues in a company, and also, just as importantly, to measure what is working. Without data-backed accountability,  it’s unlikely that much will change.

The good news is that, these days, most organisations believe that diverse teams are beneficial to business outcomes, innovation, customer loyalty and employee trust. The better your team represents its customers, the fewer blind spots you’ll have when it comes to meeting customer needs. 

The biggest challenge is not often not around intention, but rather diagnosing what is happening inside an organisation. The reasons contributing to bias are often numerous and complex, like company history, systemic racism and sexism, leaving decisions to ‘gut feelings’, and well-intentioned directives to hire based on “culture fit” that only result in more homogenous teams. 

This is where data are so powerful. 

Data help us look at the facts objectively, and while we might “feel” we hire fairly, it is impossible for a human to hire without bias. Data allow organisations to have an honest look at where they are falling short, assess how specific groups are not being treated equally, and address these issues before churn becomes an issue.

Here are five things you need to be doing to help data drive better Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in your organisation.

1. Identify what data you need

In order to measure and track your progress on DEI you need to look at what current data you have and identify any data gaps. This is more than just identifying the demographics of who you have historically hired. For example, of the women you hired recently, do you know what percentage were represented in applying for a job versus landing a job? If 70% of people applying for the job are women, and 30% are only getting jobs, you need to identify where in the funnel there is a drop-off. 

Note: There are sensitivities and legalities to collecting data around demographics and there are differing laws within countries about how you can do this. 

Sapia’s reporting dashboard DiscoverInsights (Di) takes that worry away and gives you all the real-time metrics needed, and can instantly fill any data gaps you have. Candidates are never asked a personal or intrusive question and this data is not used in vetting candidates (keeping it blind and equatable.)

2. Track leading indicators on inclusion

When hiring managers complain that they only had men applying for a role, or that there wasn’t any representation of Indigenous peoples, or that no one under 40 applied, they are talking about lagging indicators on inclusion. These point to issues in a hiring process that is not inclusive. Leading indicators might be a real-time analysis of the demographics of applicants so that hiring managers can change their approach quickly.

DiscoverInsights (Di) also reduces the the risk of lag indicators on DEI, by giving you real-time lead indicators so you can instantly assess the inclusiveness of your approach to hiring. 

3. Having one single source of truth on DEI

The data and platform you are using to track metrics and assess your progress needs to be agreed on from the outset, and should become your single source of truth. This is an important part of keeping everyone accountable (improving DEI is the responsibility of everyone in a company.) This should be a platform that cannot be used to present a desired outcome, but rather it should aim to be a robust fact-driven dataset that shines a light on issues. Identifying problems is the only way an organisation can address them. 

4. Be transparent about your DEI results

Building trust among your employees on issues around DEI is foundational to the success of your initiatives. Be transparent about your findings, even if they feel uncomfortable. Part of what makes successful DEI measures is the leadership shown by the C-suite in acknowledging faults, identifying how they will be addressed, and making themselves accountable to employees on delivering these changes.

5. Keep iterating on your DEI strategy

This is being accountable. Measure where you are at on DEI, learn from it, and set on improving on where you are. Then do it again. This is where the power of data really lies: By trying initiatives and testing what is working, and then measuring the outcomes, you can iterate quickly when no headway is being made. This takes all the guesswork out of whether there is improvement or not.

We have helped scores of the world’s biggest and best companies implement, track, and achieve their DEI goals. To find out more, check out our guide on data, equity and inclusion.


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