The Solution to Your DE&I Efforts Lies in Your Data

By Suzanne Lucas, The Evil HR Lady, on November 8, 2021

Many people go into HR/employee relations (ER) because they like people and not numbers. But you can’t be a good HR/ER leader without understanding your employee data – everything from tenure to ethnicity to workplace complaints. Understanding these metrics can increase your diversity and inclusion performance. Here’s what you need to know.

How Using Metrics Can Impact Employees

Metrics only benefit your organization and employees if you utilize them. Just knowing that data on pay, hiring, churn and diversity exists doesn’t changebusiness documents on office table with smart phone and laptop computer and graph business with social network diagram and two colleagues discussing data in the background anything. But, if you take time to delve into your metrics, you can target specific areas and develop strategies for improvement.

For instance, if your recruiting metrics show you aren’t getting enough underrepresented candidates, you can change how and where you recruit to identify more diverse candidates. If your turnover rates show different employee populations are quitting faster than others, you can target retention. Knowing this info is the first step.

Where Data/Analytics Help Drive Performance and Career Development

Most companies track basic metrics like turnover and time to hire, but career development is another important metric worth tracking. You can ask questions like: Who has a career path mapped out for them? You may find out that people in certain ethnic groups or those over 40 don’t have their careers mapped out. Who are you moving into rotational programs to learn the inner functioning of the business? Is it just people who look like the bosses? And, very importantly, what happens to those individuals? What is the breakdown of incidents and corrective action as it relates to race, gender and other metrics?

Only with this data will you be able to proactively identify bias and racism, understand root causes and make changes required to ensure a fair and safe environment.  Predictive models, applied to your data, can help you identify areas to act on.

For example, having an expensive training program doesn’t benefit your company if people go through the program and then leave to work for a competitor. Your metrics can tell you this. Perhaps your solution is to put fewer people through the program so they can all move into higher positions upon completion.

Tracking information about employee skills can also be a tremendous benefit to your diversity efforts. Use data to identify if there are staff with skill gaps. Once you know, you can help train and develop them.

Leverage Technology for a Deeper Understanding of the Metrics That Matter

The key takeaway here is that data can tell you more than just "who.” Your data on skills, training, employee complaints and rotational programs can also illuminate "why" and uncover your blind spots. 

When you spot high turnover by analyzing the data, you can investigate and implement a solution. Are people leaving certain managers? Are complaints higher in certain areas? Are minorities leaving at a higher rate? Do those managers need some diversity training? Are they leaving for competitors? Are competitors targeting your employees with higher salaries, better benefits and greater job flexibility?

This is what data can tell you. It’s not just about straight turnover. Is it about understanding the whys and wherefores. It shows if your turnover is voluntary (typically a culture, manager or salary problem) or involuntary (a recruiting problem). By looking at how turnover impacts different groups, you can spot discrimination patterns and fix them.

But data will only provide a complete picture when it’s tracked consistently and completely. ER professionals already have a full plate and do not have the bandwidth to manually track the metrics that matter. Implementing technology helps to automate this process, ensuring that data gathering doesn’t fall through the cracks. And when technology is used to track data, it’s easy to group data to quickly identify trends proactively and share insights with your organization.

Good Metrics Help You Build Your Own Unicorns

If you want to increase your diverse leadership by 20% in the next few years, your data can help you get there. Who do you need to hire today, and what do you need to do to ensure they are ready for the job?

If you hope and pray that you’ll find the right candidate for a senior job – you may be lucky! But chances are, you’ll be better off building your own unicorn – someone who has all the unique skills needed for your business. Not someone else’s.

Whatever your diversity goals are, analyzing the right metrics helps you achieve them. The data is there, and proper systems can help you make sense of it and know what to do.

Suzanne Lucas, The Evil HR Lady
Suzanne Lucas, The Evil HR Lady

Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She's sure not evil. She's super nice! Learn more about her at www.evilhrlady.org and email her directly for decidedly unevil advice.

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