Why Data and Analytics Provide the Best Insight Into DE&I

By Suzanne Lucas, The Evil HR Lady, on April 21, 2021

In order to get a full picture of the diversity of your organization, there are many aspects that must be analyzed. HR needs to take a look at who makes up the applicant pool, whether recruiters are targeting specific races in their recruiting efforts, and whether that’s being done intentionally or not. You also need to take a look at the diversity of your employees and dive deeper into their performance to determine if there are any notable differences. Turnover is another key factor to study to identify if it's consistent across groups or if there is one group of employees who is more likely to leave or be terminated.

Proper analytics are key for efficiently and accurately illustrating the full story. Humans are terrible at estimating and evaluating probability.  And when numbers start to go up, we often believe the number change is more critical than it is. You may hire one Black person and feel that you’ve made real strides toward diversity, but adding one person of color doesn't mean your company is now diverse. 

Real numbers are essential in general life, but they can be extra important when making diversity and inclusion decisions.

How HR can use data to make DE&I decisions

What percentage of your workforce is Hispanic? Unless you have a tiny business, you probably don’t know. Sure, if there are 25 employees, you can count on your fingers, but if you have 100 employees, it’s doubtful you can do it.

This data should be stored in your HR information system (HRIS). If you have to submit Affirmative Action Plans, it’s undoubtedly there. So, you can just run a report and look up the racial makeup of your employees. Easy and done.

But, that pie chart--no matter what it looks like--isn’t helping you achieve workplace inclusion and equity. For that, you need to dig a little bit deeper. Here are the data metrics that can help you make better decisions.

  • Candidate pool. If your candidate pool doesn’t represent the available population, you know you need to change how and where you recruit. Are you advertising in a variety of places? Do you recruit through multiple alumni groups or only those from specific colleges? Are you relying too much on referrals from current employees? People tend to refer people who look and think like themselves.
  • Pay. It’s not enough to have a beautiful pie chart; you need to look at pay. How is salary distributed across different groups of people such as racial groups, genders and ages? For example, is there a statistical difference in pay between races for people in the same pay bands? Get that fixed right away.
  • Promotions. Who is getting promoted? Do you see differences? If so, it’s time to implement some programs and mentoring to give people the equal opportunity to earn those promotions. 
  • Turnover. Who is leaving and why? If your turnover is high overall, that indicates you need to make significant changes. But, if some groups are leaving at a higher rate than others, it may be an inclusion issue. Reach out to former employees and ask why they left. Make changes. What should you change?

The possibilities are endless if you take a look at your data and act on it. Digging in after you look at the numbers makes the most significant difference. If you just say, “Our turnover for non-white employees is too high. Now, what shall we order for lunch?” your workplace won’t change for the better.

Why data and analytics are important for communicating DE&I information in a meaningful way

Numbers are like magic. “We need more diverse staff representation!” sounds like a vague and unattainable goal. Whatever you accomplish, there is always the ethereal “more.” Use more concrete language such as, “Currently, our front line staff is 68 percent white and 32 percent minorities, but in this region, minorities make up 45 percent of the population. What can we do to extend our recruiting efforts to match the surrounding population?”

This not only gives you a clear goal, but it suggests what you can do about it--extend your recruiting efforts.

With regard to compensation, if you’re looking at pay differences, and trying to convince the leadership that some pay raises are in order, don’t only use your company’s data--bring in outside data about competitors, the cost of turnover, and some court cases to show what happens if one of your employees sues for racial discrimination. This can get people really paying attention.

If you need a tool to track and analyze data, check out HR Acuity’s robust analytics and reporting offering. HR Acuity’s solution helps drive DE&I by providing you with analytics that enables you to discover patterns, identify trends, and proactively manage the next steps. When you have insight into data, it can be used to support change and make everyone feel needed and included.

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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