How to Bridge Hiring and Wage Gaps with DEI Analytics

In recent years, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a red-hot topic among employers and human resources professionals who plan and manage these initiatives. The tumultuous past few years have reshaped perceptions about when, where and how we work. Meanwhile, ongoing social unrest is challenging organizations everywhere to more deeply consider how their policies, practices, values and norms affect people from all walks of life. As a result, interest in DEI analytics is skyrocketing.

With diversity initiatives on the rise, employers recognize they must have the ability to measure progress. Currently, DEI programs are underway at an estimated 80% of U.S. companies. And although the business world is seeing some improvement, there’s still a long way to go.

For instance, organizations that don’t prioritize a culture of inclusion continue to put their brand at risk. Some have already faced serious public backlash — not to mention costly legal ramifications from discriminatory hiring, compensation, and management practices. In short, no matter where your organization is on the DEI investment spectrum, access to relevant analytics is essential.

Defining DEI Analytics

Every organization can benefit from knowing if employees are experiencing unfair or inequitable treatment. DEI analytics tools and processes add value by converting HR data into actionable insights about related issues. For example, these tools can help you:

  • Develop metrics to detect decision-making bias, unequal access, unfair treatment, and discrimination based on gender, race, disability, religion and/or sexual orientation.
  • Analyze data patterns to discover where employees face opportunity barriers. In other words, you can compare staff development and mobility statistics across groups with different traits and compensation levels, independent of individual performance or other factors.
  • Track and compare key DEI indicators to determine if your workforce is representative of the labor market in your industry.

Together, these capabilities make it possible to identify and resolve specific DEI issues and also evaluate your organization’s performance over time.

The Value of DEI Analytics

As Jeff Higgins, CEO of HCMI says, “Leveraging diversity data to empower decisions or action is perennially easy to say but hard to do.” True. Developing a coherent, reliable dashboard can be a complex process. But organizations can no longer afford to get by with hunches or incomplete data. Too much is at stake.

There are many other reasons to embrace DEI analytics. Here are three examples:

  • Data-based analytics reports make it possible to enforce discrimination laws in Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. By protecting fundamental civil rights, employers play a vital role in preserving our society.
  • For organizations that want a talent acquisition edge, DEI intelligence is highly beneficial. Younger generations expect workplace equality. And inclusive cultures attract top talent. If candidates think your employee base lacks diversity or your track record in advancing underrepresented groups is weak, they might conclude that you’re out of touch. But data that highlights DEI strength can prove that you stand by your values.
  • Improving diversity policies and practices can directly boost your bottom line. In today’s business world, investors see greater value in companies with strong environmental, social, and corporate governance propositions. And the most effective, efficient way to benchmark these policies and track improvement over time is with DEI analytics.

How DEI Misconceptions Hinder Analytics

Several fallacies in the HR community sometimes keep businesses from implementing DEI analytics initiatives. The primary misunderstanding is that DEI policies enforce “hiring quotas” and place a premium on race or gender, rather than candidate quality.

On the contrary — proper diversity plans ensure that hiring and advancement opportunities for underrepresented groups are proportionate to the pool of available candidates. Combined with appropriate employee selection and promotion assessments, organizations can have confidence that they’re making these decisions with a high degree of fairness and equity.

Bottom-Line DEI Statistics

For employers who want to measure DEI performance, countless metrics are available. For example, “pulse” surveys are a popular way to calibrate employee sentiment about belonging and inclusion. What matters most when choosing baseline metrics is that they accurately reflect the state of equity and inclusion across your workforce.

Below are three measures that can help ensure that you are prioritizing DEI in an effective and legally compliant way. Once these metrics confirm that you’ve reached parity with comparable organizations, you can move on to more advanced and nuanced options such as pulse surveys.

1. Recruitment

When setting DEI goals, it’s important to consider representation in your talent pipeline, relative to the labor market at-large. A great way to apply DEI analytics in recruitment is to measure whether your efforts actually reflect the qualified labor market in your area.

For example, if 20% of your local population includes qualified African-American candidates, then you would expect about 20% of your company’s candidates to be African American. However, if you’re hiring for remote roles, your labor market could be nationwide or even global.

2. Hiring and Promotion

Simply hiring diverse candidates is not enough. To truly address diversity representation, you’ll want to ensure that women and people of color are distributed throughout all levels of your workforce.

A common mistake employers make when trying to boost diversity representation is to ignore where women and people of color are located in their organizational structure. It might be easier to achieve broad representation goals when women and people of color dominate your lowest ranks. But for DEI success, all tiers of your organizational structure should reflect the available labor market.

3. Compensation and Pay Equity

It’s also important to know if employees in similar roles are being compensated equally, after considering relevant factors such as time on the job and overall performance. For example, in the U.S., women earn about 20% less than men, on average. But employers are increasingly addressing disparities like this with pay equity initiatives. In other words, all employees performing the same type of work at the same level in an organization receive the same compensation, after relevant pay practice factors are considered.

The right metrics can help you ensure that all employees are paid fairly. While discrimination in the workplace continues to remain a significant issue, today’s biases are largely unintentional. If you don’t track DEI metrics properly, you may not even be aware that implicit discrimination like unequal pay is an ongoing issue.

A Final Note on DEI Analytics

Advancing DEI initiatives is simply the right thing to do. But organizations can no longer leave inclusion to chance. The best way to ensure that you’re on track is to make decisions based on hard data and accurate analysis. As the old adage goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

By including DEI metrics in recruiting and compensation discussions, your company can maintain modern business standards while gradually becoming more diverse and inclusive. Along the way, you can make better-informed decisions that will keep existing employees happy, engaged, and committed to fairness and inclusion.

How to Design a More People-Centered Organization

Sponsored by Performica

In today’s world of work, it’s easy to find two very different types of people — self-promoting “squeaky wheels” whose voices are often the loudest, as well as those who quietly deliver without much recognition. Both bring something to the table. Still, leaders often judge an employee’s value based primarily on their visibility. This kind of bias is a critical reason why it’s important to build a people-centered organization.

But what can leaders do to better understand everyone’s true contributions? And how can they use these insights to develop more engaged, productive teams?

This issue matters, not only now, but for the future of work. That’s why I want to dig deeper with an HR tech innovator and entrepreneur who understands what it takes to design a more productive, people-first work culture.

Meet Our Guest: Alex Furman

Please join me in welcoming Alex Furman, CEO and Co-Founder at Performica, a people analytics platform provider. Previously, Alex co-founded Invitae, where he was responsible for growing the company’s collaborative culture of innovation at scale.

His first-hand experience as a senior business leader with technology expertise makes Alex an ideal guest for this discussion. Join us as we explore how you can leverage technology to build a more equitable and effective work environment…

Designing a More People-Centered Organization

Welcome, Alex! How do you define a people-centered approach to organizational design?

For a truly human-centric organization, we need to understand how people actually operate in the context of getting work done. Historically, we haven’t done that. We’ve thought in terms of org charts, business units, profit centers, and vertical silos.

But people are our greatest asset. And they’re social. The dynamic, cross-functional way people actually work doesn’t show up on org charts.

So to optimize people as an asset, we need to make sure everyone is seen, heard, valued, supported. That means moving away from analyzing org chart boxes and looking through the lens of humans working together.

Finding Hidden Influencers
You say teams rely heavily on “stealth influencers.” Could you tell us more?

As the head of people at a rapidly growing tech company in 2014, I wanted to see who was actually working together in real time. So I asked our engineers to connect our internal systems and create an org graph.

Soon it was clear that we had been over-celebrating those who were good at promoting themselves. Meanwhile, we were under-recognizing quieter “non-leaders” who were actually stronger influencers.

It was humbling. But that was the beginning of a solution to an important problem in the corporate world.

Tech’s Role in a People-Centered Organization

How can technology help leaders build a more people-centered organization?

We all know people are a company’s biggest asset. At most companies, 75-85% of expenses involve things like payroll, office space, travel and entertainment.

But people are also our biggest liability. We see this when cultures go sour and top performers start leaving. It becomes hard to attract talent and this can cripple a company.

But truly knowing your people and how they work is like a superpower. For example, one of our customers is going through significant change management. In this company of 1000 people, we identified only 24 people who are driving about 50% of employee sentiment and engagement.

So we’ve worked with senior management to target their interventions through that group of influential people. Now we’re seeing a massive and very measurable positive effect.

For more insights from Alex about how you can build a more people-centered organization, listen to this full podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Also, to continue this conversation on social media anytime, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Photo: Miguel A. Amutio

#WorkTrends: Acing the Metrics: Reading the Data on Engagement

Sometimes a #WorkTrends episode answers a trending question so clearly it’s as if we never have to ask the question again. That’s what happened when Meghan M. Biro sat down with Leila Zayed of Best Companies Group to talk about measuring engagement. The January 31, 2020, #WorkTrends podcast quickly went from whether or not we should measure engagement to the best strategies and benchmarks for understanding your workforce like never before. 

Leila works with companies of all shapes, sizes and industries to survey their employees on engagement, and pointed out that you can’t tell if your employees are engaged if you don’t know what engagement is — and once you know what it is, you can’t find out if you’ve got it if you don’t know how to take measurements. Engagement, Meghan and Leila agreed, has to do with not only being satisfied with your employer, but really looking forward to going to work — with having a sense of meaning, purpose, and pride. “They feel you’ve created an environment where they can do their best, they’re willing to give extra efforts to see you succeed, and they plan on staying a while,” Leila added. Another sign of engagement they both agreed on: employees will recommend your brand to a loved one.

Meghan noted that Leila’s approach — measuring two sets of demographics — made far more sense than an all-in-one-bucket approach. Personal demographics include our individual identities and perspectives; workplace demographics are out of employees’ control, like department, brand and locations. The question came up about whether small companies can survey engagement effectively: “Talk to us about how this approach can work for organizations of any size,” Meghan said. 

Actually, Leila offered, it can, even with a company of 15 employees. 

Whatever the size, she said, the key is going outside your own company to compare yourself to other companies in the industry — or you won’t really know how you’re doing. And the more companies doing these engagement surveys, the more data we’re getting, and the more specific the benchmarks get. 

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why aren’t we better at measuring engagement? #WorkTrends
Q2: What measurements work for assessing engagement? #WorkTrends
Q3: What strategies can help organizations better measure engagement? #WorkTrends

Find Leila Zayed on Linkedin and Twitter

#WorkTrends: The Power of People Data

“People analytics” is a term that gets a lot of people (myself included!) very excited. But the idea of people analytics isn’t exactly new anymore. So the question now is, how are we using people data to uncover important insights and then actually act on them?

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking to a people-analytics pro, Kate Hastings, senior director of insights at LinkedIn, about how HR is using people data to eliminate bias, close the gender gap and drive better outcomes.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.


Welcoming the Age of People Analytics

Hastings says that just seeing job descriptions about people analytics is exciting. Her background is in management consulting, and she remembers the first time she saw the term, in a job description at Gartner. “Not many people get inspired by job descriptions, but it talked about using an organization’s data to make better people decisions and how important that was to the overall corporate strategy and bottom line,” she says.

“I was so inspired, because I felt like this was an underused opportunity for analytics.” She knew she could bring her analytical mindset to make an impact on issues she cared about — making work a great experience, helping people be more productive and making organizations more successful through people.

But she admits that she hadn’t often thought about “data” and “HR” in the same sentence: “When I had worked with HR in the past, that hadn’t been the most data-driven part of the organization, and I felt like there was really an opportunity to bring that data mindset and make better decisions for everyone.”

The real draw of people analytics is making more fair, consistent decisions about people at work, she says: “It feels like we’re all on the same page.” In other words, math evens the playing field.

Using Data to Address Big Challenges

Big challenges like diversity, the gender gap and bias in hiring are on leaders’ minds, and Hastings says people analytics can help. “In a recent LinkedIn survey, we asked recruiting leaders about the trends they’re most interested in, and diversity was number one. People are really thinking about how we can make our organizations stronger.”

She says the first step is quantifying the problem. For example, she says, “we’ve always known there was an issue in terms of the gender gap in leadership, and the big step forward is that we’re able to quantify it. That’s allowing us to do all kinds of things toward solving it. We’re nowhere near solving it yet, but we have a sense of how large the problem is and we understand some of the opportunities.” She points to metrics about what happens when an organization has more gender balance and diversity: There’s a positive correlation to better performance. Once we can quantify both the problem and the potential outcome of making major change, we can start to build programs to get us there.

The Next Phase: Breaking Down Silos

Hastings has seen a change happening in HR over the past 15 years. HR has followed the lead of other functions, like marketing, to pay closer attention to collecting and studying data and making more informed decisions.

But we still have a long way to go. She points to a recent Deloitte study that shows only 8 percent of companies feel like they have usable data about talent.

“I think the next frontier is breaking down silos,” she says. Instead of thinking about a very compartmentalized set of activities (“First we recruit you, then we onboard you, then we make sure your rewards are what they should be and then we train you”), she hopes HR can think about the entire end-to-end journey.

Part of breaking down those silos is working across functions. “McKinsey has been talking about how the CHRO and the CFO and the CEO need to work together as a group of three to really think about how to implement change in their organizations, and I love the idea of people-first organizations working in that way,” she says.

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

Four Essential Best Practices for HR in 2016

Welcome to 2016! Although it’s already March, it’s not too late to cover a few best practices for human resources professionals, as well as how to analyze information about your current employees and help develop strong teams, once people are on board. So, without further ado, here are four best practices for HR professionals for the new year.

Diversity & Innovation

A recent Forbes article by Adam Hartung points out the importance of diversity and the need for HR to make a concerted effort to recruit outside the company—if only to gain a new and different perspective of the usual order of business. Innovation only comes as a result of change, and change is not possible without somebody being willing to rock the proverbial boat. In other words, you need to be willing to take a risk and hire someone from outside the inner sanctum, so to speak, to have the chance to gain knowledge and insight from someone with a different perspective.

Also, never underestimate the value of empathy and emotional intelligence, in relating to colleagues, job candidates, and new employees. You’ll need to base your hiring decisions on more than just skills, qualifications, and experience. As Gabrielle Garon emphasizes in a recent TalentCulture article, your expertise as an HR professional should include the ability to relate to employees as people, rather than merely team members or experts in their field. Relating to employees as people requires the capacity to look beyond what’s on paper and initial impressions, and to ask the right questions

HR, IT, & Data Analytics

The Talent Analytics blog provides a very helpful Beginners Guide to Predictive Workforce Analytics, which clearly lays out the essential components of data analytics for HR, arguing that “Predictive workforce projects need to address and predict business outcomes, not HR outcomes.” Hence a focus on the big picture and efficiency, as opposed to abstract factors.

Rather than trying to determine the best employee traits at your company based on your current workforce, for example, first determine what it is you need to accomplish with each upcoming project, as well as what traits are required in the people chosen to carry out that task. From there, you can more quickly determine the best ideal candidates for a given project. In this way, you’re focusing on the business at hand, rather than abstract predictors of success. Also, though, make sure to pay attention to the potential for turnover, retention, risk, and talent when looking for viable candidates.

Research & Development, Training

The best HR practices include keeping an eye on how to train existing employees internally and dedicate a substantial part of the company budget to research and development. This means hiring workers who can act as skill trainers and instructional leaders. Moreover, finding the best people to utilize as trainers means being able to identify desirable traits and talents desired in company trainers, and then to successfully recognize those qualities in both internal and external candidates for the position.

It’s crucial to focus on individual talents during the search for company training candidates, so as to match skilled leaders with an interest in and a talent for teaching to the position. Making sure that the trainers you pick are born teachers, rather than experienced project managers or product developers, can help avoid future frustration and lack of productivity. As a hiring manager, you can help ensure job satisfaction by using a talent assessment tool as part of the interview process, as well as making sure to focus on employee strengths and incorporate them into their duties.

Quality Recruitment

If you want to reach out to the best people, all while giving a nod to the first strategy discussed in this article (innovation), it pays to utilize the best sites out there. One effective method involves recruiting talent that isn’t necessarily applying with you for a position—for example, via LinkedIn. This is also known as finding ‘passivejob candidates, and it involves strategies such as networking, focusing on growth and satisfaction in job descriptions, and communicate with recruits as people, rather than potential job candidates.

In a recent article on the biggest trends of 2015, Meghan Biro estimates that nearly 80 percent of job seekers utilize social media in their job searches—and, furthermore, younger generations are estimated to use social media 90 percent of the time! Advertising job positions on a platform like Twitter, for example, will open up the field of applicants even further by making it accessible to a much wider, public audience. This can also help with the innovation component since it’s more likely that external applicants from outside the fold will apply for a position as opposed to merely internal candidates. Moreover, as Biro also points out, social media recruitment can be extremely profitable.

What’s the bottom line, then? Emotional intelligence and holistic, long-term thinking rule the day. Don’t be afraid of data, but at the same time, don’t allow facts and figures to be the sole determining factors in the decision-making process. In other words, think with your heart as well as your head. Here’s to a unique and successful 2016!

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