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  • Arjun Paleri

What does your data tell you? Role of data analysis in mapping out DE&I goals

Arjun Paleri, Jaya Ramachandran and Anshu Raj Singh


[This article is the fourth in the series of our articles on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I). The first article gave an overview of DE&I and why it matters; the second article talked about implementation of DE&I and the legal position in India; and the third was on the significance of data to deliver an efficacious DE&I strategy.]

 

Although diversity, equity and inclusion (“DE&I”) are interconnected concepts, they are not the same thing. Diversity has to do with representation, equity means looking at whether opportunities may or may not be fair, and inclusion is the degree to which the contributions, presence, and viewpoints of different groups of individuals are appreciated and incorporated into a setting. The collection of data is a good starting point for preparing an effective DE&I strategy, and the general practice is to begin by collecting baseline data pertaining to the composition of the workforce and the service providers. However, the stumbling block for most organisations seems to be that they are not clear on how to analyse and use this data effectively for impactful purposes. This article looks at the effective ways to analyse and use the DE&I data.


Analysis of DE&I data

Information is usually sought when you are trying to find an answer to a question you have or a solution to a problem you see.


It’s mostly not the case that there is inadequate information or data, but rather a puzzlement over how such information or data can be analysed and interpreted. And to ensure organisations don’t falter at this important juncture, it’s important that even before the data collection process has been initiated, organisations give some thought to why they need this data. Once you are able to identify the purpose for which the data is required, it, in turn, will provide clarity on:

  • what data do you need to collect to answer your question; and

  • from where you can source this data.

Data can narrate tales if analysed correctly and so it maybe be helpful to:

  1. Visualise how the data will be displayed (tables, charts, graphs, etc.) so that they are: - effortless to interpret; and - easily comparable.

  2. Have an analysis checklist on the following lines – - Do you have sufficient information to answer your questions or to draw conclusions? - Is any data missing? - Do you see any trends or patterns emerging? - Do you see any correlations? - Are there any other observations?


Use of DE&I data

If something is not measured, then it is difficult to change it. Therefore, data is relevant in pointing out a problem and garnering attention to it.


Analysing data will help:

  • derive conclusions; and

  • make recommendations to improve identified problem areas

Organisations should ideally publicize its findings and its goals. This increases the chances of success in achieving its goals as it creates accountability and induces change. When publishing the results, there has to be a clear focus on the message the organisation intends to send across, depending on who the audience is-for example, if a low response rate is noticed, then when the results are shared with the employees, the communication should publicize the goals the organisation has set to achieve, and emphasis should be placed on the areas/topics on which there were relatively fewer disclosures. This could lead to a higher response rate when data collection (which is an ongoing process) is undertaken next. When sharing the results with clients, an organisation may want to place emphasis on the areas that show diversity in terms of its personnel and service providers and the steps the organisation is undertaking to address any lack of diversity. The data needs to be contextualised.


Things to consider

In addition to the suggestions made above, mentioned below are a few pointers to be kept in mind while using DE&I data:

  • Presentation of data: Data collected should be publicized only in aggregation, and depending on who the audience is - it should be comparable, simple to understand and contextualised.

  • Set goals: The findings should be used to set goals. Each goal can be broken down further into steps the organisation would take to achieve that particular goals. Organisations should be wary of setting lofty goals that may seem good on paper, but that may become unimplementable and derail the whole process.

  • Using data to empower: The collection and tracking of data just by the HR team or team dedicated to the DE&I initiative does not make the average employees feel connected to this process. Transparency about the findings and the actions the organisation plans to undertake based on these findings can instil a sense of accountability amongst the employees to ensure the success of these initiatives and make them feel they are part of the whole process. Based on the findings, processes could be developed that ensure daily decisions by the management are connected to the DE&I objective of the organisation.

The DE&I policy of an organisation has to be managed and implemented in the same way as other aspects of the organisation’s business for it to be successful. Proper analysis and use of the DE&I data are extremely important for this process.

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