How to avoid ‘super artificial’ D&I outcomes

Cross-pollinating data sets could have a “profound effect” on the effectiveness of diversity & inclusion outcomes, says one expert

How to avoid ‘super artificial’ D&I outcomes

While technology such as AI is having an impact on diversity & inclusion outcomes by removing bias from hiring decisions, experts predict the biggest breakthroughs will come from a more sophisticated use of HR data to hone and enhance their D&I initiatives.

The next step in HR’s data evolution is to ‘cross-pollinate’ data-sets from different areas of the business, in much the same way marketing and finance teams have been doing for some time. Thomas Hedegaard Rasmussen, GM people analytics, insights & experience at NAB, told HRD that this capability is still in its infancy for HR but it could have a “profound effect” on D&I outcomes.

“There’s no straight line from diversity to better performance or more innovation, as there are other factors that have an influence, such as how inclusive your organisation’s leaders are,” said Hedegaard Rasmussen.

However, he added that the data models are getting more sophisticated so the correlations are becoming easier to identify.

“You can look at gender or age or ethnicity, one variable at a time, but it’s super artificial because that’s not what the real world is like. Modern organisations will look at each of these at data components combined, and will also have data sub-groupings within various organisational teams, and so on,” said Hedegaard Rasmussen.

Tom Shields, vice president of Workday Asia Pacific, confirmed to HRD at a recent Workday diversity & inclusion roundtable discussion that organisations are now making more informed HR decisions thanks to data, and this is slowly extending into the D&I space.

“We’re seeing D&I move away from being something you must do – a tick the box formality – to having data that allows the leadership team to see the make-up of their organisation in terms of gender, ethnicity, and so on. The next step is what you do with that data in terms of decision-making,” Shields said.

To help on that front, Workday has utilised a diversity dashboard internally for some time and this dashboard is now available to clients. The dashboard helps leaders to see at a glance all relevant D&I data in one place, and to slice and dice that data however it is required.  

“The dashboard helps leaders clearly see what they’re measuring so they can then potentially track progress and adjust D&I initiatives based on real-time data,” Shields said. “We also have more clients signing up to data as a service, where they can anonymize the data and benchmark themselves against other companies.”

Despite the exciting future for big data’s impact on often neglected areas within HR’s mandate, a word of warning about D&I data was voiced by Jason Laufer, senior director, talent and learning solutions at LinkedIn. Laufer said that the outcomes from data-led initiatives will only be as good as the data put in.

“Data in D&I is dependent on people identifying themselves within a particular group,” Laufer said.

“When it comes to areas like LGBTI or religion it becomes trickier as it’s more difficult for people to self-select into a particular group or sub-group. Part of HR’s role is to ensure they are creating an environment where it’s ok for people to self-select; that people feel safe in doing so. From there, you can roll out D&I initiatives that you know are going to resonate with the individuals you have in your organisation.”





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