Using Insight to Create Impactful D&I

Kirstie Kelly, 31 May 2016

Embedding and sustaining D&I into organisational culture and practice is hard. Knowing where to start and what to prioritise can be problematic, as can the practical application and operationalisation of truly diverse and inclusive practices.

Based on work with clients, I find there is also difficulty in understanding what to measure, and how best to measure, the impact of any interventions or resulting change.

Unless you can target your approach to incorporate the views and perceptions of all your stakeholders, (senior leadership, HR process leads, line managers, and your employees), organisations will struggle to both achieve the sort of outcomes described by prominent authors on the topic - and to generate the impetus, buy-in and momentum required for sustained change and improvement.

The research

The potential business outcomes of investing in D&I are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. According to Bersin at Deloitte, the top reasons are enhanced employee engagement, increased innovation and agility, and to better meet customer needs.

Whilst organisational motivation for making the investment typically polarises around compliance/risk management vs genuine belief in the business case, business leaders are beginning to have a clearer sense about their motivation - whether the driver for compliance, cultural/ethical or commercial reasons - or a combination.

McKinsey’s research Why Diversity Matters, The Center for Talent Innovation’sInnovation, Diversity and Market Growth and Bersin’s Why Diversity and Inclusion Will Be A Top Priority for 2016,  (all of which I recommend as a great read)  - all strongly advocate and demonstrate the business benefits of truly embracing the wider remit of D&I (see graphic at the bottom of this post).

However, D&I is a broad and complex topic, so understandably the approach for many companies can seem a little ad-hoc, with initiatives geared towards 'surface-level' programmes (based on improving the demographic profile), with less emphasis on deeper-level issues such as culture shift. Write Research’s@Alison Ettridge talks about approaches to comprehensive D&I - beyond inherent diversity - in her post Moving the Diversity Discussion On.

Building the case through data

In The Paradox of Diversity and Inclusion@Anthony Tattersall points out that some HRDs may not be incentivised by the promise of improved revenue as that may not form part of their metrics. They are however, likely to be motivated to invest in D&I from an employee engagement perspective.

I don’t think anybody would argue that HR is disinterested in cultivating an engaged workforce: which is a happy workforce, therefore a productive and effective workforce - and one therefore that will ultimately contribute to improved financial performance. I talked about this is my earlier post Different Strokes for Different Folks .

McKinsey’s Why Diversity Matters report says 

Revenue and market share gains fall squarely in the remit of a CEO, and yet many CEOs see this whole area as an HR issue. HR departments typically have limited budgets and struggle to build a solid business case for real investment.

But what if HR could build the business case, because it was informed by an inclusive approach to obtaining insight from a broad stakeholder community? And what if the business case could be supported because a clear pathway for change and improvement was visible – along with real understanding of the activities that would make most impact?

Insight through Technology

This is where I think technology has a role to play. Analytics has made it possible for us to aggregate data around perception, current, and aspirational performance, into actionable insight. This information can be used to create a prioritised and measureable D&I framework to drive sustained change and improvement.

Technology is also being put to great use elsewhere in driving the D&I agenda. Launchpad is doing a fine job to mitigate discriminatory processes in recruitment, internal mobility and succession through their data-driven platform, Validate.

Line managers, HR, external talent, current and past employees and the CEO all have different ideas about what successful D&I looks like. But irrespective of any dichotomies of opinion, successful D&I has to demonstrate benefits for a whole range of people; not just a business entity, or in a board report, otherwise you’ll engage some people and risk alienating others.

Somewhere between the practical application of technology for everyday HR, and true predictive analytics, there is a place where technology can facilitate D&I by blending people-driven and data-driven insight to facilitate high impact, inclusive D&I strategies.

I would love to hear any views on this and if you are interested in finding out more about what we are doing to help companies transform their approach to D&I please get in touch.

About the author

Kirstie Kelly Diversity and inclusion practice lead

Kirstie Kelly

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