Using People Analytics to Drive Diversity

The concept of People Analytics is becoming increasingly popular and is set to gain momentum in 2018 as an important area for driving business improvements. But could it also be the answer to finally solving the problem of improving workplace diversity and inclusion?

What do we mean by People Analytics?

People Analytics, HR Analytics, HR Intelligence, HR Insights, and Talent Analytics can all broadly be defined as the collection and analysis of human resource/employee data to reveal business insights, which in turn inform business strategy and drive performance.

While the benefits of People Analytics may have initially been narrowly focused on employee engagement, there is now substantial evidence of the insights it provides for driving business processes in recruitment, selection, performance measurement, compensation and employee retention. Cisco, for example, found People Analytics to have a significant impact on recruitment; with the analysis of internal and external data enabling improvements in the identification and attraction of candidates. And Google’s ‘Project Aristotle’ used People Analytics to determine the key to team success and building the perfect team, while the Bank of America responded to its People Analytics by implementing shared lunch breaks in call centres where staff retention was an issue.  This promoted interaction and inclusion, which consequently reduced turnover.

So, do these evident improvements in recruitment, selection, retention and team development suggest that People Analytics could be the answer to improving workplace diversity and inclusion? We all know the benefits of diversity and inclusion although, up to now, they’ve been difficult to achieve in business. But People Analytics has the potential to provide insight into the disparities that exist between groups and to act as a means to increase diversity and build inclusion.

What would this actually look like?

Let’s begin with attraction. Attracting a diverse pool of candidates is the first step towards achieving a truly diverse workforce. People Analytics can help to identify high performing employees from minority backgrounds, and then use the available data to identify how they were attracted in the first place. Then, greater focus can be placed on this particular attraction strategy or mechanism.

And what about diversity within selection? By analysing data at the point of selection, organisations can understand which groups are not performing as well and identify the exact point at which this happens. Then attention can be focussed on improving fairness at this particular stage, thus enabling the recruitment of a more diverse workforce.

People Analytics can also reveal differences in promotion rates, compensation, perceptions and satisfaction between diverse groups of employees, and then help to ensure these are addressed. At Whirlpool, People Analytics has not only shed light on how to retain employee talent but it has also helped to stem attrition rates. Although achieving success in the attraction of diverse talent, the company seemed unable to retain them, and lacked insight about the true cost of losing this talent.  The manager-employee relationship is essential to retaining valuable employees but Whirlpool’s managers didn’t know enough about their direct reports’ career aspirations, development needs and other important engagement factors such as feeling valued and being properly recognised. The company set up a pilot program to help identify risks to retention and address gaps in managers’ knowledge, with specific emphasis on generating a more open dialogue with employees.  They also put in place plans for employee support, recognition and development. The results speak for themselves – the number of women leaving the organisation from within the pilot program was 12% lower than those in the rest of the organisation and 14% lower for underrepresented minorities.

At Work Psychology Group (WPG), we are excited about the benefits People Analytics can bring in the area of diversity.  We are currently working with a range of clients to explore People Analytics solutions to drive business improvements and make proactive, strategic decisions in areas such as selection, team development, and diversity and inclusion.

Do you think that People Analytics could help to enhance performance in your organisation? It would be great to hear from you, so please click here to get in touch.