Mercer webinar shares effective analytics in DEI strategy

DEI is being driven by social movements and needs to be underpinned by data.

A CHRO SA webinar sponsored by Mercer heard from HR leaders how DEI initiatives are being conceptualised and rolled out in their organisations.

Keletjo Chiloane, a senior associate at Mercer, Lamona Rajah, Cummins’ diversity and inclusion leader, and Julio Ferraz, Old Mutual’s organisational effectiveness executive, shared their experiences with participants.

Keletjo said both in South Africa and globally, more and more organisations are looking to invest in their data, specifically around the analytics that support and drive the diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.

She added that the idea around this is to develop a multi-year strategy that allows organisations to put initiatives in place in order to deliver according to their DEI strategies.

Keletjo said what’s driving today’s DEI conversations are the social movements around systemic racism, gender parity, the global pandemic and economic distress, as well as environmental, social and governance issues.

“Organisations externally say they stand for equality, justice and respect, however, internally they don’t put into place systems that ensure or solve for equality of opportunity, experience and pay for the entire workforce,” she pointed out.

Mercer’s Let’s Get Real About Equality 2020 report has found that 81 percent of organisations globally say they are focused on improving DEI and 42 percent have a multi-year DEI strategy.

Keletjo says this is a concern because it speaks to the misalignment where organisations say they are doing something but their implementation lags behind: “The idea here is for organisations to bridge the ‘say/do’ gap in the diversity, equity and inclusion conversation.”

Ways to bridge the gap
Some of the ways organisations can bridge the say/do gap is through the effective use of analytics, Keletjo said.

“Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Report has revealed that 45 percent have indicated that they are looking to invest in technology (network analytics), 38 percent are planning to improve their pay equity analytics and 31 percent said they already provide pay analytics.”

Keletjo explained these analytics in detail:

Pay equity analytics can conduct analysis using a robust statistical approach, and also has a formalised process for remediating pay inequities, as well as being transparent about pay practices.

Network analysis allows organisations to see the barriers to inclusion that diverse populations may face and understand the ways in which employees connect with one another, the impact of such connections, and critical team dynamics.

Internal labour market: This is how you identify the imbalance of representation of men and women by career level, as well as unwanted differences in talent losses by ethnicity/gender.

Workforce projections: These are models that estimate the composition of your future workforce. They are able to help organisations set DEI targets to see if they are achievable using planned initiatives, and can proactively manage careers of talented women and under-represented employee groups.

Keletjo added that as powerful as data can be, data alone will never be enough to determine the evidence-based approach to DEI strategy. “Organisations need to understand what the employee voice is, how the employees are experiencing the culture and the impact of policies and programmes,” she said.

“They also need to know the workforce data and identify policies, processes and programmes that help engrave that culture you want to see in the organisation and drive it forward, with an understanding that none of this happens without great leadership that supports the DEI conversation and initiatives put in place.”

Perception vs reality
Lamona said people should be really wary of perception vs. reality with their employees and the voices they are collecting. “People are at different stages in their DEI journey and you may not have the kind of buy-in that you need,” she explained.

“As you look at the data it’s very important to see where you need to go back to the drawing board, to perhaps re-communicate the strategy and the need for what you are doing. You may need to go back and re-communicate the common purpose and base it on facts and the results of your research so that you can get more buy-in from people.

“After this you will need to have courageous conversations where people are dragging their feet. Ask yourself if there is a place for them in the organisation and try to meet people where they are, but use that information to see perception versus reality.”

Communication
Julio said that what is important is for organisations to have a very firm stance on DEI and back up the choices they make.

“At Old Mutual we have tried to create a safe container for conversations to happen, be it race or gender, and we have these conversations honestly and openly, and hear different perspectives become fruitful.”

He concluded that the best approach was to start somewhere with DEI, as it is a big pie to bite off and it can be disheartening. “It is also very important to tap into your employee base: they tend to have a lot of ideas and they can solve the DEI challenges in the organisation,” he said.