While many companies in the tech sector are attempting to improve their diversity, a data-based inclusivity method may be the best approach. Collecting demographic data lets businesses measure their diversity and inclusion in the workplace with relevant and accurate metrics. While it’s complex and multifaceted, it can have many benefits.
The Complexity of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
As social perception shifts with time, inclusivity is becoming more necessary for businesses. In fact, firms in the United States spend billions of dollars yearly to educate their workforce on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. While this seems like a good effort, it often doesn’t lead to a genuine change in business practices.
While many think of a diverse workforce as employees of different races or genders, it’s more complex than that. It involves ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, education, disability status and more.
While it can be challenging for businesses to factor in each of these subcategories of identity when collecting data, it can divulge critical insights about them. For example, veterans in the workforce are often disadvantaged, so the process may reveal potential related legal issues since they’re a protected group. Even though it is not traditionally considered a diversity issue, collecting such information identifies possible compliance or social challenges.
Factoring in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Although businesses may not consider equality, diversity and inclusion pressing issues, they often significantly impact consumer perception and employee engagement. In the United States, 68% of professionals in the tech sector are white and around 80% of executives are white males. Many don’t factor such issues into hiring or business practices, but they should.
Equality, diversity and inclusion differ in their workplace applications:
- Equality: Generally, equality implies consistently fair treatment between all people. In the workplace, however, it involves treating employees equally and offering them the same advantages, regardless of demographics or position.
- Diversity: While diversity is complex, it is essentially the presence of individuals from all backgrounds, abilities and identities. In the workplace, it involves hiring and retaining employees without discrimination or bias. This includes integrating groups who are typically disadvantaged.
- Inclusion: Inclusion is a step above diversity because it involves equal access to opportunities and recognition. While a diverse workforce is a good start, engaging and rewarding employees of all backgrounds requires a conscious effort.
They are essential factors every business must consider in its approach to data-based inclusivity because they structure any strategy relating to information collection.
Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter
Although diversity is a prevalent issue, its benefits lie beyond appealing to a consumer base. For example, employees who feel their workplace is inclusive are more likely to dedicate themselves to their work and engage with their teams.
Diversity and inclusion also have legal ramifications due to hiring laws in the United States. For example, data could reveal that a business solely employs a particular demographic, which poorly reflects on their compliance with regulations and labor laws. While they may not be consciously hiring based on race or gender, it reveals an unconscious bias in their process.
Beyond that, inclusivity directly correlates with better business performance. For example, gender-diverse organizations are 25% more likely to increase their profitability significantly than those without diversity. Every tech business can benefit from unique and new approaches.
The Focus on Data Diversity
Although tech companies state they value diversity, most need to do more to implement policies or programs to bring meaningful change to the industry. For example, a 2020 report revealed Facebook increased the number of Black employees by only 0.8% over the course of six years.
Each aspect of business — hiring, employee retention, promotions, pay and engagement — should be considered. While making statements about fostering inclusion is a good start, enacting real change is only possible with a commitment to a strategy.
How to Approach Data-Based Inclusivity
Businesses should approach data-based inclusivity with a solid strategy if they want to get anything meaningful out of it. They must identify how they will gather data, the purpose of collection and possible solutions they can implement.
1. Collect Data
It’s not enough to look at recent trends or similar businesses in the sector to solve diversity problems because each company has its own structure and practices. While working off public data from others may be slightly helpful, it won’t fix core issues. Specific data is more actionable and applicable to the organization’s current state.
There are many ways to collect demographic data from employees. For example, employers could schedule focus groups, send surveys or conduct interviews. It’s also vital to consider nontypical demographic data like education or socioeconomic background. While it may not seem crucial to the overall goal, it can reveal patterns they overlook since it accurately represents the company.
2. Remain Compliant
Every organization is held to a legal standard when collecting sensitive personal information about employees, especially concerning demographic data. It must comply with privacy laws when gathering and storing data to prevent fines or potential social backlash. More specifically, employee participation must be voluntary and all questions must comply with relevant labor laws.
3. Identify Issues
The process and information inform a business if it’s underrepresenting certain groups or excluding them from opportunities, which can be incredibly useful. For example, it could reveal a trend where they only hire from a particular area or promote a specific gender.
It may find that it has no problems with inclusivity, or the data collection results may be surprising and reveal hidden issues. Either way, it should use all that information to its advantage and identify how equality, diversity and inclusion impact business practices.
4. Enact Solutions
After thorough data collection, it’s critical to apply it somehow. For example, a company that lacks diversity in promotions would work to implement changes allowing people of all backgrounds to be considered.
It can focus on efforts for more inclusivity, conscious interventions to improve company culture and programs that assist traditionally disadvantaged groups. While approaches will vary depending on the core issues and demographic results, it’s a good idea to have a strategy in place.
It’s also beneficial to be transparent about the data throughout the process. While revealing information that potentially shows the business lacks diversity might seem daunting, it can be a good show of faith toward employees, consumers and clients. Needing more inclusivity isn’t inherently negative, especially if higher-ups are working to enact change.
5. Measure Progress
While rectifying potential issues is the primary goal for every approach to inclusivity, monitoring progress and impact are equally important. It takes much effort and time to see the results of change, so a business must track if it genuinely improves anything to recognize if it has to try a different approach.
Using Data Diversity to Improve Business Aspects
Data-based inclusivity is complex and time intensive, but it may be worth it to increase employee retention, revenue, public perception and compliance with relevant regulatory bodies. It could improve company culture and invite more unique and innovative thinking styles, benefiting the entire tech industry.