Data Driven Diversity
By Gemma Hitchens
The Economist’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ conference last week was a great example of how data is forcing companies to think carefully about diversity and inclusion policies because, ultimately, it’s good for business.
Throughout the day, there was a call for more data. More data to show the effectiveness of schemes that are already in place. More research to quantify the opportunity loss that comes with a lack of diversity.
In her keynote address Vivienne Ming, a data scientist and founder of Socos, put it well: “When we add two big numbers we need a paper and a pen – why do we think that the same brain can compute such a large opportunity cost without any help?” In the same way that we’ve moved from written arithmetic to calculators, we need something to help us process these costs and opportunities in order to make fully informed decisions.
Of course it will take time to collect and process data that’s being produced and, unlike gender and age, a lot of the LGBT community aren’t sometimes visible to their own teams, let alone senior managers. Therefore, we need to be clever with the data that we’re sourcing to make sure we’re filling the gaps. A great way to do this is using big data and creating large datasets from which we can pull trends, analyse patterns and draw conclusions. The HR Tech company Gild (where Vivienne Ming used to be Chief Scientist) has collected a dataset – with 122 million professional profiles – that can do just that.
This will be a huge undertaking.
Jim Kim, President of the World Bank Group said that they were pledging to focus on collecting more data on the issue of LGBT equality, like they did with the issues of corruption and gender equality. It’s promising for the growth of these datasets that big players understand the importance of including these groups in research and business decisions. But there is a lot more to collect.
The event served to increase awareness and highlighted the importance of creating a diverse and open environment into which LGBT individuals can enter, thrive and progress.
In the coming months and years we’ll need to be tracking and collecting data about the effectiveness of current policies. This will allow these policies to be iterated and refined to make sure they’re as successful as possible. Shauna Olney, from the ILO, made an impactful statement at the conference: ‘We can win the war on talent by increasing inclusion’.
Put simply, in our very competitive economy it’s unwise to exclude anyone’s talent; and if you do, you’re missing out.
Have a look at the results from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s LGBT survey with our interactive tool here