The Power of Diversity Metrics

At Livingston James Group, we are members of the Employers Network for Equity and Inclusion (ENEI). ENEI is a UK-based, not-for-profit organisation that helps employers build and maintain diverse teams and inclusive cultures through their membership, training, and consultancy services. Being a member of this organisation has allowed Livingston James to review its strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion, set up a DE&I steering group, and review our business processes and culture to ensure we are creating an environment that fosters equality and acceptance for all.

The membership provides access to a range of training materials and events, and Consultant, Rachel Sim, recently attended “Decoding DEI – The Power of Diversity Metrics with Zara Nanu”, hosted by ENEI. Zara Nanu MBE, is an expert in developing diverse and inclusive work environments through the use of data and analytics. Zara specialises in analysing pay and gender data to influence positive organisational change.

Whilst organisations are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities to create fair and inclusive workplaces, sometimes good intention is halted by lack of understanding or knowledge of how to implement inclusive practices. Zara Nanu broke down the key stages that organisations should go through to start to measure and analyse their organisational DEI landscape.

Livingston James Consultant, Rachel Sim, shares some of the key takeaways and her thoughts on organisational DEI strategy.


Using Data to Create a More Inclusive Work Environment

Data is key to developing an understanding of an organisation’s current makeup. This is more than just routine data collection, it demands a strategic, engaging approach to fostering an inclusive workplace where every voice matters. Organisations can begin by collecting demographic data such as gender, race, ethnicity and age; however, data should only be collected with a relevant and informative purpose in mind. Collecting data which will not be used can be an infringement on employees’ privacy. Employers need their employees’ permission to keep certain types of ‘sensitive’ data (including race, ethnicity, religion and political membership), and must comply with privacy regulations that prioritise anonymity and encourage honest responses. Anonymous feedback can provide a safe space for employees to share their thoughts openly.

Securing high disclosure rates is no overnight achievement, and this becomes challenging if your sample size (number of employees) is too low. To encourage a higher uptake and disclosure rate, organisations should be clear on their intentions and reasons for collecting the data, and how it will be used and stored, to create more trust with employees. Securing high disclosure rates can be a longer process, and organisations may have to run a number of exercises before they secure high levels of participation. However, this can be encouraged with each attempt at data collection by demonstrating the impact the process has had previously and the positive actions that have been taken based on data analysis.

Once collected, data should be analysed to identify patterns and disparities within the organisation; comparing demographic data across different levels, departments and teams. This analysis can unveil potential areas of concern such as underrepresentation of certain groups in leadership roles or disparities in pay and promotion rates.

Organisations should regularly track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to DEI initiatives such as retention rates, promotion rates and employee engagement scores. This ongoing assessment allows organisations to measure the effectiveness of their initiatives over time and make data-driven adjustments to their DEI strategy. This will allow organisations to measure progress and identify areas for improvement; ultimately building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

Internal employee data is the priority for analysis; however, once this has been actioned, organisations can also consider their wider stakeholders and supply chain to ensure consistent, positive action and impact out with their internal teams. Extending your initiatives to wider stakeholders creates a knock-on effect and an increased feeling of responsibility.


The Benefits of Creating a more Inclusive Workplace

A number of well-known organisations have made progressive moves in recent times such as making equity and representation metrics central to boardroom discussions, instead of focusing solely on commercial and financial output. The result of focusing on inputs rather than outputs has had admirable results on organisations’ DE&I, and subsequently, an increase in profits. This is due to the proven increase in employee retention rates, increased market share, boosted innovation and productivity, increased employee satisfaction, and a bolstered organisational profile: all of which improve the bottom line.


Creating a Diverse Leadership Team

A diverse leadership team does not mean that everyone on the Board must display different demographics, but rather that your leadership team should be representative of your company, clients, customers and locality as a whole. If an organisation’s leadership team does not represent these demographics, organisations should be questioning why this is and putting in place succession plans which will nurture the next generation of leaders to be more representative. For example, the ‘motherhood penalty’ refers to females in their early 30s who take maternity leave and then on return to work find a stagnation in their career and lack of support in reintegration to the workplace, or are overlooked for promotion.

Identifying demographics of people who are disadvantaged and underrepresented in leadership allows organisations to create targeted programmes and initiatives. Strategies for developing your next generation of leaders include creating pathways and opportunities, and most importantly, having open conversations with your teams to understand who does (and does not) have the ambition to be in a leadership position, along with their reasons behind this. Understanding the reasons why certain demographics are or aren’t interested in moving into leadership positions will be key to rectifying any organisational culture issues which may be deterring people.


Who is Responsible

Organisations should be putting in place a Governance Board responsible for the DEI strategy. The Board should ensure accuracy and privacy, and prevent bias, as well as develop strategies based on the outcomes of data collection and analysis. Company Governance Boards should have a minimum of three people and must be those already in the know, such as a Finance Manager who already has access to employee personal information including their salaries. Involving others on the Board may expose them to sensitive colleague information. This team has a responsibility to strive towards creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.


Conclusion

Whilst training and discussion of these topics are important, ultimately it is the data and action that will result in the most progress and impact for an organisation. Organisations must treat DE&I initiatives with sensitivity, balancing transparency and privacy.

In 2024, the Livingston James Group steering committee has plans to not only develop our internal DE&I strategy, but also further support our clients to work towards their DE&I goals and targets. We will continue to:

  • Utilise our membership with ENEI, and in particular the TIDE evaluating tool, to improve our DE&I practices, reporting back to our Board with priorities for 2024
  • Build out our candidate pool diversity data, which we can share with clients on relevant assignments
  • Include diversity information and statements on client position profiles and adverts, share insights and guidance with our network, and do all we can to promote best practice recruitment activities
  • Increase our activity in attending relevant events and webinars, developing our internal knowledge and confidence to support our candidates and clients through their DE&I queries and strategies respectively
  • Strengthen our partnership with ICAS, and in particular their DE&I team, as well as other membership organisations to develop a community with shared DE&I goals

Many thanks again to Zara Nanu MBE & ENEI for a hugely informative session.

For more information about Livingston James’ DE&I strategy and recruiting diverse talent, please contact [email protected]. For information about ENEI and future DE&I events, visit their website.

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