Companies miss a huge opportunity for consequential progress toward increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) if they neglect to use data-led analytics that generate deep insights into their organizational cultures, according to a study released by Genpact, a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation.
The research, Tech for Progress 360: Taking diversity, equity, and inclusion from ambition to reality, gathers insights from 510 senior executives from large global enterprises across industries. The study finds that the senior executives whose companies have embedded diversity, equity, and inclusion into their business – the inclusion front runners – are better positioned to take advantage of their companies’ recent technology investments and changing workplace models.
Over the past couple of years, the pandemic and racial protests have focused organizations’ attention on DEI. Nearly all executives surveyed (95%) say that their companies accelerated their digital technology rollout in response to the pandemic. In a similar vein, the pandemic forced companies to embrace remote working, which respondents say had a net-positive impact on progressing their companies’ DEI goals. While remote work also increased the responsibilities and the possibility of burnout for women in particular, companies have an opportunity to build on the positive elements as they settle into a hybrid-work environment.
Despite the advantages from technology and new working models, many companies still struggle to make progress on DEI but can learn from those that are further ahead. Genpact’s study finds that inclusion front runners use their capabilities with data and insights to get to the bottom of the complex cultural elements that are core to fully embedding DEI across all activities, decisions, and objectives. These organizations are:
- Evolving company culture: Half of inclusion frontrunners use data-led insights to understand their company cultures and find opportunities to evolve them, compared to only 28% of other respondents. Without this cultural insight, DEI initiatives will not deliver profound change within an organization.
- Nurturing networks: Inclusion front runners also understand that the makeup of people’s networks is a key indicator of how diverse or inclusive their organization is. These executives are much more interested in assessing the strength of employees’ professional networks – the people employees connect with regularly and infrequently – 51% of leaders analyze these insights vs. 35% of other respondents.
The report underscores the power that technology can have to provide transparency and insights on issues critical to DEI. At the same time, the study sounds a striking alarm if companies fail to harness their data and analytics, and identifies how many businesses still struggle on actionable steps to:
- Recruit and retain: When looking at the career life cycle of people from underrepresented communities, only 40% of all executives say their companies use data and insights to improve their ability to recruit and retain these groups – and a mere 25% do so to promote and train them.
- Reduce bias: Technology and data are strong tools to reduce bias in decision making but only 40% of all respondents say their companies use technology this way.
These findings suggest that more businesses would benefit from using data-led insights to embed DEI at all levels of their organizations, and to look beyond the surface layer of diversity-related data, like reporting on the number of employees from underserved communities.
For example, by measuring employee behavior — people’s interactions and other forms of communication — and organizational metrics, like promotion and turnover rates, companies can gain a deeper, more realistic picture of their DEI achievements and where they need to act to make a material difference. For example, they can go from simply tracking new hires to gaining insight on who’s involved in projects, who’s making decisions, and which groups are represented in meetings.
Analyzing relevant data from an enterprise’s vast volumes of emails, instant messaging, and meeting invitations, etc. can demonstrate where representation has become a reality at each level of the firm. When organizations can also trace employees’ career journeys to compare experiences and how access to the company’s leaders and networking opportunities varies, they can make decisions based on a realistic view of the company culture and progress toward building a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive business.
“Access to the learning, mentorship, networks, and training that help people grow should be distributed equally, but often it’s not,” said Heather White, chief legal officer and global leader of DEI, Genpact. “Some groups still find it more challenging than others. Combining a change in mindset with analytics and digital solutions can unlock greater equity.”
Conducted in partnership with FORTUNE Brand Studio, the report is the final in a three-part series, Tech for Progress 360, analyzing how companies are using technology to drive impact beyond the bottom line. The research examines how businesses are working toward three distinct objectives: enhancing the employee experience; delivering environmental sustainability; and achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion.