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Daring HR Leaders Lead the Way in Effecting Real Organizational Change

Daring HR leaders dare to face uncomfortable truths about DEI challenges and chart a path forward. Find out more about this HR superpower.

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Through our stormiest days, effective HR leaders have empathy, courage, strategy, vision, and connection. We highlight one of these superpowers below, and you can learn about the rest in the summary articleTop 5 Superpowers of Effective HR LeadersYou can also discover which superpower is yours by taking this short quiz—don’t forget to share your results on social media after!

There’s a huge difference between chatting about a trending topic that dominates your newsfeed, and actually having an authentic and actionable conversation on that topic that will lead to real change. Yes, we’re referring to “DEI” or diversity, equity, and inclusion. Unlike other hot HR themes like talent acquisition or employee retention, DEI is more difficult to talk about—chalk it up to not wanting to say the wrong thing—but hard conversations can bring about the most positive outcomes, and it takes a daring leader to initiate that spark.


Pitney Bowes’ Mike Salva took the HR Superpowers Quiz and found that his is Daring. Watch this short video (:60) to hear how daring plays a role in his role at work.

Now, the expectation for transparency and real action around DEI policies has never been higher. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the number of companies making their EEOC data public has increased dramatically in the wake of public outrage against social injustices. It’s no longer unusual for a job candidate to inquire about an organization’s representation levels during the interview process. Regulators are also considering new diversity disclosures. 

Prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, many organizations have made bold commitments to place people from underrepresented groups into higher-paying positions. LinkedIn, for example, made a promise in its 2020 diversity report to “double the number of Black and Latino leaders, managers, and senior individual contributors” on its US team within five years. 

Addressing DEI in 2020 and beyond requires a specific type of HR leader—one who would face uncomfortable realities within their own organization, forge a path through uncharted territory, and who was willing to take a stand against racism—even if it was seen as risky in their industry. 

This is why we identified daring as one of the five HR superpowers that carried organizations through the challenges of the past several months. 

What’s a daring HR leader look like?

In 2021 and beyond, shareholders, customers, and employees will continue to judge how committed a company is to making progress by its willingness to report on its own representation levels, while also advocating for and facilitating meaningful change. This means that daring HR leaders will continue to be in strong demand–and why it’s one of the five HR superpowers.

So, what are the top traits of a daring HR leader? They are:

  • Bold and decisive

  • Unafraid to brave new territory

  • Willing to act with the courage of their convictions

Clearly, addressing DEI issues in a way that is consistent with the climate of the current era requires more than good intentions. It takes guts.

Want to know what trait you identify most with? Take our short quiz to find out what makes you a superpowered HR pro!

3 ways people analytics supports daring HR leaders

Around here, we like to say: “People are complex, but your people analytics shouldn’t be.” The upside is that organizations are sitting on a wealth of data that can support DEI action. Daring HR leaders are using this data to—not only report on representation levels—but to shape outcomes. People analytics combines data from HR systems, sales systems, performance systems, and applicant tracking systems—along with real-time market data—to give the best picture of progress and bottlenecks. 

Here are three ways that people analytics supports HR leaders as they dare to move the needle on outcomes:

1. Spot DEI problems, then drive action

Overall representation numbers are a good place to start. But to delve into why there is a diversity problem within the organization, bold HR leaders go further and examine the entire employee lifecycle

For example, an industrial manufacturer used people analytics to discover that as women moved through the hiring process, many were dropped during the interview process. Armed with this insight, they were then able to develop targeted programs to address this specific issue.

Indeed, those who have invested in people analytics can surface DEI insights to help them better attract, develop, and retain diverse employees. This is one major benefit Wayfair experienced from partnering with Visier to help scale its DEI analytics function. 

“For the first time, we could easily tell the full story around outcomes for underrepresented talent at every stage of the employee lifecycle, from hiring through exit,” explains Dylan Mendelson, People Analytics Manager at Wayfair. “This was crucial to understanding what the problems were, why they existed, and how to solve them.”

2. Create a culture of accountability 

Leaders have no issue being public about the sales performance of different teams. HR leaders can do the same with DEI performance—and at a cadence that is foundational to creating a culture of accountability. 

For example, daring HR leaders share data with the same kind of regularity as Finance shares the monthly P&L statement. The right analytics platform makes this possible because it automates all the number crunching. 

This means HR can review—at a higher frequency—progress against workforce representation targets and overall workforce composition with the CEO and other senior leaders. HR leaders can also formally share progress against goals—both good and bad—with all employees. This helps everyone within the organization understand that they have a role in driving change. And change happens when we see numbers in front of our faces, prodding us to take responsibility to accomplish what we want. 

3. Keep raising the DEI bar

HR leaders who use people analytics can stand behind their objectives and put their organization on a steady path to success.

For example, one global organization has leveraged people analytics and a variety of HR tools to increase the representation of women in leadership positions. Though their figures are increasing steadily across the company, the data shows that this is not the case within all business units, group functions, and hierarchical levels. Having this data on-hand enables the organization to continually refine its approach.

But it’s not just about accomplishing yesterday’s targets. How customers, employees, partners, and shareholders define progress is always changing. Successful HR leaders continually set the bar higher when it comes to DEI and strive to accomplish even bigger goals.

Daring HR leaders drive real change backed by solid data

Some organizations struggle with the same age-old DEI issues. Their leaders fund feel-good programs on the basis that everyone else is executing them, or hides representation numbers out of fear of being exposed. 

But daring HR leaders do things differently. They tackle the root causes of problems. They share data to drive accountability and build trust. And they never settle for good intentions—they get results. With the power of data, HR leaders can generate real momentum and drive lasting, meaningful change.

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