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Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.

The goal of Visier’s Research Program is to use collaboration and partnership to answer exciting questions and support groundbreaking research about today’s workplaces. By giving researchers from other organizations access to our industry-leading dataset of over 12 million anonymized employee records, the Visier Research Program makes it possible for partners to answer questions that otherwise would have been out of reach.

In this interview, we speak to Miles Steininger, Principal, R&D Enablement and IP, and Stephanie Finkenwirth, a Senior Data Scientist, on Visier’s Data Science team about the program and how it benefits both corporate and academic partners. 

What is the Visier Research Program? 

Stephanie Finkenworth: The Visier Research Program enables customers and academics to access our unique dataset in anonymized form, in order to answer current research questions from within the people analytics space. 

Ideally, interested parties come to the program with a specific question, hypothesis, or draft of their general idea. This allows us to evaluate the feasibility of answering their question with our data. 

Miles Steininger: Through the program, we and past academic partners have looked into the current state of and trends in workplaces, including deeper dives into diversity, such as with our recent Visier Insights ReportTM: Racial and Ethnic Career Gap Reveals Magnitude of Equity Challenge.

What’s the main advantage of collaborating with Visier on research? 

Miles: The main advantage is the ability to work with Visier Community data (previously the Visier Insights database).  The vast size of our dataset allows researchers to do things they simply can’t with only their organization’s data.

Our dataset comprises at least 12 million employee records from over 8000 organizations, and captures organizations as they actually are—rather than as they report to be in surveys. 

Overall, entering the Visier Research Program is high in benefits. There is no financial cost to academic partners, as Visier partners with funding bodies like MITACS. We designed the system for publication and want to see you and your students succeed. For commercial partners, no money changes hands which simplifies the deal. 

Depending on your goals, you will be able to test and validate your machine learning models with data from outside your own organizations, or explore state and trends in workplaces in general—all with the ultimate goal of publishing the results. 

Our research program doesn’t just benefit academics.  For our customers, there is the added benefit of getting to know their Visier People data better.  For our partners, they get to demonstrate their mastery of people analytics and establish themselves as leaders in their field.

How do researchers apply for the program?  

Miles: There are a few steps. First, interested researchers should reach out to us directly at [email protected].  We will share a presentation on the program to give entrants a solid understanding of what it involves. 

Participants who want to continue will be asked for a proposal—this can take the form of a few paragraphs on the questions you would like to answer. If needed, we will help clarify the questions to ensure we can answer them satisfactorily, and then move forward to setting up a project with the appropriate scope, schedule, and team.  

“The Visier Research Program is a great pathway to engage with the real-time real clients’ real employee data in real time. Diversity in the workplace, equal hiring and career growth opportunities, ethnicity and gender pay gap–these are persistent social issues that stay on social scientists’ radar. I used the Visier program to examine whether ethnic and gender statuses are connected to the base pay and whether this connection is a common occurrence or a rare exception in the corporate labour force.”

– Alexandra Bozheva, Analyst at the Statistical Geomatics Centre at Statistics Canada and past academic researcher with the Visier Research program 

What’s the process like for teams after their proposal is approved, at the research and publishing stages of the process?

Miles: We support our research partners throughout the discussion, research, and publications processes. 

Partners have the opportunity to ask questions of us, rather than of the data. The goal is to help researchers understand what questions are and are not possible to answer with the Visier Insights database. While often, this boils down to privacy and confidentiality, there may also be variables we don’t have, or don’t have enough data on to make available. 

For both academic and corporate partners, we always aim to publish the results of the research, unless there is a mutual agreement otherwise. This involves securing the branding and acknowledgements rights, as well as a quick manuscript review. 

Our reports have been picked up both by journalists at major media outlets such as NBC and the New York Times, and by niche publications within the HR industry. One notable aspect of these reports is their longevity—reports from 2017 and 2018 are still being cited today, in 2021. 

Stephanie: While we support our fellow researchers throughout the program, it’s important to note that we won’t be directly assisting in the research itself. In addition to enthusiasm for your project, the Visier team provides initial onboarding, coaching for participating researchers about our infrastructure and data, and support through the publication stages.

Can you share a bit about Visier’s upcoming report on inequity in BIPOC pay and career gaps? 

Stephanie: The Visier Insights ReportTM: Racial and Ethnic Career Gap Reveals Magnitude of Equity Challenge focused on a subset of 400,000 U.S. employees from the years 2017 to 2020 across 44 enterprise organizations. 

We looked at measures like headcount, and compensation, including aggregate pay and mean salary. The data was grouped and segmented according to time, EEOC racial and ethnic categories, and managerial status. 

The findings were alarming. The data showed the pay gap between underrepresented groups and white employees could take more than 25 years to close. The situation is even worse for black workers—according to the report, Black employees won’t see pay equity for 78 years should their compensation continue rising at the same rate of progress. We also found that underrepresented groups face a significant Manager Divide—a clear sign of unfair access to career opportunities. 

By revealing such a large racial and ethnic gap across workplaces, the report underscores just how much effort is needed to achieve equality. We encourage all employers to read the report and then, check out this interview with DEI speaker and author, Lenora Billings-Harris, on actionable steps to take to close these gaps faster.

Research with Visier

Visier is always looking to collaborate with academic and corporate researchers interested in answering their people analytics questions with our dataset. Please reach out to [email protected] with proposals or questions about the program. 

About the Author

People-centered ideas and insights by the editorial team at Visier.

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