Challenges 

The confluence of three factors–the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and an economy negatively impacting women and minorities–generated the need for a heightened sense of action to improve diversity and inclusion at this organization. In fact, the CEO’s number one request from the people analytics team is for diversity and inclusion metrics and analysis. 

They have been dedicated since their inception to raising quality of life for all. This includes continuing work on their public pledge to achieve gender equality by 2030. The organization has also committed to matching its employee populations in terms of gender and ethnic diversity to the areas they have locations and the people they ultimately serve. 

Operating in over 50 countries, they recognize they must have different diversity improvement strategies across their global locations. With limited resources, the organization has chosen to first establish goals for improvement in the top ten countries where they have operations. 

They are doing benchmarking in their locations to establish and meet these goals. With gender, their goal is 50/50 by 2030. However, mirroring the ethnicity of their workforce to the communities they serve is more complicated. For example, in the mid-west U.S., the ethnic demographic mix is less diverse. 

Approach

This organization has an internal program dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion. Under this program and using Visier as their people analytics platform, they did a talent refresh strategy, forecasting out to 2030 to determine what it would take to achieve their goals. Their analytics and strategy are nuanced, digging into how long it will take to reach gender parity in, for example, director and above levels, as well as predicted rates for hitting their ethnic goals for these roles. 

“We used Visier to help us build out a model of what are the sub-levers within that progression,” explains their Head of People Analytics. “For us, it’s about bringing in diverse candidates or promoting people into those roles. We use Visier as one way to help us get a sense of where that’s happening.”

“I think Visier gets you really far in insights and predictions, and expedites the process significantly for most organizations that don’t have an analytical function for HR.”

– Head of People Analytics

Visier is used to keep track, in real-time, of the predicted rates for hires, promotions, and retention among gender and ethnicity groups. The people analytics team compares these rates, directing leaders to any opportunities or problem areas. 

Measuring employee life cycle processes

They use Visier to answer questions along the employee lifecycle processes of attract, develop, and retain:

Attract

Visier People: Talent Acquisition helps them track the diversity of their hiring pipeline. They’re able to show proof that women move through the recruiting process to hire, but that they need to bring more women into the pipeline in the first place. Through these kinds of insights, the organization has addressed any unconscious bias issues with hiring managers and made sure they improved external recruiting of females and minorities. 

Develop

People analytics enables the team to monitor promotion rates to see if women and men are getting equitable ratings, the right development opportunities, and going through the right programs. They also have an ecosystem that they measure to ensure that movement and internal fills are occurring. Additionally, they pay close attention to diversity ratios in their succession plans.

They want diverse people to be able to see diverse leaders and believe they have a growth opportunity. They also know that leaders of the same ethnicity tend to create more innovative organizations. In locations where they have larger pockets of ethnic diversity, their strategy is to grow their talent. However, where it is difficult to hire a diverse senior leader with experience locally, they will seek to bring diverse talent in from different parts of the country.

Retain

To determine the drivers of retention, the team measures attrition and looks at engagement, belonging, and inclusion metrics. They do an annual survey that is released to managers as long as there are at least five responses. Leaders are then held accountable for improving engagement scores. Further, they conduct sentiment analysis.

Adjusting to uncertainty

Their 2030 talent refresh strategy revealed the explicit hire, promotion, and attrition rates needed to achieve their D&I goals. They have since conducted an 18-month version of this plan to answer how–based on the composition of the organization today–their goals and progression should be divided up over the next 10 years in order to hit their overall goals. 

Given 2020’s shaky economy, the organization is less focused on hiring at the moment. “The power is in improving promotion and retention rates,” says their Head of People Analytics. 

The forecasting needed for this 18-month outlook uses modeling tools like Visier to extract information by custom business units and their corporate functions. They explore a manager’s historical run rates across key levels that matter, such as female promotion rates, attrition rates of diverse groups, and more. 

Using people data to drive better business operations

Because they have good data infrastructure, a culture that desires data-driven answers, and power users of Visier, they have been able to shift from simply processing data requests to being more proactive about improving diversity. 

Explains their Head of People Analytics: “Rather than telling leaders what percentage of diverse candidates came through the pipeline, we now say, here’s what we need to do to actually improve that.”

Further, with this data and Visier, the people analytics team and Chief Diversity Officer can show HR and business leaders their status against goals. Ongoing, the team sustains analysis on areas of improvement for each organization, while diversity leaders walk business leaders through results to ensure progress is being made on a periodic basis.

In terms of actions to be taken, they give freedom to these leaders to set their own paths to achieving the set goals for their teams. One group may have a low attrition rate of female employees and another higher and thus, their paths will look different. One may need to key in on retention, while the other with already low attrition, may focus on driving development plans for mid-level manager women or minorities. 

Results

“Historically, we’ve seen a good uptick in terms of the diversity of our hires, specifically for gender,” says their Head of People Analytics. “Where we’ve seen the most progression is for mid-level managers. Year over year, it continues to progress in terms of the percentage of women that we’re bringing into the organization.”

The actions they have taken and the early results they’ve achieved are laudable. At the end of 2019, the workforce was 24.3% female and 23.1% of leadership positions were held by women. On the Board of Directors, four out of the 12 members are women. They have also signed several pledges and shared these publicly to stay accountable for their D&I promises. 

Providing resources to drive inclusivity, growth, and change

There are eight employee resource groups which reflect the diversity of their workforce. Each group has a steering committee and local chapters across the U.S. and their Women’s Employee Network is active around the globe. These eight groups created 40,000 touchpoints for employees with career development programs, talent recruiting efforts, awareness and education events and charitable and community outreach activities. 

They also launched Inclusion Networks in a dozen manufacturing plants and sales offices, which sponsor a range of events to address issues throughout the year, greatly multiplying the reach of the employee resource groups. 

Last and not least, they encourage tough conversations on controversial topics. During these difficult times when employees may have feelings of loneliness, fear and distress, the diversity and inclusion team created a dialogue group focused on these conversations. These are sessions that provide an outlet for employees to have open conversations about difficult topics. More than 4,000 employees in a dozen countries participated, discussing issues such as race, gender, and mental illness.