This is a really interesting piece from HBR that encourages organisations grappling with, particularly, ethnic diversity challenges to look at data beyond their own organisations – i.e. data coming out of peer/competitor organisations, their industry and their sectors more broadly. The point is that, given the under-representation of these groups in individual companies, data from e.g. individual organisational engagement surveys might not, in fact, be that representative. A bigger sample would help. Or, as fantastically summed up in the article: “If only there were more of you, we could tell you why there are so few of you.”
We often speak to clients who say they struggle to attract or promote people from underrepresented groups and want to better understand why. We then conduct research amongst both these groups and their ‘represented’ colleagues and very often discover that, relatively speaking, the former perceive themselves more negatively than the latter. They are less confident about their prospects with their employers. We report back and, from that, ‘initiatives’ are often born. Absolutely nothing wrong with initiatives, particularly if they don’t exist in isolation of each other but are knitted together into a strategy. Just think, though, how much more impactful they could be if grounded in a combination of feedback from their own organisations and insight from the much bigger picture of diversity data generally (qualitative as well as quantitative) – and the many nuances to be found therein…
It’s a lengthy piece so you might want to save it until coffee break time, but well worth the read.
Also keep an eye out for TMP's take on diversity across a range of talent related subjects throughout 2018.
A colleague, who served as a lead on diversity at a tech company, broke it down like this: “When we do our employee surveys, the Latinos always say they are happy. But I’m Latino, and I know that we are often hesitant to rock the boat...we’ll say what you want to hear.... I also know that those aggregated numbers where there are enough of us to be significant don’t reflect the heterogeneity in our community. Someone who is light-skinned and grew up in Latin America in an upper-middle-class family probably is very happy and comfortable indeed. Someone who is darker-skinned and grew up working-class in America is probably not feeling that same sense of belonging...”