DAta Analysis Case Study

When a company decides to respond to a lack of diversity in their teams (managerial, operational, executive), the next best step is often some careful research and analysis to document how current patterns came to be. Only then can policy and managerial interventions be thoughtfully designed to move the company forward.

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why no people of color at the top?

After 3 years as the HR business partner within a manufacturing unit at a large consumer products company, John was questioning whether women and people of color were rising in the ranks at the same rate as white men, given the predominance of the latter in the top management group of the division. There were many  factors to consider, and all were discussed anecdotally, but not understanding the root of the issue, it was difficult for John and his central HR team to determine what to do to move forward. Was it hiring patterns? Promotion rates? Job assignments? Evaluation processes? Where to apply a fix? And, how to build confidence in a plan so as to win the resources necessary to implement it?

Through a colleague referral, John connected with The Impact Seat. Together, we outlined a research project that could give some answers. A first step was to assess what data the company held, and what might still need to be collected. Then we considered the timeline that mattered: we choose 10 years. Finally, we discussed and decided on the research question – what were the relative promotion rates for men and women, by ethnicity, within the four job levels, over ten years?

Using a robust scientific process, The Impact Seat was able to turn around John’s inquiry within 6 weeks. We confirmed that there was an historical story: Caucasian men at the top had a significantly longer tenure at the company, but we also discovered that women of color held a key to the puzzle as well  – they were both less likely to receive a first promotion to level 2 than their peers, and they were most likely to exit the company within the first 2 years of arriving.

These findings formed the basis of a conversation in HR and then with the unit managers. The company exit surveys were prioritized and adjusted to get better data. Annual evaluation records were scrutinized for signs of conscious and unconscious bias. As a remedy, existing line manager training efforts were enhanced with diversity and inclusion ideas. Progress is being assessed with a dashboard to track for changes around the key study finding measures.