On the third Monday of January each year, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is honored in the U.S. King was an American Baptist minister and activist in the American civil rights movement. At the age of 35, he was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize.

For many, Martin Luther King Jr.’s name is synonymous with his dream of a United States void of segregation and racism. And while his dream has been recognized globally, there is still much work to do to realize it.

I recently sat down with Nigel Dias to discuss how people analytics can support organizations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategy. Dias is the managing director of 3n Strategy as well as the chair and founder of the HR Analytics ThinkTank research. He specializes in supporting businesses to make better HR decisions using people analytics and enabling data-driven HR culture.

Q: How does people analytics help HR to solve diversity problems?

A: What areas of your business have the lowest levels of diversity and inclusion, and how bad is the imbalance? Over the years, which HR decisions have caused and added to that inequality? Do different types of employees get promoted differently? Rewarded differently? Hired and retained faster or slower? If you do not change anything, how much worse will the inequality get? If you want to reduce inequality within five years, what HR strategies are most likely to achieve that goal?

With or without data, organizations are making decisions to try to become fairer and more equal. The purpose of people analytics is to enable organizations to make better people decisions; in this case, about achieving diversity goals and solving inequality. By using HR data to answer questions, people analytics helps organizations to make better decisions increasing the likelihood of achieving diversity outcomes across the entire employee experience.

What types of diversity questions are SAP SuccessFactors customers answering using their data?

In the 2020 Benchmarking study by the HR Analytics ThinkTank, 93% of people analytics functions said they were actively working with diversity data, which is no surprise given DE&I is a priority for most organizations.

These people analytics functions are empowering their HR leaders to solve diversity problems by supplementing HR expertise with answers gleaned directly from data. From day one, people analytics teams can answer descriptive questions, providing facts about what happened in the past and over time. For example, within a particular job family or location, a specific minority group was three times more likely to be promoted than another. Other functions may go one step further, answering questions that diagnose a problem and use data to answer why an outcome has occurred in the past. For example, they might be able to answer why minority groups are more like to resign in particular locations.

The more advanced functions, which research shows take two to three years to build, will create even more value. Some will be asked to spend more time answering critical questions, predicting how the gender equity gap will increase if nothing changes. The most advanced will provide answers to questions by prescribing what should be done; for example, what strategies are most likely to achieve 25% ethnic minority representation at board level within six years.

How are SAP SuccessFactors customers using Workforce Analytics and Report Stories to tackle diversity problems?

The SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics solutions has the functionality to support organizations to tackle their diversity issues.

In order to support strategic decision-making, they use SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics to transform HR data into metrics and dashboards, showing end users the answers to questions about what has happened in the past, displaying insights and trends over time. For example, where is minority representation worsening? In particular grades, job families or geographies is there a difference in the way in which different workers are promoted or hired? Using SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics, HR leaders can create better strategies and track progress over time.

Using report stories, SAP SuccessFactors software can provide anyone in the entire business with a snapshot view of their business area. Stories will allow end users to check an answer at any given moment; for example, whether their recruitment pipeline contains a diverse selection of candidates or if all the resignations in the last month have been women.

What steps can SAP SuccessFactors customers take to prepare for diversity analytics?

The first thing that organizations should do is confirm the objectives that leaders are trying to achieve and identify the questions they need answered to make better choices. In our 2020 study, 94% of SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics leaders said their function was directly sponsored by an HR executive but only 32% were positive that they knew what their leader’s goals were. HR leaders need to clearly articulate what their diversity goals are and establish what questions they would like answered by the people analytics team.

The second thing they should do is audit the foundations for data-driven HR success and prepare for the journey. According to the same study, only 42% of SAP SuccessFactors customers had a plan for what data to capture, only 16% were sure they knew how the people analytics team should be structured, and only six percent were confident that decision-makers understood how to use their insights in decision-making. A lot of diversity questions can be answered on day one using standard SAP SuccessFactors data, but a plan will be required to provide more complex answers over time.

The final tip is to provide answers with evidence to help ensure that decision-makers are empowered to actually use the insight. If given the option, most HR and business professionals will welcome evidence that helps them achieve their goals, but they will only use the evidence if it is easy to access and formatted in a way that makes it easy to use in the context of their job. The organizations most successful with data-driven HR make sure that decision-makers are enabled with the right skills, and their dashboards create the best experience for users to find the answers they are looking for.

To hear more on this topic, register for the upcoming webinar (or listen to the recording), “Solving Diversity Problems using Your SAP SuccessFactors Data” on January 26, or visit the HR Analytics and Workforce Planning area of sap.com.