Since the #BlackLivesMatter campaign went viral in 2013, the subsequent groundswell of information shared online highlighted that racial inequality continued to reside across society. Many tech companies responded quickly by releasing equality and diversity statements, spearheaded by tech giants Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Apple. The resulting reports were not a cause for celebration. The contents shone a spotlight on the overwhelming white and Asian male biases. The reporting did however galvanise the industry into action. Action to create a culturally richer, more diverse workforce in tech, IT and Data.However, despite movement in the right direction over the past eight years, we still have a long way to go until true diversity and inclusion is reached within the industry, and the pandemic has played a significant role in the regression of progress. Take women in data as an example. While Harnham’s UK Data & Analytics D&I report 2020 shows a steady increase in women in tech over the past decade, our UK Salary Guide 2021 reports a decline in women in tech from 30 per cent to 28 per cent this year.BUT WHY IS DIVERSITY IN THE SECTOR SO IMPORTANT?In 2015, McKinsey published research showing that gender-diverse companies were more likely to financially outperform their homogenous competitors by 15 per cent, while ethnically diverse companies were more likely to outperform by 35 per cent. A follow-up report in 2017 established the correlation between profitability and value creation in gender diverse executive teams. The evidence for cultivating a diverse workforce is compelling and 75 per cent of business leaders identify that D&I is both of value and a priority for their organisation. Just this year, Sky announced via Twitter that they have appointed seven D&I leaders to their Diversity Advisory Council to guide the business. They are investing £30m in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce over the next three years, to deliver a measurable impact on both business and society.So how can data help meet D&I goals? DATA IS INTEGRAL TO ORGANISATIONS MEETING THEIR D&I GOALSA recent Intel report found that a majority of Gen Z would be hesitant to take a job from a company that does not have diverse representation within their senior leadership and a nationwide poll carried out by the Institute of Coding found that more than half 16–18-year-olds believe that the digital workforce lacks diversity. The industry is facing a potential skills gap crisis and needs to act now by using data insights to inspire the next generation.ROBUST DATA LEADS TO BETTER DECISION MAKING It is easier, and more effective, to make decisions with a clear understanding of the starting point. Data can provide baseline evidence from which to plan D&I initiatives and work towards inclusivity goals.WHAT TYPE OF DATA INSIGHTS TO GATHER FROM YOUR WORKFORCE?Having a data driven approach into the diversity of your workforce that goes beyond the simple hiring numbers is the key to setting progress markers and measuring the effective ness of your D&I initiatives. Progressive teams will consider gathering and monitoring D&I data as part of their ongoing business strategy: · Total workforce composition against leadership composition· Compensation and compensation history across demographic groups · Hiring and promotions across all departments · Internal mobility by demographic group · Leavers by demographic group · Access to and usage of benefits · Diversity in hiring v diversity in recruiting HOW TO GATHER D&I DATA FROM YOUR WORKFORCE Employees will want to be reassured that their data is being given for useful purposes, and some will be sceptical about giving it away freely. Ensure you work with your team to highlight the benefits of your data collection and reassure them on data privacy.· Explain reasons why data is being collected · Be transparent in your data requests · Allow anonymity in data gathering · Give options to ‘not specify’ in any survey data · Feedback data insights to your whole workforce to insure inclusivity · Be clear in your follow-up initiatives towards meeting your D&I USING DATA INSIGHTS TO MEASURE THE JOURNEY TO D&I GOALSData insights will enable stories of success to be shared both in the boardroom and at the water cooler, evolving a culture of positivity throughout the organisation. Regular, robust data-capture as part of your business’s strategy will enable you and your team to see progress, instilling them with the confidence to set progressive goals year on year, driving D&I data metrics in the right direction. A D&I strategy will enable businesses to be more innovative, make better decisions, improve staff engagement, and deliver better results. A good strategy requires meaningful data –data gives business the power to act.