With PwC at the wheel, 300-some CEOs banded together in 2017 to form The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. A year prior, PwC exec Tim Ryan had opened up the floor for “firmwide conversations about race in the workplace” and those conversations led to creation of the coalition. Especially given racial justice conversations following George Floyd’s murder, race in the workplace continues to be top of mind. 

In 2021, leaders in retail, healthcare, power and energy, freight delivery, law, food and more continue to join The CEO Action — Shannon Schuyler, action co-leader and PwC chief purpose and inclusion officer, told HR Dive in an email that participation is at nearly 2,000 CEOs. Meanwhile, the firm continues to create programming around diversity and inclusion. Moderated by journalist Kat Chow, well-known for the NPR race podcast Code Switch, the coalition’s 2021 conversation series covers a host of D&I issues. 

This summer, leaders came together to discuss DEI, data collection and the marriage of the two. Following this conversation, Schuyler offered HR Dive key takeaways about how to make the most of data in the DEI space.

Data should build a “culture of belonging”

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From Schuyler’s perspective, data can be used to drive inclusion in the workplace. “For decades, many evaluated the success of their diversity efforts through programs meant to train women and racially and ethnically diverse employees to be successful,” Schuyler said. “The outcomes, however, were often focused on evaluating satisfaction in attending these programs and monitoring turnover, but did not dig into the real issues that inhibit equitable experiences and truly build a culture of belonging.”

Through technology, HR pros can look into every facet of the people experience, she said, including systems, processes, and communications. What’s critical, she added, is reading in between the lines of data for “the human experience.” This is what can help create “a broader culture of belonging and equity,” Schuyler said. 

Data measures accountability

“Reinforcing that, as leaders, we hold ourselves accountable for progress and that we must lean on data to better understand what is working and what is not working is paramount. Through this kind of monitoring, which in some cases should happen even daily, immediate interventions can be taken to drive tangible outcomes,” Schuyler said.

Transparency is everything

Schuyler also said she believes that transparency with employees should be part and parcel of the data collection process. “For business leaders it’s incredibly important not just to properly gather the data, but to also communicate why you’re collecting data with your people,” she explained. “So that they understand your motivations and what you plan to do with the information.”

That should also include making survey results and responses available to employees across the board. “Taking the extra step to publish this data externally often reflects a company’s commitment to change its makeup and accelerate progress,” she said. 

Still, she added, acting on the information gathered is a “complex” progress. While there may be no singular answer on how to do so, the consensus from the virtual workshop is that DEI data should not be an HR team’s destination. “It’s the first step in driving real, sustainable change across an organization,” Schuyler said

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