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October 24, 2022

Why Respecting Diversity Data is a Business Essential - And How to Do it

Companies that want to improve on diversity all need to start at the same point; data. However gathering data about diversity can be incredibly challenging.

Why Respecting Diversity Data is a Business Essential - And How to Do it

System-3 was created to establish an objective assessment of Leadership Readiness and to remove barriers to the C-Suite for diverse talent. However, a key challenge for all companies in achieving this goal is first knowing what diversity already exists within their company. Through experience and conversations with multiple stakeholders, we have learned that gathering diversity data is not simple. The best practice is to have employees self-disclose this information. The problem is: employees do not always want to self-disclose. We have heard from some companies that they have as low as a 30% response rate to diversity self-disclosure surveys.  

Disclosure rates depend on a variety of factors, with one key factor being how much employees trust their organization. A study from the UK and Ireland found that employees who believe their organizations have made no progress on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives, were much less likely to disclose their diversity information.  

Our experience collecting this data has been vastly different. Within our Executive Leadership Readiness Assessment, we have over a 90% self-disclosure rate on our comprehensive diversity form. We decided to dive deeper to figure out why such a large number of current and up-and-coming leaders are willing to share this data with us.  

Here are the top reasons why we believe we are achieving this high response rate:

  1. Tiered Consent: We allow people to choose how their data is used and who their data is shared with, giving them the freedom to share in an identifiable or aggregated way or purely for research and bias testing purposes.
  1. Transparency: We provide examples of how their data will be used and what it will look like in their personalized report of their assessment results.
  1. Purpose: We emphasize that our mission and purpose of the assessment and self-disclosure form is to highlight diversity and to further test for bias.
  1. Psychological Safety: We make it clear that we respect sensitive and personal data. We   protect what people feel comfortable sharing and provide options for people to describe their identities in open form.
  1. Accountability: We believe that when companies include third-party organizations like ours, there is a stronger push for action to be taken with the data. We strive to keep organizations accountable in their DE&I initiatives.  

The above is incredibly difficult to accomplish. What is our secret? It is the combination of our commitment to Industrial-Organizational Psychology principles and our incredible advisory committee. The committee has given invaluable guidance to ensure our product accomplishes its core mission: allowing diverse talent to thrive.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to diversity and talent mobility initiatives. These initiatives and the people behind them need to deeply value the humans they are trying to impact, or the initiatives will fail.  

Fortunately, more tools and companies are emerging that can help. If you are interested in learning how we at System-3 advance diversity, please reach out!


Written By:

Alexandria Elms (Sr. Research Associate)

Sam Winer (Product Marketing Manager)