The growing amount of data on equity, inclusion and diversity (EI&D) can help shine a light on gender imbalances in the workplace and pressure companies to alter their behavior. So said panelists in the first of a two-part webinar series on the role data plays in the journey towards gender equality. The event was organized by IMD in collaboration with exchange operator SIX Group as part of IMD’s overall EI&D strategy.
The case for standardizing data collection
Collecting data and making it public is important if we want to establish trust and accountability, said David Bach, Dean of Innovation and Programs at IMD. The issue is we haven’t agreed on what data should be disclosed.
Just as we use financial metrics to compare the profitability of companies, so there should be a standardized set of indicators – such as the gender pay gap or the distribution of women across the organization – that would create more transparency and allow comparisons across sectors and countries, said Bach.
“They are reductionist by definition, but I think they play a really important role in holding corporations accountable,” he said.
Millennials and Generation Z are increasingly looking beyond the paycheck when they decide to apply for a job. Requiring some kinds of standardized disclosure helps future employees, consumers, and other stakeholders make decisions about where they want to work and spend their money, he added.
Universal measurement systems for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting have shown that these efforts can be initiated by organizations and companies, and not by policymakers, said Bach.
Nonetheless, many organizations are reluctant to publish this data because it doesn’t show them in a good light.
Inside organizations, it makes sense to go deeper and consider not only the hiring and attrition rates of female staff. What happens over the life cycle of an employee and the “micro happenings” can contribute to career success, said Marion Leslie, Head of Financial Information at SIX Group, such as the number of times a female employee presents to the board.
It is worth bearing in mind that there are limits to the data, said Anuradha Seth, Senior Advisor Women’s Economic Empowerment, UN Women, since most collected data only captures women who work in formal employment.
“If you really talking about equity and inclusion, you need to be talking about women at the bottom of the pyramid as well.”