How to apply analytics to D&I people strategies to drive organisational change

Bringing advanced insight and analytics capability to bear on diversity, equity and inclusion people decisions is crucial to driving lasting and effective organisational change.

About 70% of organisational change programmes fail to meet their objectives according to McKinsey research carried out a few years ago. The percentage is even less when it comes to diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives.

To make the most of D&I organisational change, professionals need to understand that building a diverse workforce is only part of the equation. Large-scale D&I organisational change is more likely to stick if D&I professionals apply equal discipline and rigour to the hard and soft elements that matter.

Ahead of his talk at the upcoming DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit in San Francisco, March 26, Dr. Don Trahan, Director of REDI, NeighborWorks America, discusses the dangers of not using data, analytics and the principles of change management as guiding factors to drive inclusive organisational change.

Organisational change management

“Real change will only come when metrics are used to transform the workplace into an inclusive environment,” says Trahan.

“For D&I professionals to succeed, they need to have a holistic understanding of their organisation, and how it influences employees and the customers it serves.

“It is about truly being sensitive to using qualitative and quantitative metrics. And, being able to look at predictive factors to inform any sort of strategic plan and organisational change. There is a sense that some organisations want to rush ahead and bypass vital steps.”

The fundamental steps to effective organisational change are:

  • Capture the right data – qualitative and quantitative metrics and predictive factors
  • Understand existing baselines
  • Identify defined metrics that align with business goals
  • Use change management to shape internal practices

Trahan’s advice to D&I professionals wanting to imbed meaning full organisational change is: “Be proactive and know what the data is telling you about your company structure, recruitment, retention, the marketplace, how it serves its customers and what disparities exist.

“Look at the existing ‘climate’, understand the business case for the work you do and do your due diligence to ensure you have the support to accomplish your goals.”


Trahan adds: “Know your company’s desired outcome and make sure you have AIIR: accountability, the infrastructure, incentives and the necessary resources to guide the work. This is the foundation to organisational change and change management, which takes time.”

The impact of not using data, analytics and the principles of change management to drive diversity, equity and inclusion organisational change is significant, says Trahan. “We will continue to see a decline in retention, recruitment and customer loyalty due to negative press. This, in turn, makes it difficult for organisations to meet their fiscal responsibilities or desires.”

Trahan adds: “Inclusive organisational change can bring many business benefits but one area, some have been slow to respond to is flexible working.

“This is one of the most profound areas of interest in the work-life balance argument that without the correct policies in place will continuously lead to a decline or lack of recruitment in employees from diverse backgrounds.”

On why it is taking organisations a long time to change, Trahan believes it is due to “a lack of understanding of their current climate. It is common practice for businesses to do a climate assessment every few years. The challenge is that in the absence of continual self-assessments, you are guiding your business practices based on dated information and are being reactive rather than proactive. This results in a disconnect, both internally and externally, as the environment continues to evolve.”

Hear more from Dr. Don Trahan by joining him at the DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit in San Francisco on March 26, or subscribe to the DiversityQ newsletter for further updates.  

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