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Why Diversity Matters in Leading the Way in Data Analytics

Diversity was once seen as a “nice to have” and now it’s a must for any innovative, data-driven organisation.

When companies implement diversity, it positively impacts their bottom line. In a 2020 McKinsey report, it noted companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014.

Data analytics can be used to manage a brand’s diversity efforts as they would any other department. Siri Chilazi and Iris Bohnet at the Harvard Business Review said organisations need to manage diversity in exactly the same rigorous and data-driven way they manage the rest of their business.

They said, “Achieving diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) objectives require no more and no less than the use of the same planning, feedback, and accountability processes that are deployed to reach targets in sales, product development, and budgeting. Data drives targeted action and creates accountability in these domains, and so it should in DEI as well.”

In this article CEO and chairman of Sisense, Amir Orad, answers some key questions about why championing diversity is essential, and the actions innovative companies such as those working in the business intelligence and data analytics sectors need to take to create a diverse culture.

Why is it important to advocate for diversity? 

Diversity has many dimensions, and implementing it within your data analytics organisation opens doors for people from various backgrounds. If you want to create more diversity within your workplace, the first thing business leaders need to do is to advocate for it.

Sisense is part of the founding co-signers on a major initiative led by Insight Partners, where not only do they require the CEO to take a pledge for a more diverse world, but they’re committing to only investing money in companies that are willing to be measured by the level of diversity and improvement they have over time.

Diverse teams, diverse companies and divers cultures are stronger. There’s endless research that shows diversity of the mind, opinion and the way people see things differently from different backgrounds makes a more solid team. While it can be challenging to manage, there’s a much better outcome for the world as a whole.

What activities can businesses undertake to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion?

Embrace diversity from the top down

The stronger your team is, the stronger you are. Spend every possible ounce of energy making sure you have the best people and the best team around you. Make sure they’re diverse. Make sure they think differently.

Allow them and encourage them to push back and tell you you’re making a mistake. There is value in admitting mistakes. The most successful executives surround themselves with people who think differently. It’s a very important lesson.

Hire ‘diverse’ people

Hiring today is different because we are now aware of the unconscious biases we all hold. At the end of the day, the best person will be hired to fill the job, but if you don’t start off with a diverse pool of talent, you’re going to miss out on some amazing people.

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Sisense uses non-traditional avenues to make sure they are exposed to as much diverse talent as possible. Recruit with the intent of creating a workforce that is as diverse as the population you serve.

Be mindful of salary bands and unconscious biases Create a salary band for each position, as it makes a huge impact on reducing the unconscious biases we all hold.

People with different backgrounds deal with systemic biases in many of our internal processes. When it comes to promotions, merit and salaries, having defined salary bands will ensure unconscious bias plays no part in determining compensation.

Regardless of your qualifications, as a candidate, you can rest assured you will receive a salary based on the role, and not because of how you identify. As a CEO, obtain merit reports, promotion reports, and benchmarking reports that look at underrepresented communities, to ensure there aren’t any inconsistencies.

Acknowledge your employees

Make sure your employees know you see them. Show your support by acknowledging the obstacles they face daily and work with them to create an environment where they can be their authentic and whole selves.

Encourage your employees to create employee-led resource group events throughout the year. Attend those events to show your support and continue to educate yourselves on important issues.

Between the #MeToo movement and the continued systemic racial issues that reached a boiling point in 2020, we must keep up with, and learn to adapt to, our constantly changing society and all the waves of pain that go along with it. Addressing the tragedies and injustice that affect our employees is not easy, but one of the most important things you can do is show up.

Empower your team

While the CEO’s job is centred around defining the strategy, vision, and the North Star, the most important role of a CEO is to build and empower the right team to align with the vision and core values of the company. Talent is a brand’s number one asset and building a team you can lean on and trust is vital to an organisation.

Also key for a CEO is to build and maintain the company’s culture and values. As an executive, you are a role model to many, you must lead by example, and exemplify qualities that demonstrate fairness, dedication, kindness, openness and passion. The behaviour you model inspires every employee throughout the company.

Strengthen work culture

To nurture diversity within the business, there needs to be a strong work culture. Businesses can’t suddenly initiate and create a fantastic work culture and then move on. It never ends.

One initiative Sisense used during COVID-19 to maintain their work culture was to offer employees “self-care” days, which was a day off each month dedicated for employees to take time to themselves, recharge, be with their families or sleep in– whatever they needed for that day was up to them.

The key was (and still is) that the self-care day is mandatory, they insist everyone take the day off together and make it legitimate to be away from zoom and email. The feedback they received from employees was that they felt supported and seen during a difficult time. 

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