Collecting and Using Data with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – top tips and pitfalls
As we all know, data is at the centre of building and tracking successful Diversity & Inclusion programs. But there can also be pitfalls and challenges. And it’s the same for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). But as ERGs don’t typically ‘own’ the data or data gathering process, what are some of the tips and tricks for collecting data – to ensure it is impactful in supporting your ERG strategy and community?
Why might you want to collect data as an ERG?
Let’s face it, at some stage; you’ll be asked to report on what you’ve achieved as an ERG. Tracking the number of events you’ve had and who turned up or who is on your mailing list is a good start, but what else might you want to capture?
Firstly, you might want to consider whether you gather both quantitative (numbers based), as well as qualitative (typically more free-flow comments or insights). For example:
Perhaps you can track ‘active’ engagement with emails, social media channels, and not just event attendance and numbers on your mailing list. Active might mean who reads, who clicks on items, or who ‘engages’ in any way you can track.
Where your organization struggles to collect data from under-represented groups – or has low declaration levels – your ERG could act as a catalyst to build confidence and trust. Having a larger pool of data over time may also help you use that data to understand the specific challenges your community faces, as smaller sets of data are difficult to anonymise.
What might be some of the pitfalls?
Collecting data is hard – it takes time, effort, and commitment.
Data can tell different stories. Be aware of how you interpret your data. Many ERGs collect data on attendance, but that doesn’t mean all those who attend are in your community. In some cases, those interested in diversity & inclusion may attend multiple ERG events, so they can be double – or triple–counted, inflating numbers and perception of impact.
Data legislation and data ‘norms’ will vary from country to country (as well as between different cultures). Understand what data you can collect formally.
An approach for driving data collection is:
Transparency – Be clear about WHY you are gathering data, how it will be used, and how it aligns with the company’s DEI goals. This will help people understand what the data might be used for and this will start to build trust.
Trust – Building trust with individuals who can be a cheerleader for the process and encourage others to engage and provide data. Attaching a face to any campaign to gather data; for example, a DEI representative or ERG committee member can be more effective at getting responses than a face-less campaign led on behalf of the company/corporate leadership team.
Transformative – Once the survey culture has gained some ground, be clear on the impact the data is having – “we used the survey data to generate x benefit for our employees or to change y policy.” Use small wins to amplify your message in the first instance, changing cultures and processes takes time
Collecting data is an important step for an ERG, but it can also lead to frustration as hurdles appear. So plan your approach to data and think about what you can gather yourselves, where you can align with what the business is already doing and hence help amplify their efforts.
The Impetus Team