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Looking to improve your D&I data strategy? Learn from Multiverse’s example

Multiverse is a tech start-up that provides career-focused apprenticeships and develops an outstanding alternative to university for people at all stages of their careers. Their goal is to make apprenticeships easily accessible to everyone and to shape the diverse workforce of the future. But what procedures do they follow to achieve that and what does having a D&I data strategy add to those efforts? We interviewed Siobhan Randell, Multiverse’s Inclusion and Diversity Lead, to learn more.

Siobhan Randell

Make the most of your data. That’s the very first step to a successful diversity and inclusion strategy, says Siobhan.

“If you have diversity initiatives in your organization, that’s fantastic. If you have initiatives but you don’t know the ethnicity of your workforce and you don’t collect this data, then how do you know if any of those diversity initiatives work? How do you even know if you’ve got the right initiatives?” Siobhan asks.

So once you’ve collected the right data, then you’ll know exactly what initiatives to introduce. To make this happen, it’s crucial to understand your business priorities and needs.

D&I data collection

What kind of data does Multiverse collect from apprentices to track the progress of their own D&I business goals? For Multiverse, what’s important is taking an intersectional approach and having a holistic view of both the diversity of their apprentice candidate pool and their own workforce. Here is their typical data list:

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Neurodiversity
  • Disability
  • Education
  • Socio-economic background
  • Dependents and caring responsibilities

“It’s then important to be looking at the data across the apprentice and employee lifecycle,” Siobhan adds. “From the point of application, each stage of the recruitment process and then once hired we’re looking at outcomes like progression and retention.

“For our apprentices there are also educational outcomes like successful completion of their qualification, satisfaction with their programs and many more to ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

Siobhan highlights that sharing this data is optional for everyone:

“People always need the opportunity to be able to say ‘prefer not to say’ that might not be information that they’re comfortable to share with you. But for us, it’s about having a really holistic and intersectional understanding of who our staff and apprentices are so that we can build an inclusive environment and rigorously monitor our processes and systems for areas of improvement.”

The data will not only show you the way to increase diversity in your workforce, but it will also help you understand each person’s needs so that you can build an inclusive culture.

“All of these different things are what make me, me and are what kind of impact how I experienced the world, whether that’s privilege, whether that’s prejudice or whether that’s systemic disadvantage that’s taking place in the different processes and systems that we have across education and the workforce,” says Siobhan.

D&I data contextualization

So if Multiverse’s mission is to democratize access to top careers and lifelong learning how do they treat data such as socio-economic background and education? In this video Siobhan explains how they contextualize data in the application process, through a contextual flagging system and academic out-performer status:

These data contextualization features support young people who are underrepresented in the sectors Multiverse works within or who are facing barriers to employment, by helping recruiters and hiring managers to understand each person’s unique achievements and what challenges they had to overcome to meet their goals in a given context. This approach allows them to recruit apprentices more based on future potential rather than prior attainment.

“We recruit based on five competencies, which include things like grit, resilience, conscientiousness, intent, how much does the individual want it, interpersonal skills, and communication,” explains Siobhan. “By looking at those things, we feel that you can more holistically assess what an individual is going to bring to your company. That’s what really shapes our processes. That’s us.”

D&I data strategy: measuring success

To grasp how successful your D&I actions are and what you need to improve, data will also prove to be life-saving in the process. Here’s what to do:

Set clear goals

For Siobhan, the more precise your goals are, the easier will be to track their progress.

“You need to really pinpoint what you’re trying to achieve,” says Siobhan. “You then need to look at the data. What is your baseline? Set yourself a target. Look at your process. What are the initiatives that you’re going to put in place?”

Once you choose those initiatives, you can test what you think is going to move the needle on that specific target. Siobhan adds:

“You do that for a period of time and then have a look at the data again. What is the data like since the baseline, when you didn’t have those initiatives?”

In short, it’s a process that you have to vigorously monitor and improve over time.

Run frequent surveys

Running internal employee surveys is another way to collect data on how successful and suitable your D&I approach is. For instance, Multiverse conducts bi-annual surveys to measure inclusion:

“We have two kinds of key questions around inclusion, and there are two statements where people can agree and disagree and share their views. One is that I feel included at work and one is that I feel respected at work. So that’s something that we measure over time. We also do pulse surveys that are much more about wellbeing”.

At Multiverse, they also ask apprentices if they have access to the resources they need to do their work and how they could help set them up for success.

“We’ve been really proactively pulse surveying to understand, do people have all of the resources that they need to do their job? Do people have an appropriate working environment so that they can really do their job? And if any of the answers to those questions are no, what can we do to support them?”

Thus, they create a safe and inclusive space for everyone, by taking their individual needs into account. And that’s what inclusion is really about.

Step by step…

Data is critical for Siobhan – and should be for you, too – to ensure that diversity and inclusion initiatives count and really make a difference in a company. This D&I data strategy also gives valuable, tangible information to hiring experts about how they attract young people with their messaging and what they can improve to support all potential candidates going forward. But, Siobhan advises, patience is a virtue here.

“Diversity and inclusion is not an overnight fix. It does take time and it’s very much systems based. So it’s about understanding what your system is and then proactively disrupting any bias that could be taking place at any point in that system. So you kind of need that structured process of reviewing to be able to see whether with the data that you started with, whether that is changing with the initiatives that you are putting in place or not.”

So identify your D&I goals based on your business needs, determine your measurements for progress, and regularly collect data to see how your initiative evolves. The more concrete the goal you set is, the easier it will be for you to monitor it, and tweak your strategy as needed. And remember – take it step by step. Progress takes time, but with commitment, it’ll happen.

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