Experian is a global company, dealing in data – so it’s no surprise that data is crucial to our D&I strategy at every level. It gives us an insight, but maybe not the whole picture.

As a global organization with regional differences and several operating systems, we need to ensure that our leadership committees understand and feel the benefit of the D&I agenda. Our leaders like things that are shown to be demonstrably improving, things that can be measured – data helps us to show that our D&I strategies are rooted in facts and the needs of our employees.

But in acknowledging that data is important, we also have to be realistic about its challenges.

Data about staff’s demographic breakdown

Like all companies, we collect data on our employees’ protected characteristics, but a challenge we face is comparing like for like data – it’s nearly impossible in a global organization. In some countries where we operate, you’re not allowed to ask any D&I questions at all. In Brazil, it’s a statutory requirement to ask about disability. Here in the UK, just to talk about ethnicity we have 30+ categories, 20 of which are ‘white and…’ options, but in Brazil there are only four categories: white, black, brown and yellow. Regardless of how challenging it is to use this data in a consistent way, I still believe it’s always better to have it, than not to. Data gives us real insights; it means that we’re not just guessing.

Data about staff engagement and perceptions of D&I

The Experian People Survey goes to all of our staff across the world, and this year it has two questions specifically asking about D&I. There were 10 question options that we could have used, but importantly we chose ones where there are benchmarks available. The results of these questions are going to be vital for our D&I strategy.

We are very encouraged that our survey results show that we have created an inclusive culture across our business, but the work that comes off the back of this is to verify the diversity of the organisation. This is a challenge in a global business, so our approach will need to be sophisticated enough to consider the local demographics that we can draw our employee base from rather than simply saying we have an ethnically diverse group (for example) across the business. Our strategy is very much one of ‘glocal’ where we want to create a global framework that allows all of us to succeed, but which supports locally-driven organic initiatives.

Data being used to improve D&I

We ask for a lot of data from our staff, we ask them to tell us about themselves and what they think – it is incredibly important that staff see that their input has led to positive change. We spend a lot of time communicating the results across the whole organization, and ensuring that everyone knows what we’re going to do with this information. Our campaign, ‘Be part of the conversation’, shows that staff contributions are taken seriously. We believe that closing this feedback loop encourages colleagues to continue to share their insights, because they can see the benefit.