The Business Case for Global Self-Id Data:
• Self-identification data is critical to understanding inequalities, targeting diversity and inclusion policies and strategies, and monitoring the impact of remedies
• Collecting employee self-id data across global operations enables companies to compare results, share experiences, and identify what works and what doesn’t for building equity and inclusion for specific groups in specific locations
• Self- id data can help employers understand whether targeted actions to build workforce equity and inclusion have had measurable impact
• The data also helps identify specific problems and barriers faced by marginalized employee groups and informs actions to mitigate those barriers
• Publishing and promoting how self-id information is used to advance equity and improve the workplace increases loyalty and retention and enhances reputation
• Collecting community-specific demographic data lets those employees know their experiences are taken seriously and positively impacts the motivation and performance of those employees
• Country-specific self-id data collection efforts allow companies to take targeted and culturally sensitive actions that respond to the local needs of diverse employee groups; locally driven efforts also offset concerns that D&I efforts are imposed from remote HQ offices.
• Build the case for collecting the information
• Answer the key questions: Can we ask? Should we ask? How do we ask?
• Craft clear messaging regarding how the information will be used and how will it help the organization and employees
• Involve senior management and get mid-level managers on board at the outset
• Obtain ongoing input and feedback from company D&I, HR, IT, and legal professionals
• Engage employee affinity groups in the organization and in the specific
countries where the data collection will take place
• Determine the best form of data collection
• Pilot the project in selected countries to test and refine the process—select pilots in countries where the company already has a visible commitment to employee equality and inclusion
• International labor and employment laws derive from a variety of sources, including constitutional law, statutory law, and administrative regulations, as well as local customs, principles, and cultural distinctions.
• The laws vary country-by-country, and not all governments extend workers the same rights and protections against discrimination.
• US companies with overseas operations need to interpret and understand the laws of each country where they maintain a base of operations, and develop location specific strategies for lawfully engaging foreign-based workers at that location.
• They must also consider and adapt to the unique cultural aspects of each country, region, and community in which they operate.
• Assess local laws related to collecting and storing employee self-id data: many companies contract with local legal experts and country-specific civil rights organizations to assess local laws and craft questionnaires
• Understand what laws apply: it may be legal to collect self-id data but illegal to attach the data to HR records
• Explain the form of data monitoring that is proposed and why the company is collecting the information
• Determine if collected data can legally cross borders and/or be saved in a different country
• Assess whether explicit consent from employees is required, and how to legally secure that consent
Companies often contract with local legal experts to identify issues and constraints to collecting diversity data. Local legal experts are provided with a summary of the purpose for collecting the information and asked to provide responses to specific questions related to legality. They are also asked to highlight where answers may differ depending on the type of diversity data collected (i.e. laws may differ regarding collection of gender information and sexual orientation data). Sample questions include:
Participation – Get employees in other countries to participate across all business units and demographic groups. Foster competition and offer incentives across locations to get employees interested and involved.
Metrics – Get local employee input to survey design to ensure the questions are asked in ways that are relevant and appropriate to local culture and norms.
Confidentiality – Explain how privacy will be protected and assure employees they can share information and concerns openly, without fear of retribution. If employees think they will be personally identified by their responses, they will be less likely to provide honest feedback.
Share Results – Sharing survey results within and across company locations builds transparency, fosters corporate unity, and allows employees to follow actions that are based on results.
Take Action – If employees don’t see the company acting on issues identified in surveys, they are less likely to participate in future efforts. Fixing problems identified through the survey process builds employee confidence in the process and demonstrates that feedback from all employees at all locations valued.
• Surveys and questionnaires that include demographic information must be processed in a way that ensures anonymity
• Individuals must not be identifiable by tracking responses to different questions
• Raw data should not be available and reports should only include aggregated sets of data
• Some companies outsource the collection and analysis of diversity data and only access aggregated reports
• Systems should be put in place to ensure self-id information will be kept confidential and secure
• Access to the data should be limited to a few specified people within the company to ensure data security of the safety of employees reporting
• Using the data to make comparisons across different international locations must take into account social, cultural and legal differences in the countries being compared
• Employee names, addresses, national IDs, benefits eligibility, job titles, and many other data fields associated with employee identification can differ from country to country in terms of format and structure
• Ignoring how people’s names are written or pronounced can result in making employees feel disenfranchised and have an adverse effect on culture
• There are additional complex issues around how employees are “labeled” or what data is collected pertaining to gender, demographics, and family status – for example, whether it is legal, safe, or appropriate to track marital status or the gender of an employee’s spouse
• These data requirements differ from culture to culture and from company to company and are important factors to consider in what data is collected and how that data is collected
• In some countries, capturing diversity data is common business practice and is well supported in the law, however, this is not always the case – for example, with regard to LGBTQ data, in some countries having same-sex relationships is illegal and/or trans identities are not protected