I just read an article entitled “Why Women’s Careers Need Big Data” which talked about a study which was presented at the recent SIOP (Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology) conference in Houston. The study was looking to get to the root of what was impacting women’s career progression and was performed by David Futrell of Eli Lilly.
I’ve a couple of reasons for wanting to comment on this particular article; firstly, I believe it hits the proverbial nail on the head, and secondly, it demonstrates yet again why Workforce Analytics is something that employees should embrace and not be scared of. According to the article the study concluded that a key factor impacting women’s career progression was “commonly accepted success criteria and organisational structures“.
While the article referenced performance being tied to sacrifices which tend to impact women more than men due to family commitments, I believe the point is more subtle and pervasive. Many performance measurements tend to be inadvertently gender-biased because they often rely on self-promotion (those most effective at selling themselves in the performance review), personal achievements vs. collective ones, and value the highly confident extrovert vs. the highly productive introvert. If we believe all the studies, then these are all areas where women tend to be weaker than men, which makes performance systems inherently biased (and not just to women).
Enter Workforce Analytics…
One of the reasons I like Workforce Analytics is that it has the potential to level the playing field. It can measure what people are actually doing (checking in code or supporting a customer briefing) and align to business outcomes (no bugs in the code or customer deal closed). It can include value measurements that are not always so obvious because they are not directly tied to a personal achievement but are more tied to organizational achievement; such as their role the business network (sharing knowledge, mentoring, being a communication conduit between teams, etc.).
We are not there yet, mainly because we just aren’t capturing enough data to allow us to effectively apply these types of analytics, but we are getting there. Enterprise Social Networks are helping with this, and so is bigdata which is providing the infrastructure through which disparate systems and data can now be integrated and analytics applied across the entire set.
Workforce Analytics can be scary, however in the right hands and with the right level of governance, it can provide a hugely valuable tool for the organization and also for the hard-working employee who doesn’t feel his/her value is being recognized.