J. Murphy & Sons: Enhancing D&I through a culture of transparency, technology and trust

by HRD Connect

In recent times, social, political, and economic developments around the world have pushed diversity and inclusion (D&I) to the top of HR leaders’ agendas. From the value of employer branding to workplace harmony, D&I touches on all aspects of operations and is no longer a bonus part of the agenda. However, faced with such a sensitive and pressing topic, HR leaders must devise a strategy that is innovative, credible, comprehensive and understandable to all sections of the workforce. A well-executed strategy that incorporates these elements will help employees full their potential and the business to meet its objectives.

In this case study, Dawn Moore (group people director, J. Murphy & Sons Limited) outlines how her uniquely developed ‘Three Ts’ strategy has created improvements in the long-term.

Assessing the D&I issue

D&I has been talked about as an issue within the construction sector for many years – but real, tangible progress is often hard to find evidence of. Much of this is down to organisations not being clear on their starting point – i.e. how diverse they are (or aren’t) based on their workforce data. As a result, many develop D&I strategies which ‘feel’ like the right thing to do, but the success of which can’t really be evidenced. The problem of data has been further exacerbated by the now legal requirement on gender pay gap reporting, the soon to be mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and the potential future disability pay gap reporting. Many organisations cite multiple barriers to accurate diversity data collection, which include :

  • HR systems not being user friendly, reliable or secure
  • Ethnicity data is much more multi-faceted than gender – which categories to use?
  • Diversity data collection is seen as ‘too intrusive’
  • Employees fearful of career impact, so ‘prefer not to say’
  • Data collection is too onerous
  • Employees feeling that their gender, ethnicity and other diversity data status is not relevant to their work.

The issue for construction and most other sectors was summarised well by PwC in a recent report on ethnicity and gender pay:

“The complexity is far from limited to the [diversity] data collection exercise. There is a lot of hesitation around employees being willing to give the data needed at all. Innovation is key to the approach organisations take and needs to balance the need for data and reporting with engagement, communication and building trust to get that data.”

With that in mind, this case study shares real life and innovative examples from what is now over 25 years of experience in construction and a variety of sectors on how to address this challenge through the Three Ts –  transparency, technology and most importantly, trust.

As part of this approach, a number of steps can be taken and these can be summarised as follows.

Top tip 1: Approach the experts

I can’t recommend enough speaking to the experts – the best experts being your employees and particularly those from underrepresented groups. Feedback from them as to why they may be hesitant to give you the data can often give very clear direction as to the technology, transparency and trust required which can then be supplemented with external verification. Here is a tangible, internal example from Murphy. when gaps in the diversity data were being revived. This has since been used as ‘food for thought’ among senior managers.

Top tip 2: Transparency and innovation in data collection

To achieve a different result on diversity data you need to do something different to what you’ve done in the past. Based on experience, this approach can take two forms, and I’ve used this approach successfully in more than one company.

Ask yourself two sets of questions, behavioural and practical:

Top tip 3: Technology and engagement

Technology is integrated into this in a number of ways. Firstly a video from a client of Murphy, HS2, was used as to highlight to Murphy employees the why, how and benefits of ensuring accurate diversity data collection.

There is then the opportunity to link the data your technology can give you to your business performance:

I would also recommend following this by taking the opportunity to leverage actual technology itself. I would encourage all organisations to think of the technology they already have and how it can be utilised better to help you on this journey. Two examples of this from my experience are as follows:

Power BI was deployed in one organisation I worked for to maximum effect – not only to gather and present diversity data but to give genuine data-driven insight as a result of different relevant factors within the business, such as:

  • Complex reward and remuneration structures with lots of different pay elements (eg. weekly paid workforce)
  • Identifying any existing pay discrepancies based on gender but also ethnicity, disability
  • Look at not just obvious salary based inequalities but other factors such as housing allowances, cars, locations
  • Insights into why gaps exist based on a combination of data and other information (e.g. employee surveys)
  • Enables managers to home in on areas of concern or share areas of best practice
  • Insight takes the emotion out of the subject and away from randomly setting targets
  • Opportunities to take more data-driven decisions to narrow these gaps.

This piece of technology can also be used to present the data transparently and innovatively.

Similarly within Murphy, we have also used our already ongoing data warehouse and analytics project to link all the key data sets involved to ensure our diversity data – and hence things like our gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting – is as robust as possible.  An overview of this is given below:

Top tip 4: Present completely transparently

It is far easier to present a solution to the board when it is based on technology and other factors they are familiar with already, such as in the examples shown above.

Not only that, but ensuring the technology gives genuine insight which is relevant to the current challenges that specific business faces makes it all the more powerful.

For example, where Power BI and the data insight project and technology solutions were used, trends and specific points for action were able to be highlighted which correlated well with ongoing business challenges. These included skills shortages, underrepresentation of females and BAME employees in the construction sector and much more. Some mock examples are given below along with business specific actions able to be agreed as a result of it:

The outcome

This is something that is ongoing but certainly the goal of  gaining powerful workforce diversity insight and tangible business action through the Three Ts – a culture of transparency, technology and trust is well underway. Below are some real results from the business insight given in the examples above which give every reason to be optimistic that this is an approach that works:

Summary

To discover more about how the uniquely developed Three Ts approach can benefit organisational operations, contact Dawn Moore today.

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