Tech companies love data. But so far, most of them have done a lackluster job at harnessing their own hiring and retention data to create a more inclusive workplace.
It's time for companies to apply a more data-driven, evidence-based approach to their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, Paradigm CEO Joelle Emerson told Protocol.
"What we want organizations to start doing is going beyond just looking at your demographic data, your representation data, trying a bunch of random stuff because you've just got ideas or you read something on the internet," Emerson said. "And then two years later, being like, 'I wonder why we look the exact same?' We want to flip that on its head and say, 'Collect more effective data, design targeted strategies to address the gaps that you find and then measure your progress so that you know if those things are working.'"
Paradigm has spent the past seven years working with companies like Airbnb, Slack, Lyft and Twitter to examine and analyze where demographic gaps exist, and then design interventions. The work has largely centered around consulting, but it's hoping its new platform, Blueprint, will enable it to reach thousands of companies at a more affordable price point, Emerson said. Blueprint costs $15,000 per year, which is less than 10% of what it would cost to normally work with Paradigm, she said.
The platform enables companies of all sizes to assess their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and then receive input about programs to implement in order to drive impact. It will also, of course, measure progress. Through Blueprint, companies can track a variety of areas, including attrition rates, promotion rates and compensation.
"Part of what you want to see if you want to become a more representative company is that people coming into your company represent a more diverse population than those already there," Emerson said. "So hiring rates are one way to look at that."
Paradigm's platform Blueprint gives companies input regarding the efficacy of their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.Image: Paradigm
Upon signing up, companies first participate in an assessment based on the organization's demographic data. Blueprint's algorithm then analyzes what the company has shared, scores those responses and then shows them how they stack up compared to the benchmark. That benchmark is determined by the other companies that have already input their data into the platform. The more data that comes into the system, the more insightful the benchmark will become. Blueprint then makes a suggestion about what areas companies should prioritize and provides the company with tools to implement those strategies.
"For example, if we're telling you that we think a priority should be developing a structured interview process, we actually give you a template and toolkits on how to build that process," Emerson said. "And then you can collaborate with colleagues around executing on that strategy."
Companies are empowered to share their own data externally, but Paradigm itself does not share that data. So far, Emerson has seen companies download reports from the platform and share them with board members or other team members. Eventually, Paradigm hopes to make it easier for companies to download a variety of data and charts to use for external communications, like annual diversity reports.
Companies will not, however, be able to include any sort of badge, Emerson said. The Human Rights Campaign, for example, enables companies to promote their rankings on the LGTBQ+ workplace equality index. But that's not something Paradigm is interested in, Emerson said.
Emerson doesn't want a scenario where a company promotes a good Paradigm Blueprint score while, in reality, someone is experiencing sexual harassment at that company.
"So we're really careful when we're giving companies scores to give them an accurate score," she said. "Which means that across basically every dimension we're scoring companies, most of them score pretty poorly. And we have to be really thoughtful about the messaging there, because we don't want to discourage organizations."
Paradigm has worked with about 25 companies in a beta test for the past year, and the firm has found that companies can vary across the board. Leadership involvement in DEI efforts, for example, sees some companies score quite well while others score "pretty low," Emerson said. Talent life cycle is a category many companies perform poorly in, but Paradigm has seen some companies that are already checking for promotion disparities. Sometimes a company's highest score is a 52% and its lowest is 8%, Emerson said.
"We're trying to give companies scores against what we believe they should be doing, rather than against what actually exists in the world," she said. "Which is a very, very low bar."