As a former techie, I have always loved data. Data analysis is like exploration. It’s a journey of discovery as something previously concealed, but often hiding in plain sight, is revealed.
People data is no different in this regards.
I started working with people data and analysis almost 10 years back. I was an employee, in a technical role at a software company, and with support of our CTO and head of HR I volunteered to analyse our people data through the lens of gender.
To find significant results that we could act on was exciting. I did find those results. And we did make positive changes. But it was also shocking. I could place myself within the findings, and all of the implications implicit in that for my future path. That brought a whole host of feelings.
There is huge responsibility to working with people data. Responsibility for data protection, making sure privacy is protected and data is only used for its intended purpose, by people authorised to do so. Responsibility to clearly communicate what data is collected, and why. Careful consideration to how we communicate about results, ensuring there is a clear plan of action to address disparity.
We must always remember that data alone never tells the whole story. Beneath those data points are people’s lives and experiences.
When I share findings from data, what I hear back are people’s stories.
Data is a powerful tool to highlight those stories that need to be heard. Used well, data gives context. It sheds light on what’s systemic, helps show what’s important and direct where to take the most impactful action.