People analytics is the practice of gathering and using data about your workforce to enable evidence-based decision making for the benefit of your organisation and its people. By taking a systematic and critical approach to examining people data, people professionals can contribute to an organisation’s success by creating insights on what can and should be done to drive strategic change.

The CIPD has conducted case study research with a number of organisations to understand how they are using people analytics to deal with a variety of business challenges. Their experiences and insight can help you in your own context to embrace people analytics and adopt good, data-supported actions to improve organisational practice and performance.

Using people data to tackle pay gaps and drive inclusive change

Organisation: University of Warwick
Industry: Higher education
Size: Over 7,000 staff
Speaker: Mona Parikh, Reward Manager

Why did you turn to people data for a solution?

As a UK employer with 250 or more staff, we are legally required to report our gender pay gap figures annually using a prescribed set of metrics. In 2020, we went beyond our statutory duty and also published our ethnicity and disability pay gaps, calculating them in the same way as the statutory gender pay gap report. We wanted to get a better understanding of our staff demographics to inform targeted actions to reduce the gender pay gap and also address ethnicity and disability representation, especially at senior levels.

How did you collect and analyse the data?

The reward team worked closely with the payroll and HR systems teams to collect total pay, bonus pay, staff numbers and protected characteristics and then analysed pay gaps by the different employee groups.

What did this exercise uncover?

When we examined our data in more detail, we found the differences in pay between men and women in the same grades were small and, in many cases, insignificant. So it quickly became clear that the cause of the university’s pay gap could most certainly be attributed to the profile of our workforce. Women were overrepresented in lower-paid roles and underrepresented in higher-paid roles, as were staff who were black, Asian or minority ethnic, or who had a declared disability.

What action did you take?

To make a real change, we needed to address the uneven distribution of staff by gender across different grades; the same applied to reducing our ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

We undertook a range of targeted actions to progressively remove the barriers for women to move senior roles, working closely with stakeholders in different departments. For example, we piloted leadership and development programmes focusing on certain employee groups such as those who have stayed in the same grade for many years. We are now focused on developing an institutional talent management strategy which will cover talent attraction, recruitment, development, promotion, career progression and succession planning.

What were the outcomes and lessons learnt?

Closing pay gaps is a long-term effort, so it’s important to celebrate positive change along the way. For example, the pilot leadership and development programmes were very successful, with some female staff being seconded or promoted into more senior roles. More of these programmes will be rolled out in the year ahead. Another notable positive outcome is that we’ve retained a 100% success rate for female staff applications to professorial positions since 2017 after we changed the academic promotions process (in many universities, it is common practice for academics to apply to be promoted to the next grade).

Solving business problems with people analytics:
case studies

From ensuring fair pay and inclusion to improving wellbeing and retention, people professionals can use people analytics to tackle business challenges

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