The APQC Blog

4 Things Walmart Learned About Using Data to Drive Diversity

How Walmart Built A Data-Driven Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

Despite years of effort and substantial expenditures, most organizations fall short of providing a truly diverse and inclusive work experience. Yet, having a diverse and inclusive workplace is arguably more important than ever as organizations compete for talent to fuel digital innovation.

In an email interview, Walmart’s Senior Director of the Global Office of Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion—Donald Fan—explained how analytics can play a big role in making diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies more successful.

Learn more by registering for APQC’s Thursday, September 19 complimentary webinar in which Donald Fan will present: How Walmart Built a Data-Driven Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Why is Walmart making analytics a key part of its diversity and inclusion strategy?

At Walmart, our vision for diversity and inclusion (D&I) is “everyone included along the journey.” By building a workplace where everyone is included and valued, everyone wins. Our mission is to create an inclusive culture where all associates are engaged to deliver on our shared purpose: saving people money so they can live better.

We adopt four principles to guide our D&I efforts: objectivity, transparency, data-driven decision making, and accountability. These guiding principles reveal the rationale—why analytics plays a critical role in our D&I strategy. The in-depth analytics help us learn from the past, uncover the challenges, communicate the D&I stories, make smarter decisions, and hold our leaders accountable in advancing gender and racial parity in the workplace.

How does Walmart use analytics in its diversity and inclusion work?

Research indicates time and again that organizations waste time and energy in solving the wrong problem. We don’t want to be trapped in this pitfall. We leverage analytics to ask the right questions, select the right indicators, spot the right patterns, and come up with the right solutions. We apply three methods to help us uncover the truth:

  • Descriptive Analytics—use data mining to provide insight into the past: “What has happened along our D&I journey?” “What lessons can we learn from it?” “What are the current challenges?”
  • Predictive Analytics—use modeling and forecast techniques to understand the future: “What could happen?” “How can we arrive at the destination sooner?”
  • Prescriptive Analytics—use simulation algorithms to advise on possible outcomes and options: “What should we do?” “How can we avoid pitfalls and accelerate growth?”

What results has Walmart seen so far from using analytics in diversity and inclusion?

The analytics provides us the intelligence to determine the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and sustain the progress. These KPIs reflect a game changer, drive a behavior change, and align with business objectives and talent strategy.

The results of analytics help us craft the D&I narrative and communicate the success story. We meet with each of the CEO’s direct reports regularly to communicate this narrative: showcasing what the data tells, uncovering impact on business objectives, indicating how it fares against internal and external comparisons, sharing blind spots, and then ideating what actions are needed to tackle the challenges. This on-going conversation is critical to keep momentum.

What advice would you give another diversity and inclusion professional who is just getting started using analytics in diversity and inclusion?

The lessons we learned from our practices include:

  • Leadership Commitment: We know it’s critical to have bold leadership support; without the tone set at the top, it’s impossible to advance D&I. D&I won’t succeed if it’s only led and managed by the chief diversity officer or office of diversity. We must engage business leaders and help them champion and take ownership of D&I work.
  • Business Alignment: Align D&I efforts and analytics with business objectives and showcase how we can add value to their business growth. Make D&I a business imperative by embedding it into the talent lifecycle.
  • Accountability: Use data to tell the story and close the gaps. Select game-changing KPIs and hold leaders accountable to move the needles. Tie the results with compensation and performance evaluation.
  • Last, communicate, communicate, communicate…make D&I always on: Leverage analytics to craft a D&I narrative that helps change people’s minds and behavior. Convey the consistent message through all channels and business venues. Recognize and reward best practice and success stories.

Join APQC on Thursday, September 19 for a complimentary webinar featuring Donald Fan, senior director of global office of culture – diversity and inclusion, Walmart. Donald will share key learnings, pitfalls to avoid, and areas of focus when building a data-driven diversity and inclusion strategy.