Experian has access to some unique data sets and insights that have enabled us to develop a product that can help us, and other organisations, better understand the ethnic profile of our workforce. This is important because, in common with most organisations, achieving a diverse workforce is one way we can ensure we tap into the broadest range of talent available to us.
Last year's report described the development of this new Experian software, which infers people's ethnic origins from their name: MOSAIC Origins. This year has seen Experian begin to apply the product to helping companies understand and manage the diversity of their workforces, starting with itself.
The MOSAIC Origins tool works by comparing a list of names with a database, containing millions of first and family names from around the world. By weighting the combinations of names it can provide a strong indicative analysis of the ethnic mix of the names on the list. It is a statistical tool, in that it is best applied to large numbers of names, rather than an individual, but it gives companies the ability to look quickly and easily at their staff mix, without the need for intrusive questionnaires. It can be used to understand how the patterns in the employee data reflect the organisation's structure, the diversity of its employee catchment pool and its customers.
We initially used it to profile our 1,600 people working in Nottingham. By analysing our employee records and comparing them to the local population we were able to see which groups of people might be under- or over-represented in our workforce. The answer was 'none' — we matched our catchment very closely.
But there were immediate additional insights that came from the data, and the HR team took on a more detailed analysis, extending this to the whole of the Experian UK team. During the year we have been able to look much more deeply into the statistics: are all our divisions equally diverse, or are there concentrations of particular groups of people in particular roles? How does ethnic and gender diversity relate? Are our more recent recruits more or less diverse than the average; are we getting our recruitment right?
The answers are extremely valuable and confirm that Experian's employees show a strong mix of origins, and that we reflect society pretty well. We have also found that we are becoming more diverse; our younger people come from a much greater mix of backgrounds, which is a useful insight for our recruiters. The project is ongoing, and we have more to learn, but this real-life trial has proved extremely valuable so far.