From Manual to Scalable: How Eos Foundation Drives Change With DiversIQ

The Eos Foundation is a private family foundation endowed with the mission to break the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures and education and fighting for social and racial justice. Since 2018, Magdalena Punty, the Director of Research at the Eos Foundation, has focused on the Women’s Power Gap: inadequate representation of women, notably women of color, in leadership positions across various industries.

The foundation’s work traces back to a troubling discrepancy.

“We were experiencing a diversity backslide in higher education. Massachusetts is a big hub for higher education. We have many universities here, and we started noticing fewer women among university presidents.”

This incident spurred the Eos team to delve deeper into the underpinnings of this issue.

Launching Annual Reports

They dove into rigorous data analysis, collecting public data and implementing a ranking system comparing institutions. The intent was not to condemn but to illuminate the efforts of organizations championing gender equality, making them an exemplification for other institutions. 

“We want to highlight the organizations doing more than others in their industries, whether that’s higher education, corporate, government boards and commissions, etc. We want to look at the best so we can learn from their cultures and what they’re doing to increase diversity.”

“We started with the pilot in Massachusetts higher education and then expanded to other industries. We released a report in 2018 and followed it with another in 2019. The pillar of our work is collecting publicly available data and ranking institutions against one another using a weighted methodology to encourage a race to the top.”

“And we found that the ranking methodology helped spur action among low performers. In Massachusetts, we went from 6% women of color presidents in higher ed to 18% at its highest, so it tripled in just five years.”

Moving Mountains To Seamless Scaling

It requires a herculean effort to accumulate the data necessary to fuel their research manually. Their partnership with DiversIQ has provided access to a much larger dataset that enables more thorough analyses. 

“Tracking who discloses what data is a big part of our work. We are a small team with some consultants to support us. So we felt like we had to move mountains.”

Armed with real-time data on named executive officers and racial demography, the foundation achieved invaluable insights into the professional advancement of women and minorities in leadership roles.

“Previously, we manually scraped data using basic tools. We’d go site to site and look people up. We were gathering data from multiple sources, such as EEO-1 reports, ESG reports, or annual reports. We obtained data from proxy statements, company websites for board members, and Nasdaq-listed companies’ diversity matrices. We had to search for each company and track their publications manually. It involved a lot of leg work and hours due to our limited capacity for handling large datasets. This is how we collected the data for our reporting – and because of this, our datasets were small, and it was difficult to scale.”

Individual-Level Insights Drive Intersectional Understanding

The organization’s highly methodical approach to data analysis is the foundation for drawing unique insights. Punty stressed the importance of harnessing individual-level data for intersectional analyses. 

“It’s important to have individual-level data for specific roles and positions. We’ll report on it intersectionally rather than as a whole group. For example, when we looked at S&P 500 CEOs, there were 18 or 19 Latino male CEOs and zero women. While the ethnic group as a whole may have representation, reporting on the group as a whole makes these women invisible.”

Getting these types of insights used to be much more difficult than it is today. 

“Before DiversIQ, we manually searched multiple sources, including press releases, to find information about people’s backgrounds when hired. For high-level executives, their racial diversity is often mentioned. If we couldn’t find it, we looked at Wikipedia pages, LinkedIn profiles, organizations they were part of, panels they spoke on, and even YouTube videos. It was a time-consuming process. Additionally, we created a survey tool to collect data and sent it to companies for verification. However, less than half of the companies provided data for the executive leadership team.”

Measuring The Path To CEO For Women

“Another significant aspect of our work involves studying the career trajectories of CEOs, exploring the path they took to reach this top office. For instance, did they start in finance? What were the key steps they took? And what were their final steps before assuming the CEO role for the first time? 

There’s talk of a pipeline problem, where women are directed toward HR, communications, and general counsel roles. Yet we find that approximately 19 percent of CFOs are women. Around 14 percent of COOs are women. So, women hold significant leadership roles as heads of divisions, with over 20 percent leading large divisions. 

However, the real issue is that we observe a significant drop in the percentage of women assuming the role of CEO, currently standing at 8 percent. 

We refer to this decline as the “final drop,” and it remains a crucial focus of our research, aiming to identify the factors contributing to this phenomenon.”

This synthesis is integral to informing advocacy efforts and effecting substantial changes in corporate cultures and decision-making processes. And it can only be done with a wealth of data.

DiversIQs Data

“DiversIQ helped us expand beyond the S&P 100 into the S&P 500 and Russell 1000. That’s more than 10X our previous dataset. It eliminates the risk of statistical errors due to insufficient sample size. 

In the S&P 100, companies face more scrutiny and strive harder. Diversity numbers decrease when expanding the sample to S&P 500 or Russell 1/3000. Having DiversIQ data, racial data, up-to-date executive officers’ names, and weekly updates is highly beneficial. I requested EEO-1 reports to analyze Latina numbers during Hispanic month. Intersectional data is crucial, and I received a file with 240,000 rows to work with.

Having that dashboard where I can look at the recently published data and with links to original formats right there is very helpful. 

Also, we piped the data into an Excel file so that I could play with it in terms of filtering, creating graphs, pivot tables, etc. It provides depth and widens our scope.”

Punty is hopeful that the advocacy work of the Eos Foundation will make a dent in the diversity problem. 

“We aim to shed light on the challenges women face in reaching higher levels, including barriers, experiences, and selection processes. We want to explore their unique challenges as the only woman in the room. These stories will highlight progress but acknowledge the slow pace of change. Achieving equity in this space may take generations. We hope to connect with individuals willing to openly share their experiences, making it accessible to our readers and those who may find it helpful.”

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