Many years ago, the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland (author of the 1990s classics Generation X, and Microserfs) argued that eighty percent of the world takes things at face value. If that’s true, it’s certainly an incredibly outsized swath of the population – and an ominous sign for the future of humanity.
But in our experience, asset managers, investors, management consultants, journalists, and other public company stakeholders rarely take things at face value. That’s why our data analysts go to great lengths to provide diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and human capital data you can use with confidence.
OUR RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
First, let’s dive into our discovery process, which includes overlapping tools and processes to uncover and deliver new human capital and DEI data, within a week of publication.
To accomplish this, our technology continually combs through S&P 500 and Russell 1000 company website pages that have, or are expected to have, relevant data. In addition, our research team maintains disclosure schedules, and performs manual checks for expected data (ESG, CSR, and DEI reports, 10-Ks, 10-Qs, etc.). Finally, our analysts track industry publications, social media feeds, and news articles for new data, and for validation of existing data.
This process has allowed us to be the first to discover hundreds of disclosures, including the first-ever EEO-1 reports for ExxonMobil, Berkshire Hathaway, and Simon Property Group. More importantly, it results in thousands of real-time DEI data points that can confidently be used in engagement, stewardship, and investment analysis efforts.
Another important aspect of our DEI research process is normalization, which helps public company stakeholders make sense of seemingly disparate data points.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at how public companies report workforce representation data. Imagine company A defines senior leadership as “everyone with a VP title and above,” and company B defines it as “everyone with a director title.” In this case, it would be extremely challenging (and time consuming) to make an apples-to-apples comparison. That’s why we’re continually engaging with public company representatives and investor relations teams to improve DEI data quality across companies and sectors.
We also go way beyond that – by providing clients with on-demand context, via the raw files for each data point. Our source library, which contains tens of thousands of raw files, goes all the way back to 2014. Most importantly, we archive every file, so a permanent record always exists, even if a company removes the data from their website.
Finally, we never rely on technology to validate questionable data. Instead, we follow a rigorous process that goes far beyond the norm.
Several data providers employ technology that automates certain parts of the data validation process. While this technology has potential for the future, in our opinion it’s not yet ready for prime time.
That’s why our data analysts come in. The members of our research team have honed their intelligence gathering skills in finance, corporate America, and the U.S. military – and their ability to validate DEI and human capital data with real sources is second to none. In certain cases, this includes extensive searches for voter registration data, birth certificates, and other public records (for board member and c-suite data), as well as conversations with public company IR and PR teams (for many other types of data).