The Chapman Consulting Group co-hosted its latest APAC HR Leaders gathering at the BHP Billiton offices on 6th March. There were representatives present from a range of industries sparking dynamic group discussions on a multitude of topics.

The first topic covered was diversity and inclusion. This subject generated lively debate based on a variety of experiences across the group. Approaches and attitudes towards diversity and inclusion were compared and contrasted across different organisations. Some key conclusions drawn were that most companies have a diversity initiative in place but this is often established by headquarters and not adapted to regional considerations. Diversity and inclusion initiatives can therefore be too focused on staple aspects, such as gender and ethnicity, whilst omitting various nuances in particular regions and locations, especially those linked to inclusion. Furthermore, when a company is experiencing growth and success, diversity and inclusion is high on the agenda, but when times get tougher, these initiatives will make way for business priorities that are perceived to directly affect the bottom line. It’s therefore important to educate leaders that the diversity and inclusion agenda can impact the bottom line.

The conversation then shifted to how best to drive best practice diversity and inclusion. There was overriding agreement that a focus on inclusion would in turn naturally propel diversity. It is not just the responsibility of HR to drive this, HR need to let go and encourage the business to champion it as their priority, where everyone is responsible. The overall conclusion being if you fix inclusion, you fix diversity.

We then moved onto the topic of people analytics and the role of HR MI in driving a more strategic HR function. In the past, data has been the realm of sales and marketing functions, but HR data can be used to significantly help achieve business objectives. The advantage of HR MI is the ability to predict the future and drive a more focused approach to decision making. Data gives the opportunity to consider all factors and make measured predictions on the people challenges of the future. It can tell us things we do not normally see. An example given was that it can help identify those in the organisation previously under the radar that require attention from a performance perspective. This applies to both those under-performing as well as those over-performing who may need to be better incentivised and included in future succession plans.

The group had mixed experiences with using data. The technology for this is embryonic and there is still a degree of uncertainty both in the validity of the data and how best to interpret the information. Time is still needed in moving this from an art to a science, but there was a general feeling that data analytics is becoming more prominent and will become an increasingly important tool for HR in the future. It was a great group with some very interesting sharing of experiences and opinions and we look forward to bringing the group together again in the future.