Women's History Month blog image - Ellen 03.2024 V1

Women's History Month: Investing Through Data

At the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) we recognise our people as our greatest strength.  

We seek to invest in them by offering training and development opportunities and continuously striving to be a great, inclusive place to work. As a publicly funded organisation, we must ensure value from the work we do. We do this by making data-driven decisions about where we focus our efforts and collecting feedback to ensure our initiatives have the desired impact.

This Women’s History Month, Ellen from our Data and Insight team has been looking at some of the ways we use data across the organisation to understand the women who work here and how we can #InvestInWomen. 

In 2022 we established our ‘People Data Team’: A small team that designs and builds reporting capabilities which support the NHSBSA in creating a workplace for colleagues to thrive. The team also supports the NHSBSA’s priority to ‘attract, develop, and retain' the very best colleagues who will contribute to the success of the organisation. The People Data report provides insight into gender, as well as other characteristics, which helps us to understand the experiences of colleagues from different groups and support the development of targeted initiatives. 

The NHSBSA also has a Data Science and Advanced Analytics team which regularly looks at gender in its initiatives. One example is the use of machine learning to identify where our job advertisements and job descriptions sometimes use language that makes them more appealing to male applicants. This can deter women from making an application, leading to a less diverse candidate pool, and could ultimately mean women miss out on opportunities. The results of this work are used to improve the way we write job descriptions, with a view to eliminating this barrier.

Each year, our Colleague Experience and Social Impact Team produces several reports including our Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report. It’s a summary of our progress against our Diversity and Inclusion goals set out within our strategy. This year’s report held some good news for women; representation at higher pay bands has continued to trend upward and is now almost equal, which is a positive trend to note.

All these analyses are only as good as the data that underpins them. Over the past year, our People Data Team have been working with our Data Profiling Team to understand the quality of our people data and develop plans to improve it.   

Our Customer Insight Team regularly supports us in capturing feedback on development and inclusion initiatives. In the autumn of 2023, Customer Insight collaborated with our People Team and Women’s Network to run our first Women’s Development Survey. Over 300 women from across the NHSBSA provided us with valuable data to better understand the development opportunities women are making use of, the barriers to accessing development, and some of the benefits colleagues have gained. We’ll use this data to help shape the NHSBSA’s learning and development offer, including tailored initiatives for women colleagues. 
Some of the ways we’re doing this include:  

  • Evaluating how we communicate and inform colleagues about the learning opportunities the NHSBSA provides
  • Providing more flexible development opportunities – enabling access for colleagues who work part-time, have flexible working patterns, and/or have caring responsibilities
  • Ensuring the feedback from the results is reflected in how the NHSBSA enhances its approach to colleague performance and associated management training.

As one of our Women’s network co-chairs, having access to high-quality data and reporting that sheds light on how we can best #InvestInWomen is invaluable for planning our network sessions and events throughout the year.  

I'd also like to see our networks use data to prompt discussions around key issues, and this approach has helped me to gain a greater understanding of how a variety of working patterns are enabling the progress of women across our organisation.

Also, the importance of ensuring that we provide development and engagement opportunities which align with more flexible working patterns, as well as being available to women who work across our different office locations (or indeed work from home). 

It’s exciting to think about what new insights our data colleagues might uncover for us in the coming years. We can then maximise the value of this data for the NHSBSA, its colleagues, and our future workforce.