4 Crucial Roles Human Resources Can Play in Improving Enterprise Data Quality

HR’s role as a department that intersects with all other departments in the enterprise places it in a unique position to drive change and lead by example.
Dr. Grace Crossette-Thambiah
Dr. Grace Crossette-Thambiah

Our time has been called the Information Age, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the Imagination Age. While emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are becoming more dominant, the critical need for quality data remains constant.

Such technologies rely on high-quality data to generate insights and make accurate predictions. However, subpar data quality can result in inaccurate or inadequate insights, leading to erroneous decision-making that may have significant repercussions.

Data quality is essential to address throughout the development of information technologies to ensure that they operate successfully and provide accurate insights that support positive, evidence-based outcomes. Thus, data quality must be a priority for organizations that leverage emerging technologies as they seek to gain competitive advantage in their respective industries.

While numerous departments contribute significantly to data quality initiatives, Human Resources (HR) has a unique opportunity to play an important role in promoting data quality within the organization.

Recognizing data as a valuable enterprise asset, the HR department can and should play a crucial role in fostering an organizational culture centered around this principle. Additionally, HR’s role as a department that intersects with all other departments in the enterprise places it in a unique position to drive changes and lead by example.

HR can work with the Chief Data Officer (CDO) to leverage data quality goals more effectively. Aligned with the insights gained, this essay will illuminate four pivotal roles within HR's domain of data management:

  1. Data management and quality: HR oversees employee data, covering collection, storage, and processing, which are crucial for informed decisions.

  2. Governance, ethics, and compliance: HR can champion ethical data governance and privacy compliance, minimizing risks and establishing supporting frameworks.

  3. DEI bias mitigation: HR can foster fair data analysis and inclusive practices, addressing biases, particularly related to DEI.

  4. Data literacy culture: HR can drive a data literate culture, promoting shared understanding and knowledge across the organization.

Expanding on HR's role in managing sensitive employee data, it is evident that these four key functions significantly shape HR's impact in the data-driven landscape.

In the current landscape, the intricacies of employee data privacy and compliance have heightened due to the rigorous demands of regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Leveraging its distinctive interconnections across various units within the organization, HR possesses a unique vantage point from which to ensure that data governance initiatives harmonize with such regulations, thereby ensuring the legal compliance of employee data handling.

"HR professionals are well-positioned to lend their expertise in critical areas including consent management, data access controls, data retention policies, and data subject rights."

HR professionals are well-positioned to lend their expertise in critical areas including consent management, data access controls, data retention policies, and data subject rights. By doing so, they actively contribute to the development, implementation, and maintenance of robust governance practices for personnel data.

This proactive engagement can set an example for the organization as a whole and underscores how compliance and data protection can be effectively intertwined across domains.

The significance of adhering to data regulations isn't limited solely to employee data; the safeguarding of customer data is equally imperative. Thus, this principle extends beyond the realm of employee-related information and encompasses any personally identifiable data we collect. Thus, the policies and frameworks established for employee domain data can be seamlessly expanded to other domains as well.

Accurate and reliable data is vital for informed decision-making and effective organizational performance. HR can provide critical insights into the quality and integrity of employee data. Leveraging the HR department, organizations can gain from HR expertise in organizational data validation, cleansing, and standardization to enhance the overall quality of organizational data.

"HR can also collaborate with IT departments to establish data quality metrics..."

HR can also collaborate with IT departments to establish data quality metrics, define data governance roles and responsibilities, and develop data stewardship programs that promote data integrity throughout the organization.

Furthermore, HR plays a pivotal role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within organizations. The department can help identify potential biases in data collection and analysis, enabling organizations to make data-driven decisions that are more inclusive and equitable, thus reducing bias and ensuring fair treatment of diverse employee groups.

The HR department can play a key role in powering, through its distinctive data resources, an organization’s inclusive talent management practices, fair recruitment strategies, and unbiased performance evaluation methodologies.

"HR has a leading role in promoting organizational culture."

The value of HR is clearly cardinal to enforcing data quality initiatives. It has a leading role in promoting as part of organizational culture the value that data is a critical enterprise asset.  HR expertise is invaluable in establishing and maintaining effective data quality programs through cross-departmental activities from internal training to promoting values and activities organization-wide.

The cross-departmental nature of HR makes it uniquely able to promote policies and practices that value and protect enterprise data assets. To facilitate a culture of information quality in the enterprise, the department tasked with hiring, recruiting, employee onboarding, and continuing training is critical.

HR has a crucial role in administering training for employees on the value of data and the policies and procedures for ensuring data quality. Specific attributes within Employee data have the potential to serve as Master data, capable of being harnessed throughout the entire organization. The establishment of Employee data as Master data not only sets a precedent for data utilization but also provides a tangible example for the entire enterprise to follow.

In today's data-driven landscape, the HR department's vital role in enterprise data quality is evident. With emerging technologies relying on precise insights, HR's expertise in managing employee data and ensuring integrity, privacy, and compliance, is paramount. This extends to establishing HR data as a master category, warranting dedicated analysts despite budget challenges.

HR's unique interdisciplinary position enables equipping the workforce with data literacy, fostering inclusivity, reducing bias in decisions, and cultivating a culture of superior information quality — a precedent for a competitive data-driven future.

Author’s Bio:

Dr. Grace Crossette-Thambiah is a visionary data professional with a Ph.D. specializing in data quality and an unwavering passion for leveraging the power of data to drive organizational transformation.

With a strong academic foundation and extensive expertise in the field, Grace has honed an exceptional understanding of data management, analytics, and strategic decision-making. She thrives on leveraging the power of data to unlock transformative insights, empowering teams to make informed decisions that lead to substantial business growth.

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