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D&I at GDI: A peek under the hood

Updated: Aug 3

August 2022, Sydney

By Mary Wu


The Good Data Institute (GDI) acts as a bridge between non-profit organisations (NFPs) and over 120 data analytics professionals passionate about social impact, who share a common belief that data and analytics has tremendous potential to help organisations measure, achieve and accelerate their impact.


However, with the continuous growth of the volunteer network, it has become harder to allocate underlying NFP projects with volunteers’ interests, professional backgrounds, and capabilities in an inclusive and equitable manner. Therefore, GDI recently devised an internal visualisation and analytical dashboard for the leadership team to showcase volunteers’ skillsets, diversity, and areas of interest. This task was set as a challenge for five volunteers from the University of Sydney 180 Degrees Consulting association, including myself, who designed and developed a Tableau dashboard over the past 10 weeks.


The successful delivery of the project provided a snapshot of the demographic profile and skillsets of GDI volunteers and will facilitate networking across the global community. In addition, it has highlighted the diversity and inclusion (D&I) of the GDI community in the four domains of a) professional backgrounds, b) demographics, c) skills, and d) social interests.


Let's take a peek under the hood of this fast-growing network.


Diversity in Volunteer Demographics


One of the core values of GDI is “elevating others”. Yet, elevating a NFP partner's capabilities cannot be achieved without collaboration from the GDI global volunteer community. The team believes that GDI's diverse community in terms of location, gender, age ranges and ethnicity, creates an outcome more than the sum of its parts.


Since GDI was founded in Australia, it has attracted more local talent and data professionals closer to home compared to other regions, with a total of around 60 volunteers in the 'Great Southern Land', followed by New Zealand with almost 40 personnel. Also, it’s exciting to witness the growing trend not only in the Oceania regions but also in the United States, UK, and Europe since 2019, with this expansion continuing via word-of-mouth recommendations and the high-standard of work delivered in the past years.


Currently, about 40% of GDI volunteers are female, and over half of GDI volunteers are Asian. In terms of age distribution, about 45% of volunteers are between 25-30, and 25% of volunteers are over 30. Yet, despite the young bent of this group, this is an extremely highly accomplished group of data professionals, not students, with many "manager" titles among the group. GDI plans to continue to provide more opportunities for females at the top of the funnel and within the organisation, to drive gender equality even further.


Professional backgrounds, social interests, and skills


GDI is ultimately a community with shared interests as highlighted by one of their other key values: “Good Times, Good Vibes, Good Data”, with team members coming together around social events, or learning and development sessions. Individuals work in the fields of data science, software engineering, technology, and management consulting at various organisations such as Google, Canva, Xero, NASA and BCG. They have been delivering D&A projects for 40+ NFPs across small to large organisations, like Opportunity International, The NZ Red Cross, Barnados, Arts Center Melbourne, NSW Nature Conservation Council and Inclusive America.


GDI also brings together individuals with diverse professional backgrounds in consulting, banking and professional services. The skillsets brought to the team are impressive, and most team members are advanced in data analysis and processing using Excel or scripting languages such as Python and R, in addition to public speaking and presentations. Also, GDI’s volunteer network showcases a great balance of the capabilities of using data visualisation tools from Tableau, Power BI, and other open-source programming technologies. Moreover, volunteers’ areas of interest for social causes are a great mix, particularly in education, gender equality, climate action and affordable & clean energy. GDI continues to seek out more partnership opportunities in these highlighted sectors.


Collaboration and Inclusion for Volunteer Network

GDI continues to focus on increasing the engagement and collaboration of its network by inviting GDI Fellows and volunteers to learning and development (L&D) sessions covering project work, D&A tools and digital trends, and volunteers use Slack to keep in the loop on upcoming branch based social events.


With the network search function built for the dashboard, it may in the future become even easier for GDI volunteers to connect among each other to those with similar interests and backgrounds, hence further fostering friendships and belonging, leading to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community. On the other hand, it may serve as a central dashboard to showcase volunteers’ skill levels and areas of interest, enabling a more data-driven project allocation procedure that would align both interests as well as capacities.


Final playback with GDI Co-founder, Project mentor and Volunteer Team and the Social Innovation Prize and People’s voice prize recognised by the University of Sydney for the most outstanding digital project among 14+ teams



Particularly following the COVID years, it is clear that diversity and inclusion will play a critical role in the way we do business, attract talent and grow brands in the future. Moreover, an increase in the rate of collaboration and engagement among the volunteering community is critical to co-deliver greater value for all segments of society, hence leading to a larger social impact.


An analysis by Mckinsey indicates firms that are more diverse are more profitable, more productive, more competitive, and give better results to shareholders. If GDI's example is anything to go by, it looks like diversity and inclusion in the not for profit sector is also a key driver of social impact.


It's time to walk the path of diversity & inclusion in the data analytics realm — from our peek under the hood it is evident that the Good Data Institute is helping pave the way.


By Mary Wu



Get Involved:

If you are a data & analytics professional looking to make an impact and become part of a global community of people like you, applications for our next GDI Data For Good cohort will open soon with the program running over Oct, Nov and Dec 2022. This program serves as the gateway into the Good Data Institute community and consists of learning and development (L&D) events and a team based hackathon with a NFP partner. Sign up for our newsletter here to stay in the loop.


About GDI:

The Good Data Institute (established 2019) is a registered not-for-profit organisation (ABN: 6664087941) that aims to give not-for-profits access to data analytics (D&A) support & tools. Our mission is to be the bridge between the not-for-profit world and the world of data analytics practitioners wishing to do social good. Using D&A, we identify, share, and help implement the most effective means for growing NFP people, organisations, and their impact.


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