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Half of Your Job is Deciphering the Truth


We live in a world where the media bombards us with over-sensationalized article titles. Our niche world of analytics is no different. 

People Analytics / HR Analytics 

Several years ago, we repeatedly heard that HR Analytics was “going exponential.” As someone who does analytics projects every day, I had to disagree. There were too many real-world factors that limit the speed of implementing analytics (budget, technology implementation, data accuracy, business acumen knowledge, etc.). For the past 10 years, I have been “hands-on” with such projects and progressing in analytics is a slow, steady climb requiring much effort. It will never be exponential and it never was. 

If you look at the image at the top of this article, you will see a Google Trends chart where the red line represents searches for People Analytics and the blue line represents searches for HR Analytics. If we assume that interest and efforts toward HR/People Analytics is loosely related to the number of times these terms are searched, there is no math person that would say these lines show exponential interest. Yes, I admit that I have made an assumption here in using Google trends to assess interest, but I think that’s better than judging interest from surveys that only ask the interest levels of the largest companies in the world. The business world is primarily made up of smaller businesses. 

When I woke up this morning, I was greeted with an HR Tech article described using the words, massive, disruption and a reference to a destructive tropical storm. Like analytics, my opinion is that this topic will move much slower than the media states because of practical limitations. 

Your job, as an analyst, head of analytics or business leader, is unfortunately made more difficult by media hype. Half of your job is deciphering the truth. How much of what you read do you believe to be true? 

Gender Pay Gap and Gender Equity 

Those that follow my work know that I have spent a great deal of time performing analytics related to gender fairness (hiring, promotions, etc.). I have also reviewed about 40 years’ worth of scientific experiments related to gender.  

When it comes to the facts versus what’s reported in the media, there’s a substantial “gap” between the two (pun intended). The UK government admits that the gender gap does not measure equity… although you have to really look to find that statement on their web site.  

So, your job, again, has been made more difficult by the sensationalized media that are trying to create a popular story. It’s boring to say that tech companies do not have an any inequity and it’s boring to say that implementing analytics is a slow, steady climb. 

I won’t speak further about the topic of gender but I will say that the data I have analyzed over the past few years is very consistent with previously conducted scientific experiments on the topic. Perhaps government departments should have asked experts in the field before defining the metrics they wanted reported to the public. 

Half of Your Job is Deciphering the Truth 

The truth is that we won’t change the media. It will continue to be sensationalized for a variety of self-serving reasons. We can only add to our jobs the crucial task of deciphering whether what we’re reading matches what we see in our data.


Tracey Smith is a recognized analytics expert, speaker and author. She is the President of Numerical Insights LLC, a boutique analytics firm addressing the needs of businesses large and small. If you would like to learn more, please visit or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn.