We have all seen tables of data on how many women, how many racial group members, how many older workers are employed by a company. Do these tables answer the question of whether companies are making a conscientious effort to employ and retain individuals that reflect the array of values and perspectives that are the foundation of our communities and our state? Can these tables tell us if they are merely seeking candidates who mirror their experiences and perspectives but simply have a different skin tone or gender?

Basic racial and gender demographic tables do not tell a full story but they can be a warning indicator of progress issues. They can be an indicator that our transformation toward a culture of diversity and inclusion lacks the aggression or ambition that companies with similar resources may have achieved. These data snapshots can also be an indicator that we are beginning to move the needle toward inclusion but not a definitive gauge that we have arrived.

That said, because there is not a single source to access all of the diversity and inclusion data available, I will provide a quick overview of a few sources from the data landscape relevant to Illinois that I personally have found helpful in diversity research. These resources provide a mix of baseline demographic data reporting and reporting on diversity and inclusion within companies and/or industries.


The Data USA website was created by a collaboration between Deloitte, Datawheel, and Cesar Hidalgo, Professor at the MIT Media Lab and Director of Collective Learning to analyze issues such as jobs, skills and education. This site provides a baseline overview of diversity data for Illinois on interesting features such as race, native languages, countries of origin, veterans and education.

Particularly interesting?
Rates on international births by country for Illinois residents.

Black Tech Mecca

Unleashing Chicago’s Black Tech Ecosystem: Assessing, Defining And Growing Chicago’s BTE
October 2017

This report is the result of a second wave of analyses conducted by the Black Tech Mecha organization which seeks to understand and ultimately enrich the Chicagoland Black tech ecosystem. It drives through diversity and into the realm of inclusion by showing data for the number of Blacks integrated both in tech organizations and in technical positions. In addition, it provides a longitudinal analysis that highlights a disturbing trend in the decrease of black tech involvement. This report complements their efforts to push advancement not only through data transparency but also engagement of key stakeholders. This would be a useful resource to have in every industry area.

Particularly interesting?
This report is not a standalone initiative, but part of an ongoing organizational strategy to advocate for greater rates of inclusion in the Chicagoland tech arena.

Open Diversity Data

The Open Diversity Data site created by Double Union (a hacker/maker space for women and nonbinary people in San Francisco) has the majority of content divided amongst the categories of technology and services. It does not include the actual data but the links to the websites of organizations that have made their data available.

Particularly interesting?
It includes the infrastructure to nominate other companies to release their data.

Census Data

The U.S. Census has a variety of data resources including the more recently developed tool, the Census Business Builder. By state, city, or other region, one is able to pull baseline demographic data on race, age, economic status, etc. The census data is a consistently good source for baseline data for individuals and businesses.

Particularly interesting?
The ability to look at both map data and to pull more in-depth reports.

Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES)

Women and Minorities in the Illinois Labor Force Annual Report 2016 Progress Report

The particular benefit of this report is the longitudinal demographic trends. Particularly interesting: demographics on Illinois union membership and the comparison of this data versus national rates.

Illinois Board of Higher Education Databook

Interested in the demographics and diversity of the Illinois future labor force? The Illinois Board of Higher Education releases data on the demographics of its enrollees and completers. This report allows you to see the significant enrollment and completion differences by race and gender at different types of institutions.

Particularly interesting?
For those targeting recruitment and/or partnership at educational institutions, it allows the ability to have targeted data on potential demographics at Illinois institutions.

Chicago United

2018 Inside Inclusion Featuring the Corporate Diversity Profile

This report reviews the status of diversity and inclusion progress in many Chicago corporations. It addresses demographic data including race, migration, and educational attainment of immigrants. This analysis is performed in alignment with Crain’s list data which is often considered a limited-bias resource for ranking companies. It also attempts to move beyond diversity to the matter of inclusion, analyzing board diversity.

Particularly interesting?
In addition to the wealth of data, a scorecard is provided to help support organizational self-analysis.

Chicago Tribune – May 24, 2018 article

“More women are landing seats on Illinois’ corporate boards, but pace of change is ‘glacial’”
Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz Contact Reporter

This Chicago Tribune article showcases a data table developed via a collaboration between Deloitte, The Chicago Network, and Chicago Tribune. It shows the gender demographics of the boards of Illinois corporations for top 25 companies in Illinois for market capitalization.

Particularly interesting?
This snapshot view makes one feel a little better about life in that the vast majority of companies appear to have increased their board representation by females since 2013.

About the Author

Maji Tharpe is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion advocate that works with workforce systems to disrupt the status quo and create change. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

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