The CIPD, in collaboration with Warwick Business School and the University of Kansas School of Business, has been investigating if and how investors use people data to help inform their investment decisions. The CIPD investigated academic and practice/consultancy literature to see how people data is being used to inform investment decisions. This paper is designed to help researchers define new strands of research investigating how people data can support better corporate governance and investor stewardship.

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Our research, The intangible workforce: do investors see the potential of people data? draws a number of key conclusions that are useful for senior HR, investor and academic community members. The key findings from the research show that:

  • There is a lack of understanding in published literature about how investment decisions using human capital / people data work in practice; very little research has been conducted which shows if and how investors use HR insights to understand risk and opportunity. 

  • A number of different biases affect how investors prioritise different types of intangible data, meaning that people data is less likely to be considered when making investment decisions. 

  • Issues with people data, including poor quality, reduced visibility and high levels of complexity, mean that investors are less likely to use the information when making investment decisions. 

  • Mainstream investors (securities analysts) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investors use people data differently, and as such may want different types of information from organisations they’re working with. 


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