The Co-op has a vision to be “trusted with data”. To support this, the data team has pioneered an approach to data ethics for new products and services to reflect its vital role in the business and growing customer awareness of how their data is being used. Its success has seen it openly shared with other co-operatives, as well as peers across the public, private and third sectors.
To embed ethics within an organisation, policies, standards and processes need to be understandable and approachable, especially in fast-moving environments. To ensure this, practical help and support around data ethics is being delivered alongside training and awareness.
The Data Ethics Canvas tool, designed by the Open Data Institute, was trialled and then implemented among multi-disciplinary teams which design and build digital products and services. This is a challenging space to govern, but the tool provides a framework of 15 topics which are each discussed with specialists as part of a scrum team.
This open workshop approach has been cathartic allowing concerns to be aired before projects move forward confident that the ethical dimension has been addressed. Internal demand has led to the creation of a user guide to allow for roll-out across the Co-op and input to the next release of the ODI framework.
Data ethics are now being considered at the heart of digital product and service development without the pushback often experienced by data governance. It empowers teams to take a balanced view based on the value of an opportunity compared to the risk - retail insight and franchising teams are now trialling the framework, while the Chester Zoo data team has also been supported in its own customer data system changes.