The Co-op data team took home the Best Data Ethics and Privacy Programme at the DataIQ Awards. Claire Hadfield, data governance analyst at the Co-op explains how they engendered a culture of trust and what the win means for her and her team.
The Co-op has a vision to be “trusted with data”. Why is this so important?
It was at our AGM back in 2016, when we reiterated our aspiration to be more trusted with data. This was made up of three things: integrity, transparency and meaningful consent.
We are aware that trust is subjective to the individual and there is no one size fits all.
Therefore in the current climate, where consumers are more aware of how the data about them is collected and used by organisations, trust is becoming the new currency, once you lose it, it’s really hard to gain back.
How has the Co-op worked with the Open Data Institute and used Data Ethics Canvas tool?
We first partnered up with the Open Data Institute back in 2017 to support us with our vision to be “trusted with data”. On the journey towards this aspiration, we had many conversations internally and externally around what this means and how we can work towards this. Whilst we have policies, standards and processes in place, we knew we wanted to look at how we can engage with colleagues in a more open and creative way. So as we continued our partnership with the ODI into 2018, we started to use the Data Ethics Canvas which is an open source tool created by the ODI. This tool frames 15 topics across data management, protection and security.
We have been using the canvas in our Digital division with delivery teams who are iteratively designing and building our new digital products and services. This has meant that right from the get-go, these teams have been able to identify potential ethical issues associated with the data they are using or coming into contact with on their project.
We have completed the canvas with a number of teams throughout 2018/19 and have now begun to roll this out more broadly for the wider group in the latest iteration of our change management programme.
We have started to look at the next iteration of the data ethics canvas and incorporating data architecture into this as a Design Canvas to support new initiatives going through an alpha stage.
To embed ethics, policies and processes need to be understandable and approachable. To ensure this practical help and support around data ethics is delivered alongside training and awareness. How does this happen?
Earlier this year we wrote a Data Ethics Policy which is designed to supplement the existing data policies we have at the Co-op, which already provide the regulatory and legal requirements. This policy provides a series of high-level data ethics principles for the Co-op to guide colleagues on making sensible decisions with data.
As well as a policy, we have written blogs which have been published internally and externally, and spoken at a number of events in Manchester, Leeds and London to talk about our work around data ethics and why it is important at the Co-op.
As a data management team, we have been facilitating workshops with project teams to complete the data ethics canvas.
An open workshop approach was used. What is involved in this?
We have found the best way to run these workshops is to get the whole project team into the room, with the scope already agreed beforehand so everyone is clear on the ask. We also invite colleagues from Data Protection and Information Security to attend as it’s really important to have all specialists together to demystify any of the technicalities and cover all areas in the same session.
We ban technology at the sessions, so no phones or laptops. This is to encourage interaction and engagement across the team without any distractions. The ideal space to complete the canvas is away from desks so we put the 15 different topics up on the wall and use Post-It Notes for each section, ensuring we time the topics so we cover all areas within the usual 90 minute timeslot.
The outcome from the workshop is that our Delivery Leads and Product Owners understand what actions need to be taken so that they can make sensible decisions, balancing the value opportunities against our risk appetite to ensure that the Co-op is trusted with data.
What has the Co-op learnt since implementation began in Feb/Mar 2018?
We have learnt that here at the Co-op we are already having the right conversations around working ethically. Using the workshop has taught us to bring the conversation together and enable us to involve the right people at the right time to build those relationships between data specialists and project teams.
We are also aware that the phrase ‘data governance’ can invoke imagery of the data police and can perhaps build a perception that governance can be a bit of a blocker and slows down work. We’ve heard the term ‘data ethics’ used interchangeably with governance as it is a term more relevant to our colleagues understanding and working practices. It’s a small pivot, but can make such a difference in engagement with us as a data team and shows we are here to help and not slow you down.
What does winning the best ethics and privacy programme mean?
Winning Best Data Ethics and Privacy Programme award is a real reflection of the Co-op, especially in recent years. It validates our thinking about ethics at design rather than retrospectively which directly aligns back to our values.