In the past year, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has become top of mind for many executives. But, how do you know if you’re doing it right? See insight from DEI professionals on what you should be measuring and why.
Before You Start Measuring
The first step is to change your company’s mindset surrounding DEI. “Remove the notion that DEI is an ‘initiative,’ which implies it is temporary,” says workplace inclusion strategist Christie Lindor, CEO of Tessi Consulting.
“DEI is more a lifestyle change — and not a fad diet. That requires a laser focus on aligning DEI into business strategy,” Lindor says. “DEI concepts shouldn’t be seen as something separate but rather interconnected, core values that help drive everything done within the company.”
She adds DEI needs to be a “team sport,” with everyone playing a role in creating an equitable and inclusive organization — not just DEI executives or the HR department.
Next, have your DEI committee set benchmarks. That includes recording which applications your team uses, insights into the hiring process, current diversity in the workforce and more. With that baseline, you can easily figure out where you need to improve.
There are lots of areas you can measure. See the best places to start.
1. Dollars Allocated to DEI
While DEI is not all about the money, creating a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion takes funding. In fact, VentureBeat reports that 79% of businesses plan to increase their DEI investment in the coming year. Significant and consistent funding, coupled with tangible achievements, is one way to measure success.
2. Number of Diverse Employees Across the Organization
Companies often focus on pipeline initiatives, aimed to increase the number of applicants from underrepresented groups. However, this metric is not enough. More importantly, companies should measure what percentage of underrepresented candidates get hired.
To broaden the hiring process, you can post ads on sites that cater to the audiences you want to attract, like publications for minorities in business or job boards at historically Black colleges. You can also include language that specifically encourages applications from people who might not tick all the boxes.
Aim for workplace diversity that match the demographics of your country, in terms of ethnicity, gender, background and more. But be aware that diverse disabilities, gender identities, sexualities and even ethnicities aren’t always easy to categorize or see.
3. Percentage of Diverse Employees in Leadership Positions
If all your employees from underrepresented groups are in entry-level roles, your company isn’t getting it right. Look to champion diversity at every level of the organization — including senior leadership. In fact, diversity at the top has business benefits. If your leadership team includes people with different backgrounds and experiences, your company is more likely to perform better financially, according to McKinsey. Potential hires will also be looking at these metrics, as Glassdoor research reveals.
“This work doesn’t end until each and every person feels reflected in their leadership,” says Horacio Rozanski, Booz Allen Hamilton CEO and president. The technology company states that 8 of 9 leadership team members, and 8 of 11 board members are women and/or people of color.
As part of your push towards being more inclusive, ask yourself:
- How many people from diverse backgrounds are making it to leadership roles?
- How long is it taking them to do so?
- Is there a difference between the average career trajectory of white employees and other employees?
4. How Long Employees Stay with the Company
One of the best metrics of how your company is doing on DEI is increased retention and engagement, says Mylena Sutton, founder of employee training company Voltage Vista. If your employees from diverse backgrounds tend to stick around, it means that they’re happy and see opportunities within the company.
Retention is particularly telling in organizations lacking diversity. “In largely homogenous organizations, employee feedback…may not be reliable sources of information because people believe…that their feedback can’t be given anonymously and fear retaliation,” Sutton explains. “Therefore, their feedback shows up as their decision to leave, especially if they have options [at other companies].”
5. Number of Mentorship Programs and Hours Spent on Mentorship
Harvard Business Review points out that mentoring is a proven way to create more inclusive work environments, help employers meet their DEI goals and increase diverse representation in leadership. Leading companies offer mentorship programs designed specifically for minority employees. For example, Lyft offers a mentorship program to advance the careers of its Black and Latinx team members.
Michelle Crockett, chief diversity officer of law firm Miller Canfield, also recommends tracking the total number of hours mentors spend with mentees. That can help determine how often mentorship programs are utilized.
6. Number of Incident Reports
Do employees feel comfortable reporting racism and other -isms, microaggressions, hate speech and bullying? It’s important to note these incidents. You’ll want to see the numbers of reports decline each year, as your DEI training and strategy take root.
7. Participation In and Impact of DEI Training
While every DEI strategy includes some form of training, teams must make sure that sessions lead to organizational change. To measure impact, Lindor says, teams must discuss how the training will be assessed, reinforced and used on an ongoing basis after the session ends.
Gartner, a technology research and consulting firm, recommends that teams track employee and leadership participation, number of training courses offered and ratings of the different courses. See more suggestions in the Gartner’s DEI Metrics Inventory.
8. Employee Experience — From Anecdotes to Number of ERG Participants
Booz Allen Hamilton, voted one of the top companies for diversity, surveys its employees regularly to gauge the employee experience. Another way to keep a pulse on the employee experience is to track the numbers of employees participating in affinity groups or employee resource groups (ERGs).
Beyond qualitative data, employee anecdotes provide a valuable way to understand diverse employee experiences.
“When we ask employees if they feel included at work and if they see themselves represented in leadership, when we see consistency in a majority of the responses from employees across gender, age, race, location, departments, etc…we know we are working with an organization that is truly leading with DEI,” says Lindor. This work doesn’t end until each and every person feels reflected in their leadership.
9. Senior Leadership Buy-in and DEI Achievements
In rolling out a DEI strategy, leadership commitment and accountability are key. “Organizational development and human resources leaders must be aligned,” Sutton explains. “HR needs to help leaders hold the organization accountable for living real values and translating that into performance measurements.”
According to Gartner, leadership commitment can be gaged by the percentage of leaders sponsoring a resource group, leadership attendance at DEI events and DEI achievements within each leaders’ teams.
Next Steps in Measuring Your DEI Strategy
After identifying your DEI goals and the key metrics you want to measure, the next step is to record both benchmarks and goals in a DEI score card. This can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet with a line for each metric. PowertoFly offers a sample scorecard you can use to get started. Review goals and DEI metrics periodically and share the data with your employees for feedback on whether you’re moving in the right direction.