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The People & Culture Platform | Culture Amp
Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Writer, Culture Amp

Now more than ever, corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts are under a microscope - and companies are taking notice of that mounting pressure. Gartner’s research found that the number of HR leaders who cited DEI efforts as a top priority was 1.8 times higher in 2020 than in 2019.

But, when it comes to measuring diversity, equity, and inclusion, finding the right numbers is challenging. You don’t want to set arbitrary quotas or send the message that you’re making token hires. Yet, quantifiable goals increase accountability - and even success.

In fact, Deloitte states that “the setting of specific diversity goals … is ... one of the most effective methods for increasing the representation of women and other minority groups.” And another Gartner survey found that “setting goals and tracking DEI progress through metrics” was one of two top priorities for DEI leaders in 2021.

The secret to mastering the tightrope walk of measuring diversity, equity, and inclusion lies in identifying the most impactful DEI metrics for your organization to focus on. Below are a few DEI metrics to consider if your organization is making meaningful progress on the numbers that matter most to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DEI metrics focused on the employee lifecycle

When it comes to measuring diversity, equity, and inclusion, demographic data plays a huge role. The Harvard Business Review reported that organizations that collect in-depth workplace demographic data are better equipped to craft inclusive cultures than those that don’t.

However, this goes beyond the composition of your existing team. The most equitable and inclusive organizations monitor demographics across the entire employee lifecycle, including the following areas:

1. Hiring

When evaluating diversity in hiring practices, companies should turn their attention to two different areas:

  • The diversity of their applicant pool
  • The diversity of their hiring panel

Paying attention to the demographic data in both of these categories helps you ensure that you’re attracting diverse candidates from various backgrounds, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, religious backgrounds, and more. Further, a diverse hiring panel helps prevent unconscious bias in the hiring process and can lead to more well-rounded hiring decisions.

2. Representation

Organizations that want to improve the representation of historically underrepresented groups need to understand where they’re starting. There are several ways to do this, including using diversity and inclusion surveys to collect employee feedback.

You can also leverage demographic data to identify which groups are currently underrepresented at your organization or perhaps even missing entirely. As you go through this process, remember that many people’s identities and experiences are intersectional.

Once you collect data on representation, you can use the data as a baseline when analyzing other DEI metrics.

For example, are you attracting a diverse group of candidates into your hiring pipeline but find that your team is still homogenous? That’s a sign that there could be some bias cropping up in the hiring process. Or, are the members of your organizations relatively diverse, but you notice that participation in ERGs is surprisingly low? That number could represent the tip of the iceberg of a deeper cultural problem.

3. Retention

Organizations that genuinely prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t just want to attract diverse talent - they want to embed those values into the company culture and keep those employees engaged and committed.

When monitoring DEI, it’s essential to take a close look at your employee turnover and attrition. Are employees from certain groups or backgrounds leaving at a higher rate than others? It’s an indicator that those employees don’t feel a true sense of inclusivity and belonging on your team. Fortunately, there are solutions out there that can help you predict attrition, pinpoint problem areas, and reduce turnover.

4. Advancement

Lately, there’s been a lot of emphasis on diversity in leadership. However, even outside the C-suite, organizations should monitor the data about which employees are climbing the ladder within the organization.

Is there a lot of demographic similarities between the employees who get promoted? Are employees of all groups and backgrounds taking advantage of learning and development opportunities? Remember, an organization that’s genuinely committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion doesn’t just get diverse employees through the door - they help them thrive.

DEI metrics focused on the employee experience

Often, the employee experience is far more challenging to quantify than demographics when measuring how a company is doing with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Fortunately, the most helpful information comes from an often untapped resource: employees.

Organizations can learn a lot about how valued, included, and supported employees feel by conducting frequent surveys and collecting feedback on the employee experience. Throughout it all, organizations should keep a close eye on the following employee experience diversity metrics:

5. Job satisfaction and engagement

In your employee engagement surveys, take note of which employees indicate a high level of satisfaction in their roles and which ones aren’t.

For example, are there some common threads between employees who rate their job satisfaction and engagement poorly? If so, it might be time to step back and evaluate if there’s a more significant cultural issue, like microaggressions, making those employees feel less supported and included.

6. Employee resource group (ERG) participation

ERGs give employees from various backgrounds and groups an opportunity to feel a stronger sense of belonging within an organization.

If there are established ERGs at your organization, you should evaluate the participation rate in those groups. If it’s lower than expected, it’s critical to dig in and determine why employees feel reluctant to join an ERG. This is also an ideal opportunity to see if there are other ERGs worth establishing.

7. Accessibility

People are at the core of diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, to complete the inclusivity part of the puzzle, it’s essential to confirm that you’re cultivating a workplace and a culture where every employee feels welcome.

Here are just a few questions to ask yourself when considering accessibility at your organization:

  • Do all employees have a comfortable place to use the bathroom?
  • Do you offer adequate parental leave (not just maternity leave) and space for breastfeeding mothers?
  • Do you have screen readers and other equipment for employees with disabilities?
  • Do you recognize all types of cultural holidays?

As you ask these questions, monitor, and analyze data relating to your facilities, benefits, accessibility, and overall culture to ensure there’s equity for all employees.

DEI metrics focused on the company makeup

Diversity, equity, and inclusion can feel a bit like smoke and mirrors as companies scramble to keep up appearances and fulfill lofty diversity promises they made in social media posts and press releases.

As said before, organizations are under a microscope. So, while data about your hiring practices, employees, and workspaces carry a lot of weight, you also need to zoom out on a few key (and potentially public) areas of your company as a whole.

8. Leadership

As referenced earlier, it’s becoming increasingly clear that diversity in company leadership is beneficial for organizations - not just for saving face and avoiding public relations crises but also for boosting the bottom line. A McKinsey analysis found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on the leadership team were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Of course, it’s not enough to just focus on women when addressing diversity.

Use your demographic data to look specifically at your company’s leadership. Do you have diversity in your C-suite? Managers? Board members? If not, your organization should prioritize diversity in at least some of these critical roles.

9. Suppliers

Finally, you can’t just look at who your organization hires. You also need to evaluate who you collaborate with to ensure that bias isn’t sneaking into that selection process.

Are you using diverse suppliers or giving underrepresented businesses a chance at a vendor relationship? Do you have varied speakers for different educational sessions and seminars? Your company can benefit from those different services, approaches, and points of view.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure

DEI metrics are somewhat of a hot-button issue. However, it’s difficult for a company to improve its diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies if they don’t know where they’re starting or what they’re working toward.

The key is to focus on the most helpful numbers for measuring diversity. Remember, the metrics don’t exist to tell the whole story. Instead, you should think of them as a tool to help you better understand and prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can then utilize that information to cultivate a culture where all of your employees feel like they belong.

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