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In the recent past, business leaders treated diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as an afterthought. However, the tides are clearly shifting: Calls for justice for victims of police brutality — including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake — have made the quest for diversity and equity in the workplace a collective one.
Companies have begun to spring into action. Many have appointed dedicated DEI officers and designed anti-racism trainings. Tough conversations are happening, the concept of bringing your “whole self” to work is gaining traction and organizations are openly voicing their commitment to “doing the work.” But when it comes to diversity initiatives, there’s still a significant piece of the puzzle missing: the measurement portion.
Charting DEI efforts
Here’s the question every company must answer: What are the goals of your diversity initiatives? To gain traction and affect institutional change, these initiatives must be tied back to the business as a whole. DEI efforts can be linked to higher satisfaction for both employees and clients.
Now that we understand that goal, what metrics should we use to judge performance? Similar to a basketball coach, we can’t wait for the end of the game to measure success. During a game, a coach considers rebounds, second-chance points and free-throw attempts as leading indicators to predict success — business leaders must work similarly to produce effective results.
With that, let’s look at some leading indicators for DEI success (as well as some suggestions for how to measure them):
1. Representation is a necessary first step
As companies publish more DEI numbers, we’ve learned a collective lesson: Far too many businesses aren’t organized enough to solve current and future challenges. Having unique perspectives join together results in better problem-solving overall. But that requires representation first.
In its purest sense, representation is the percentage of employees on your team from underrepresented groups. This might be people of color, folks with disabilities or another minority group. As you build out your strategy for growth, think about the diverse skill sets you need at all levels of the organization to reach your goals.
2. Take a look at your recruitment efforts
Recruitment is the door to your organization, and making it wider is a massive step toward increasing diversity and inclusion in your workplace. As you build your diversity plan and grow your client base, be deliberate about interviewing diverse talent. For example, Hilton set a goal to have 50% diverse candidates considered for open positions.
A good way to measure recruitment is by comparing the number of applicants for open positions from targeted groups against the overall applicant pool. This metric will help you identify areas to improve, but you’ll need to add nuance to make it count. Pair this analysis with a qualitative cultural assessment. What does it feel like to walk into your organization?
3. Find ways to measure and increase retention
Another useful method for measuring inclusivity is to compare the average tenure for employees from targeted groups with the average tenure across the workforce. In many cases, you want to measure this across leadership and departments so you can track variance within the organization.
Measuring retention will hopefully allow you to identify reasons why some minority colleagues leave. To improve this metric, you’ll actually have to make your workplace a welcoming environment. Do you have programs in place for minority hires to hone their professional skills (such as mentorship or career development programs)?
4. Carefully examine pay, benefits and promotions
While recruitment and retention drive representation, pay, benefits and promotions drive retention. It’s a circular relationship, and you want to invest in all of it. Look at Black women in the workplace, for instance, and you’ll see a clear story of inequality: On average, they’re paid just 63 cents for every dollar a white man earns. By making pay, benefits and promotions core metrics, you illuminate this common area of discrimination.
Compare financial and nonfinancial rewards earned by individuals from targeted groups to the rest of your organization. Then, consider how you can invest in keeping your talent.
Measuring the above metrics provides a great starting point, but be sure to measure your progress a year from now. Has your client base grown as a result of your DEI investments? Is your investment aligned with market growth areas? You’ll be able to take things one step further and ladder your diversity and inclusion goals to business goals.