Measuring Up: 4 Ways to Measure DEI Success

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) might seem like a “soft science” where feelings and emotions reign supreme.

DEI is, after all, a people-centered discipline. Nobody wants to be reduced to a number, but sometimes, focusing on the data and metrics can spur innovative strategies that foster a welcoming, inclusive environment.

Companies and organizations spend about $8 billion annually on DEI training in the U.S. alone, according to a study from McKinsey. At the same time, just 23 percent of HR professionals feel that their DEI programs are highly effective, per a report from HR.com

So where’s the disconnect? Money and resources are going in, but the employees closest to DEI initiatives aren’t noticing an impact.

The problem lies in measurement. 

The same HR.com survey found that just 25 percent of organizations measure DEI to a high degree. Organizations might have difficulty collecting data, choosing which metrics to follow, and most importantly, extracting meaning from these hard numbers. Company leaders that take steps towards effective DEI measurement can position their company with a diverse talent network and inclusive work environment.

How to Measure the Impact of DEI

We’ve outlined four ways to successfully measure the impact of DEI programs. Let’s dive in. 

1. Empower your entire organization

Traditionally, DEI data is only visible to human resources, DEI teams, and top-line management. Part of building an inclusive environment is making sure everyone is informed about the metrics that matter.

A great example of the impact of shared data is Ros Atkins, the presenter of a nightly news program at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). After each show, Atkins would share gender representation data for his shows with the entire broadcast team. Atkins’ philosophy was so successful that it helped inspire the 50:50 project, which aimed towards gender equality in media representation. 

Transparency can help employees feel included, and give them confidence to get involved.

2. Survey employees for feedback

Surveying your employee base is a great way to 1.) let colleagues know their voice is important and 2.) collect meaningful data that you can apply towards actionable insights.

Perhaps employees feel that your organization lacks opportunities for cross-generational mentorship. Maybe certain demographics feel that DEI efforts are adequate, while underrepresented populations like Black and Latinx employees don’t feel the same.

Surveys help you keep a pulse on your organization. Even consider asking about DEI in exit interviews so you can identify if your approach is driving anyone away from your organization.

3. Focus on the right metrics

So you have DEI data, but what does it mean? What numbers are insightful, and which are just noise?

Boston Consulting Group highlights five areas that provide meaningful insights:

Recruitment

Building a strong pipeline of diverse candidates sets a long-term DEI approach in motion. Consider the demographics of the candidates you consider.

Retention

Tracking attrition rate across departments and positions shows who feels included and comfortable in your work environment.  

Advancement

It’s not enough to have diversity at the low and mid-levels. Organizations must track promotion data to ensure that everyone has opportunities to grow their career.

Representation

Pay attention to demographic splits within departments. For example, a company might employ 50% women, but if the software development department only contains 10% women, the story is much different.

Pay

Analyzing compensation across demographics is a good way to observe how employees are valued for their work.

Always consider the context of the data you gather. Segment data by department, seniority level, etc. to get an accurate understanding of what you are measuring.

4. Start with small wins

Now you know some important metrics to follow. Defining success, however, is different for every organization.

The best way to move towards your DEI goals is to get started! Consider rolling out a small mentorship program as a starting point. Instead of getting the entire organization on board right away, focus on one office or one department. The sooner you begin, the quicker you’ll be able to gather feedback that helps you optimize your program. 

Mentor Spaces Can Help You Get Started 

Offering your employees a community for mentorship and DEI discussion is a great way for your company to build your talent pipeline, help underrepresented employees advance their careers, and provide visibility into your company’s DEI policies.

Mentor Spaces is a community-driven mentorship platform designed to help companies scale DEI efforts while advancing the careers of underrepresented talent. Our platform facilitates career conversations between experts and early career professionals to build confidence and social capital.

We enable companies to enhance brand, engage colleagues, and mentor historically marginalized populations to cultivate diverse talent pipelines. Organizations benefit from up to a 30 percent increase in employee retention, a 50 percent decrease in time spent on admin and talent sourcing, and a significant increase in employee engagement. 
Schedule a call with us to see how Mentor Spaces can help your company track towards DEI success.