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From employee satisfaction to financial performance, having a diverse and inclusive workplace can benefit all aspects of a business. But how do you know if the strategies you’ve implemented to improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) are helping your company move in the right direction?
To assess the effectiveness of your D&I strategies, you need to put systems in place to track them over time. Generally, this means monitoring a specific group of metrics. By using quantitative metrics to objectively evaluate your D&I program, you’ll be able to work towards creating a corporate culture that values each and every employee.
In this article, we’ll explore how tracking D&I metrics can benefit your business, as well as recommendations for which metrics you might want to track. We’ve also included a step-by-step plan for how to get started measuring D&I success in your company.
D&I—an acronym for diversity and inclusion—is a term that first became embedded into workplace training in the 1960s. But what exactly does D&I mean and what’s the difference between diversity and inclusion?
While diversity and inclusion are often used interchangeably—and they do, in fact, share several similarities—they are distinct concepts. One analogy often used to compare these two related terms is, “Diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Diversity and inclusion can be defined as follows:
Diversity refers to the representation of different demographics, backgrounds, opinions, and ideas. When you have diversity in the workplace, it means you have employees with varying characteristics. Aspects of diversity include but are not limited to gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation.
A diverse workforce should be a priority—but on its own it’s not enough. Employees also need to feel welcome, which leads us to inclusion.
Inclusion refers to a sense of belonging. Companies with inclusive cultures embrace diversity, value every employee’s unique perspectives and qualities, and make every employee feel they can bring their true, whole selves to work.
Diversity and inclusion are finally receiving the attention they deserve—and for good reason. Embracing D&I is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. Diverse companies are more likely to outperform their less diverse peers, and highly inclusive organizations generate 2.3 times more cash flow per employee.
But diversity and inclusion don’t happen by accident—they require a proactive, deliberate approach. The only way to make strides in D&I is by monitoring your efforts and tracking your progress over time. After all, there is truth in the old adage that you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Here are just a few of the benefits of measuring diversity and inclusion in your organization:
Seventy percent of job seekers want to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to D&I, and 42 percent of job seekers would actually turn down an offer of employment if the company lacked diversity or had no clear goals for improving diversity.
Today’s candidates are socially aware—and a potential employer’s commitment to D&I is a high priority for them. To attract the best people, you need to prove your organization has a robust, effective D&I strategy. By measuring and reporting on your D&I efforts, you can show potential candidates that D&I is more than a buzzword in your organization.
There’s also the financial aspect of D&I to consider. Companies with embedded D&I best practices are 35 percent more successful than their competitors. Measuring your D&I progress can help you understand how your company compares to top-performing companies.
For example, how diverse are your senior management and executive teams? Research shows that companies with racially diverse leadership perform better financially. Meanwhile, companies with leadership teams of at least 30 percent women outperform those with male-dominated leadership.
With social responsibility becoming more important, being able to prove you’re progressing towards your D&I goals is essential. Many companies may understand that diversity matters, but still fail to take meaningful action. Over time, this can damage your brand reputation.
By tracking your metrics and proving your ongoing commitment to D&I, you can enhance your brand image, improve customer satisfaction, and show the market that you’re dedicated to diversity and inclusion. After all, it’s not just employees who care about your D&I efforts—today’s consumers increasingly expect the brands they buy from to model diversity and inclusion.
Measuring D&I success can be challenging—there is no single, standard set of metrics for tracking the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion practices. But establishing and tracking a variety of D&I metrics can help you monitor progress and identify areas for improvement.
Here are a few of the most common categories of D&I metrics that can help you understand the impact of your diversity and inclusion efforts:
Sentiment metrics—sometimes called ranked method metrics—help you evaluate D&I success through the eyes of employees and key stakeholders. To capture these qualitative metrics, you may leverage surveys asking employees or job applicants whether they agree or disagree with specific statements about your company. Using a 5-point Likert scale that ranges from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree,” for example, you can quantify and track sentiment across different topics.
The specific statements you’ll ask survey respondents to rate will depend on your audience and what you’re trying to uncover. For example, you may ask employees to rate their feelings on statements like “I feel like I belong at this company” or “I believe everyone is respected equally at this company.” Meanwhile, you may ask job candidates to complete a post-interview survey asking if their time was respected or if they were given a fair opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities.
These metrics—which help you measure the progress of a workplace initiative aimed at improving D&I—are relatively straightforward to track. And since these metrics relate to specific initiatives, there is a wide variety of initiative-focused metrics that companies may use.
Depending on the initiatives you want to monitor, some metrics may be linked to your physical workplace, like the number of accessible entrances or percentage of gender affirming restrooms. Others could be linked to your employees, like the percentage of males taking parental leave, or the diversity of your employees versus your application pool.
Demographic metrics can be a useful indicator of D&I—but they should be used with caution. While demographic metrics can be easily measured, you can’t legally require the disclosure of this data. For this reason, demographic data should never be the only form of analysis used—but when used alongside other D&I metrics, it can offer helpful insights.
While there are many demographic dimensions—of both employees and job applicants—that you may choose to track, a few of the most common include:
These metrics can give you a broad overview of the impact of any diversity and inclusion initiatives. When you start collecting these metrics, bear in mind there may be an adjustment period as your organizational culture shifts to accommodate your new D&I initiatives. This may cause an initial dip before your metrics start to climb above previous levels.
You may decide to track revenue growth as it relates to changes in sentiment metrics or increases in company diversity. Brand sentiment can also be a good metric to track, and this data can be collected through social listening, external surveys, or public conversations.
Bear in mind though that correlation is not causation. Improving the diversity of your company may occur at the same time as a revenue increase, but there could be many potential factors at play.
With so many potential D&I metrics to track, where do you start? And which metrics are most important for your company? The answer is this: It depends. To determine the D&I metrics your company should be focusing on, you need to start with a clear understanding of your specific D&I goals. For example, are you looking to increase women in tech roles? Make your interview process more inclusive?
With a clear line of sight into your organization’s D&I goals, you can determine which metrics make the most sense to track. Your leadership team and key stakeholders should be involved with prioritizing the metrics that align with your business and D&I goals.
It can be overwhelming for even veteran D&I and HR leaders to decide on which D&I metrics to start tracking, but there is power in just starting. Considering only one-fifth of HR professionals believe their D&I programs are highly effective, even beginning to measure and report on some of the key indicators that mark D&I progress is a big step in the right direction. Remember, you can always add more metrics to track as your D&I initiatives grow and mature over time.
Once you’ve committed to making D&I improvements, it’s time to start tracking your progress. Here are a few ways to get started measuring D&I success:
The first D&I metrics you decide to measure should be closely linked to your company’s goals. That means the metrics you decide to track could look very different than those of another company. Your primary objective might be to improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS), while another company’s might be to increase the number of job applications from minority applicants. Use the advice we’ve outlined above to help you prioritize which metrics to track.
Once you’ve decided on which metrics to track, think about how you’re going to collect that data. This might take the form of a voluntary questionnaire attached to job applications, or asking your customer experience team to help you track NPS.
In addition, you’ll need to make sure your data policies give you the consent to collect sensitive data from individuals. Does your policy state how this data will be stored, and for how long? Any identifying data provided along with demographic survey data should also be removed.
After you’ve captured your first set of data, you’ll have a baseline—your current status. Once you know that, you can set targets and time limits for improvements. When it comes to these targets, it’s a good idea to involve both senior leadership and employee resource groups (ERGs). For example, if the overall diversity within your organization is broad, but that isn’t represented in your leadership team, you may want to dig a little deeper into whether all employees are offered equal opportunities for advancement.
With your data collected and analyzed, it’s time to make recommendations for improvement and report your findings. Recommendations may take the form of an action plan setting out measures to improve your metrics over time. After a set period, you can repeat your measurement process to track any improvements.
To keep the process as transparent as possible, it’s important to communicate your findings to the company as a whole, along with any targets you’re hoping to reach in the future. Diversity and inclusion metrics should be revisited at least bi-annually so you can track your progress. As you become more familiar with the process, you may decide to monitor additional metrics over time.
Measuring your D&I efforts is essential—but it shouldn’t stop there. After all, metrics without action are useless. In fact, tracking D&I metrics without the ability or urgency to drive change can actually be harmful to your business.
Once you have your metrics in place, it’s critical to develop specific action plans to respond to and improve those metrics. Are you finding a lack of diversity in the candidates that make it through initial interview rounds, for example? Implementing an interview intelligence platform is one way to create a more fair, equitable hiring process for all candidates.
The business case for D&I is compelling, but many companies are still struggling to make tangible improvements. And part of that comes down to a lack of data. If you don’t know how diverse or inclusive your company is, how can you start to make improvements?
Collecting tangible evidence in the form of metrics is the first step—but it’s only part of the puzzle. It’s only through understanding the wider story that these metrics tell about your business that you can start to build a corporate culture that’s based on open-mindedness and unequivocal support for all employees.
Schedule a demo or try for free for 30 days to discover how Clovers’ interview intelligence platform can help you meet your diversity targets, conduct more inclusive interviews, and develop a more equitable workplace in the process.