Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Measuring What Matters

In a new report, DHR Global addresses the limits of single factors for companies looking to gauge the success of their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Areas like talent development and culture, for example, drive meaningful change.

February 18, 2022 – Although metrics should never be the sole measure of success, they provide vital information on the effectiveness of the policies and programs implemented. They also offer essential clues on the steps that we can take to gain traction on equity and inclusion while broadening overall representation within the organization, according to Solade Rowe in a new report from DHR Global.

But what should you measure? DHR Global encourages companies to go beyond single measures of success that may not tell the whole story. DE&I efforts should go beyond hiring to include areas such as talent development and culture to drive meaningful change. Studies have also shown that there is a positive bottom-line correlation with a more diverse workforce; through a metrics-based approach tied to corporate strategy, companies can assess the fiscal impact of their inclusion programs.

DHR offers a brief list of some key metrics that you can use to assess the effectiveness of your DE&I efforts:

  • Recruiting and Candidate Courtship – This is a great place to start in measuring the effectiveness of your DE&I hiring initiatives, said DHR. For example, tracking the overall percentage of job applicants by level and functional area from underrepresented populations can provide clues about your current outreach efforts’ effectiveness and help you identify alternative channels for identifying a more diverse pool of prospective employees.
  • Employee Performance – Another key area that can benefit from a quantitative assessment is the overall profile of employee performance. Does the performance of underrepresented groups as measured through your organization’s annual performance evaluations and rankings generally track with the performance of your workforce as a whole? If not, it may indicate bias in the performance assessment process or tools used.
  • Employee Development – In looking at participation in your organization’s formal employee development initiatives such as training, coaching, or mentoring, does the percentage of employees from underrepresented populations match or exceed that of your overall workforce? Again, deviations in participation rates could indicate a gap in your assessment of skills versus potential. Or it could highlight the need for greater diversity in the employee development options that are available.
  • Employee Satisfaction – Many widely available tools can be used to measure employee satisfaction, including surveys and polls that measure employee attitudes about the organization’s culture or the extent to which they are engaged in their work, says DHR. If your organization uses such tools, conduct assessments completed by employees from underrepresented groups to identify any unique areas of concern that hint at DE&I-related disfunction, or point out any areas where improvements can be made.
  • Compensation – Many employees have experienced first-hand pay discrimination due to stereotypes based on gender, ethnicity, or other considerations. Comparing your organization’s compensation of employees from underrepresented groups with their colleagues in comparable positions can highlight disparities that diminish employee engagement and adversely impact your DE&I efforts.

“Of course, there may be other metrics that more closely reflect the dynamics and challenges that are unique to your organization and your efforts to build a culture that embraces the principles of DE&I,” the DHR report said. “But using quantitative tools to measure the actual impact of your DE&I initiatives should be an essential element in your efforts to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.”

Diversity Expert Discusses DEI

Craig Clayton serves as a managing partner and global DEI consulting practice leader for DHR Leadership Consulting. With more than 20 years of experience as a diversity and inclusion consultant, Mr. Clayton helps organizations leverage the increasing diversity of their workforce, workplace, and marketplace in tangible ways. He specializes in providing his clients with executive strategies and business practices that improve performance, productivity and profitability by creating culturally competent leaders and organizations.

Working with clients in all industries, Mr. Clayton has integrated learning and development into talent management processes and established diversity councils, business resource groups, supplier diversity programs and accountability models measuring the fiscal impact of workplace equity.

Mr. Clayton recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss DE&I and how organizations can diversify their workforces. Following are excerpts from that discussion.

Profile photo of Craig B. Clayton, Sr.
Craig Clayton

Craig, why is it critical for organizations to operate with a DE&I lens as they look to attract and retain talent?

In the United States, the workforce demographics have changed. As a result, having a DE&I lens is not an option; it’s a business necessity. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of 2020, over 75 percent of people entering the workforce in the United States are either women, immigrants, or people of color. Becoming diverse is inevitable. Becoming inclusive is a choice. As the competition for top talent increases, every aspect of the talent diaspora must have an inclusive lens. That includes strategic sourcing, selection, onboarding, high potential identification, succession planning, professional development and more.

With the Rooney Rule getting a lot of attention in the press, what do you feel is the best approach for organizations looking to become more diverse?

There are aspects of the Rooney Rule that provide value to the goal of diversification of the pipeline. The NFL has shown, however, simply diversifying the pipeline alone doesn’t work. Obstacles still exist in many organizations when creating equitable promotion, development, and staffing opportunities in the workplace. The ability to make a difference through the Rooney Rule still has value in corporate America. However, it requires more than presenting a diverse slate. It starts with a mindset of acculturation and not an expectation of assimilation. Without equitable hiring practices in the workplace, the playing field from which people are hired will remain uneven, with cognitive bias exerting undue pressure. With the changing talent pools happening globally, the Rooney Rule alone has limited impact. At best, it begins the journey to move your institutional hiring practices beyond tolerance, but barely.

“Numerous studies link the importance of company culture and performance. Moreover, as workforce composition changes and becomes increasingly diverse, culture reigns supreme. People want to be a part of an organization where they feel they are making a difference.”

Why is it important to have a strong company culture in today’s business climate?

Numerous studies link the importance of company culture and performance. Moreover, as workforce composition changes and becomes increasingly diverse, culture reigns supreme. People want to be a part of an organization where they feel they are making a difference. That sense of “belonging” is a crucial differentiator when joining an organization. The lack of that feeling can be a critical determinant in who leaves and when. Quitting and leaving have always been a problem for an organization. The bigger problem is when people quit and stay. As management guru Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy!”

Can you explain how DHR’s DE&I consulting services works with clients?

Our DE&I-specific client engagements fall into two primary categories. Projects: We assist with everything from helping organizations mitigate bias in their applicant tracking system and offering customized training for sales/marketing departments on selling in a multicultural setting, to working with race, gender, generational workforce challenges. Strategic Engagements: We also provide organizations quantitative and qualitative assessments, and we develop and/or modify institutional human capital strategies specific to workforce, workplace, or marketplace diversity goals.

Related: Evolving the Conversation Around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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