When building an effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy for your organization, part of the process is setting intentional goals. For any organizations continuing to build upon or starting out their DEI efforts, benchmarking the right data will keep your organization on track and accountable.
Since the pandemic, DEI become a key piece of many organizations’ strategies for retention and employee engagement. And while overarching goals may seem immeasurable (building an inclusive space, welcoming individuals to bring their authentic selves, creating a sense of belonging in your work culture), data tied to engagement and other important metrics can spotlight issues you might be missing on the surface.
Additionally, a metrics-driven approach is great for empowering HR professionals and people management teams to set concrete goals, develop their C-suite, and be more transparent with your team overall.
Remember, building an inclusive workplace means creating a sense of belonging for diverse groups, and it’s completely possible to measure the effectiveness and success of your policies, strategies, and resources.
So before you set your DEI goals for the upcoming year, take a look at the 10 key metrics you should track.
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What are DEI metrics?
Assessing key metrics is a way to benchmark your DEI initiatives and inclusion efforts.
Committing to DEI is an ongoing effort that requires continually assessing your organization’s practices and policies, along with your own DEI goals. This can take into account anything from reviewing diversity in leadership roles to accessibility initiatives in your workplace.
Looking at certain metrics will help you measure progress, be transparent in your efforts, and stay accountable to your goals.
Julie Katz, a highly-acclaimed TEDx speaker and inclusive leadership trainer, joined a recent Cooleaf webinar to share the importance of metrics.
“When people say DEI is a ‘nice to have,’ there’s so much data to support that it’s a must-have,” shared Kratz. “Not only as a trend but outcomes for diverse teams. Innovation, revenue, profitability. The more connected you are and the reflective you are of the communities you serve, you’re going to be more relevant.”
During the webinar, Kratz posed this key question to the group– “Why do you need a DEI strategy?”
Planning and looking at the right metrics can help HR professionals gain insight into their current work while surfacing opportunities for the upcoming year.
How to use DEI metrics for your strategy?
Whether your organization is starting anew or revisiting an existing DEI strategy, it’s important to assess where your organization stands before you create your roadmap.
DEI assessments, or just hosting listening sessions with employees are excellent for gathering data and setting a baseline before setting goals. While DEI programming and education are great for employee engagement and providing your people with the resources they need, according to Kratz, “Systems and processes are really the pinnacles of diversity work.”
DEI means looking at everything, from the hiring process to the performance review process, employee retention, and attrition.
Creating and supporting DEI means you’re not only educating hearts and minds on the team but reviewing foundational processes for unconscious bias too.
Review diversity data and engagement trends to set your baseline. Review the data with your organization’s ERGs and management for opportunities to dig deeper. Then set your goals and be transparent about how you’ll move the needle forward to create change.
Access Cooleaf's free recorded DEI strategy session with expert strategist, Julie Kratz of Next Pivot Point!
To get you started, here are 10 DEI metrics and initiatives to look at as you set your goals for the upcoming year.
1. Representation in the organization
Look at the demographics of your organization to get a representative look at your people. What does race and ethnicity representation look like? What does gender identity representation look like?
In order to represent the world we live in, your numbers should reflect the same diversity that’s all around us. Now, break that down in terms of leadership or tech and non-tech roles.
Assessing how diverse your team is will help you identify where to start and highlight any issues or biases built into your organization. For example, less diversity in tech roles might signal that your hiring team needs unconscious bias training or should partner with underrepresented community groups when looking for hires.
Does your job listing include ways you can support accessibility? Are there mentorship programs targeting underrepresented groups within your organization?
Remember, in order to create an inclusive, diverse, and equitable environment, your organization should look at different structures in place and how to foster a welcoming environment for everyone. This can be anything from celebrating diverse holidays throughout the year with a DEI calendar or reviewing hiring practices.
Initiatives: Be transparent about your DEI goals and openly encourage your team to show support and intentionality to diverse communities within your organization. Look at examples from organizations like Google that openly share their mission to build a sense of belonging.
When it comes to hiring, ask yourself how you can put DEI at the center of your hiring process.
In terms of metrics, look at the demographic data of new hires within the last year and the demographics of hiring panels to assess where you’re sourcing candidates from.
Look back through where you’re placing job listings from Linkedin to other audience-focused websites. Make a conscious decision about where you send recruiters and track the diverse universities or underrepresented programs your hiring team sets to attend in the next year. Expand your reach: partner with HBCUs for intern opportunities or attend networking events hosted by AAPI organizations in different cities.
Equitable and inclusive spaces are growing in importance for job seekers too. According to Glassdoor in 2020, 76% of employees prioritize diversity when looking for new roles, and that number continues to increase as Gen Z continues to join the job market.
Initiatives: Remember, the hiring process sets expectations around your employee experience. Set a goal for where you’ll look for clients. Partner with employee resource groups (ERG) to learn more about how you can make the interview process more inclusive and accessible.
Review your current process to ensure that your practices are equitable. Look over the wording of job listings. You can also take a pulse survey following three months of onboarding to gut-check your process.
3. Retention rate
General employee retention is a great metric to assess whether your organization’s mission, message, process, and culture resonate with people. A low retention rate signals red flags, whereas a high retention rate tells you your organization is getting things right in terms of what speaks to your organization.
Diversity metrics within that retention rate can help you assess whether your organization is currently providing the resources, support, and inclusivity it promises toward underrepresented groups.
High attrition rates of certain demographics show that a community might not be comfortable or feel empowered at your company.
In fact, according to Glassdoor, 47% of Black and 49% of Hispanic job seekers and employees have quit a job after witnessing or experiencing discrimination at the workplace, which is notably higher when compared to the 38% rate among white job seekers and employees.
Take Action: Looking at these metrics, your organization can ask itself how it can support your underrepresented communities better. Whether that’s providing clear support and resources for circumstances of discrimination or providing channels where they can feel empowered. Host stay surveys, assess leadership’s DEI training, and empower your ERGs so there’s a safe space for someone to communicate if they need.
How will retention rates be impacted in the coming year? Download Cooleaf's free 2023 trend report to find out.
4. Representation in leadership
“Think of the most diverse teams you’ve been a part of. Didn’t they have more ideation and innovation?” Kratz said at the Cooleaf webinar.
Representation in leadership can powerfully impact your workplace culture and even profitability at your organization. However, diverse representation within leadership teams still needs a push.
As of 2022, Mckinsey reports that there are only four Black CEOs (1%) and 41 women CEOs (8.1%) holding seats in Fortune 500 companies, which isn’t reflective of U.S. demographics. A more accurate representation would be sixty Black CEOs holding titles within Fortune 500 companies to reflect the 12% population density of Black America. A stark contrast.
Take a look at the demographics on your leadership team and assess how many people from diverse backgrounds moved up to leadership positions. Men are disproportionately represented at the managerial level; only 87 women for every 100 men are promoted to managerial positions. Ask yourself if this is true within your organization and consider surrounding factors. How long does it take for someone to be promoted? Are certain demographics moving up faster than others? Is there mentorship support? Is it only in one specific department? Asking critical questions can help hone in on where you can affect change.
Take Action: Despite the best intentions Black and underrepresented employees often face systemic inequity in terms of hiring practices, compensation, and retention. As you assess your leadership, think through how you can ensure more equitable processes and how you can discover untapped talent. Partner with your ERGs or take blind surveys to capture lived stories of other groups, so you can ensure there’s foundational change.
5. Representation in partners and vendors
Organizations like Salesforce champion supplier or partner diversity with their DEI efforts. This means that Salesforce recognizes and supports businesses that are operated by LGBTQ+, veterans, women, or persons with disabilities, along with Black- or minority-owned businesses. They also partner with several organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to help ensure they’re intentionally working with diverse partnerships.
In the same way that you assess the demographics of your organization to ensure your hiring practices are accessible to various communities, look towards your vendors, contractors, or even speakers for your events. Think: Where are you listing these contracts? What processes or parameters are required for any partner you work with?
Take Action: Supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs is a positive, impactful way to support diverse communities anywhere. Actively set out to diversify your partnerships by assessing your current contracts and seek to work with organizations like the NGLCC to keep you accountable.
Creating an inclusive workplace means providing the tools and resources that welcome and support various groups within your company. This means not only looking at your processes for foundational inequities but also looking at your workplace setup and how it can support populations with disabilities.
Creating accessibility is important for any organization, whether you’re in-person, hybrid, or remote. For instance, an office should provide easy physical access for all employees on the floor, along with comfortable bathrooms and parking. A remote work set-up should include relevant equipment, screen readers if needed, and any additional accommodations or set-up for virtual meetings or even day-to-day chat apps like Slack.
Also, be sure to assess accessibility in your hiring and onboarding process.
Take Action: Review accommodations and needs with your employees and provide clear communication where employees can reach out if needed. You can also work with a firm or outsourced expert who can provide a score of what additional accommodations and policies your organization require.
7. Employee satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is a great way to track the success and engagement of your organization’s work toward inclusive culture. More importantly, digging into which groups are expressing satisfaction and those that are reporting lower satisfaction can alert you to disparities within your company culture.
Using certain surveying tools, like on Cooleaf, you can offer anonymity while tracking demographics in order to assess results and discover groups who need your support.
Take Action: You can track employee satisfaction through an employee net promoter score (eNPS). Make sure your survey approaches topics like microaggressions, comfort at work, and if your people feel a sense of belonging or appreciation at your organization.
8. Employee Resource Group Engagement
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a wonderful way to empower your organization and support each individual’s most authentic self. As your organization pushes for DEI progress, your ERGs can support facets from recruitment, retention, and more depending on your organization’s goals. More importantly, tracking the engagement of ERGs can ensure groups are accessing the resources they need.
ERGs will set their own goals within your workplace ecosystem, so work closely with your ERG leadership to set expectations and collaborate on your DEI goals overall. This might look like providing groups with the right tech and tools, funding for events, access to senior leadership, and time. ERG goals can be anywhere from hosting key events or educational opportunities, hosting talks on certain topics, or addressing processes within the organization.
Take Action: Work closely with your ERGs to align on goals for the year or quarter. For example, this might look like adapting your referral process to ensure you target underrepresented communities. If that’s the case, you would look at your onboarding numbers and tie that back to your ERG’s success. You can also assess the engagement of the ERG itself and target pulse surveys or listening sessions with group members to track satisfaction or experience.
9. Pay equity
According to the Department of Labor, women are often paid 83% of what men make or 83 cents to every dollar a man earns. Analyzing pay disparities within your organization will help you recognize potential gaps in your pay practices and design solutions to help them.
Organizations like Microsoft offer full pay transparency within the organization and in job ads and many states like New York and Colorado incorporated pay transparency into their legislation.
Other opportunities to review equal work for equal pay include bonuses, salary increases, and leadership salaries. This data exists in terms of existing employees, so diving into these metrics can help you assess where you can progress further.
Take Action: Dive into the diversity data to assess wage gaps or increases. Offer salary transparency for job listings, even internal opportunities. Offering pay equity and financial education resources for employees so they can make smarter, more informed decisions.
Establish your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan with DEI in mind. Corporate purpose is a way to live your values and promote equity and inclusion with what communities and non-profits your organization impacts. Often, it starts at the top and influences those within the organization to learn and embrace the same values through good work and meaningful contributions.
Contributions can be donating time like volunteer work or mentoring. This can look like donating your skills to a cause or making monetary or material donations fundraised by your team and matched by your organization.
Incorporate DEI by assessing your organization’s values and matching them with non-profits you can work with and support throughout the year. You can encourage remote teams to volunteer in their city with that non-profit’s chapter. You can also support underrepresented communities throughout the year for national months and holidays, like donating to LGBTQ+ organizations for the month of PRIDE.
Take Action: Look at what non-profits or organizations you partner with to uncover which communities are positively impacted by your involvement. With Cooleaf, individuals receive employee recognition for hard work or for embracing their company's core values. Recognitions translate to points that employees can redeem as a donation towards charities aligned with your purpose, like the Center for Civil Rights, Habitat for Humanity, and CARE International.
Get Started on Your DEI Metrics
Promoting racial equity and inclusion in your workspace means embracing your organization’s space and influence. As an organization, you have the power to positively influence and empower your people with a DEI strategy driven by the right metrics.
Review your data. It’ll share a deeper story of where you can prioritize for the upcoming year and set you on a course for success.