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Given the recent turn of events, many organizations such as Nike, Adidas, Twitter, have all come together to publicly condemn the issue of social injustice. Many are taking a strong stance against racism and discrimination, advocating for a diverse workplace where everyone is equally accepted and valued.
These are powerful and laudable messages being communicated; however, in the midst of it all, an interesting tweet (below) garnered lots of attention and sparks an important question we must all ask ourselves: How do we ensure that these messages go beyond surface level to be more than mere lip service?
The Answer: you measure it — we’ve heard it before, if you want to change something, you must first measure it. Just like how all of us will eventually step on the scale before we begin our pandemic weight-gain weight loss journey, to start changing towards the desired state, organizations must first gather meaningful data to generate actionable insights that will drive concrete interventions. Meeting diversity goals not only benefits employee well-being, but also organizational performance goals.
Decades of research has surfaced the robust link between diversity and organizational performance. This is because of several reasons, a few being that diverse teams make better decisions, are more creative and better at coming up with innovative solutions, and when people feel they are accepted for who they are, they can bring their whole selves to work, and are much more productive at what they do.
That is why we see that diverse companies are able to generate above-average returns.
Before we dive into how we can measure diversity and inclusion within organizations, we must first understand that they are two different concepts that may in fact be mutually exclusive.
You may, for example, have a very inclusive organization that is not at all diverse (as in everyone in the organization looks and thinks the same but everyone is included) or a very diverse organization that is not at all inclusive (everyone looks and thinks differently, but no one feels included).
Diversity is best measured by gathering demographic data in your organization. Most organizations with an HRIS can do this easily. This can also be done using a survey that measures inclusion, but I recommend adding this information at the very end so that it isn’t top of mind when employees are answering the survey, as they may feel hesitant to give their most honest opinions.
Inclusion can be measured by 5 different themes listed below, with one sample question for each theme:
“I believe that I am compensated equally as everyone else in my team.”
“My leader treats me and my team members with respect.”
“I believe my company actively looks for ways to ensure I am growing and developing in my career.”
“My manager cares my well-being on a personal level.”
“I am recognized and credited for the work that I have accomplished.”
After data is collected from your survey, it will help reveal whether your organization has an inclusive culture, overall.
However, if we want to get to the heart ❤ ️of the matter, the secret is to collate the inclusion data with the demographic data, which will further reveal whether certain groups within the organization have a different employee experience when it comes to inclusion.
This is a practice that a lot of organization do not consistently perform today, but one that is critical in order to surface problematic areas that may be hidden within the organization. Let me walk you through an analytic example.
Imagine a company wants to advance minorities into more leadership positions and has thus developed talent management programs to achieve this goal. Now imagine that several years later this company is not able to reach this goal, as not enough minorities are deemed ready within the pipeline despite diversity of candidates at the middle management level.
After analyzing the inclusion survey data, results show that overall scores for all employees trend upwards then level off gradually. At first glance the data really doesn’t tell us much.
We may see that minority employees are less likely to feel recognized, find meaning and growth at this level compared to their peers.
Now, if we take a deeper dive by collating diversity data with inclusion data, we may see that minority employees are less likely to feel recognized, find meaning and growth at this level compared to their peers. And if we really want investigate further, we may also throw gender into the mix to help get to the root of the problem.
We may also look towards other data sources such as attrition data to explain why there are not enough candidates in the pipeline for executive positions. Equipped with this information, the leadership team can then develop communication strategies and ensure that minority employees are involved in the decision-making process to prevent turnover, targeting areas with the lowest scores.
Over time, these interventions will ensure that there is a pool of qualified individuals ready to be promoted into executive leadership positions, and that all groups have an equal voice at the table.
By sharing these ideas and the example above, I hope that more leaders will take a second look at the existing D&I data, and where possible collate the different datasets to reveal deeper insights that help move the diversity agenda, especially at the leadership level.
I also hope that leaders will use this approach to clearly measure D&I in their organizations and identify the greatest opportunities to address the diversity gap and increase organizational performance while bringing everyone along the journey.