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DEI Metrics for Executives: What to Track and Why

DEI Metrics for Executives: What to Track and Why

March 2023


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Simply having a diverse workforce is not enough. We must strive to create an inclusive culture where all individuals feel valued, respected, and heard.

But this is no easy task because it requires conscious effort, a willingness to re-evaluate and reprioritize, and a commitment to making DEI an integral part of our organizations’ core values. It is a journey that requires corporate leaders to be humble, open-minded, and empathetic.

The benefits of this journey are, however, immeasurable. Numerous studies have shown that companies with diverse leadership teams experience significant financial benefits with companies in the top quartile for diversity in management being 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average.

DEI is also crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. More than 70% of job seekers report that they consider a company’s DEI success when screening job offers and vacancy advertisements. Organizations that don’t make an honest effort with their DEI initiatives are also more likely to struggle with retention—almost half of Black and Hispanic employees report that they have resigned from jobs where they were victims of or witnessed discrimination.

DEI builds trust with customers and stakeholders too, making organizations more likely to be seen as responsible and ethical, which, in turn, can boost investment and profits.

DEI Metrics You Should Be Tracking

There are nine main DEI metrics all organizations should keep an eye on. Doing so will give you a glimpse into whether your DEI initiatives are effective.

  1. Employee resource groups and affinity groups: Consider the number of employee resource groups (ERGs) and affinity groups within your organization, and the level of participation in them.
  1. Training and education: Examine the number of employees who have participated in DEI-related training and education programs.
  1. Demographic data: Analyze the diversity of the company’s workforce in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other factors.
  1. Representation data: Look at the percentage of underrepresented groups in different levels of the company, such as entry-level positions, management, and executive roles.
  1. Pay equity: Ask yourself whether there are any significant pay gaps between different groups of employees, like men and women or people of different races or ethnicities.
  1. Promotion rates: Analyze which different groups of employees are most often promoted within the company.
  1. Retention rates: Think about the rate at which different groups of employees stay with the company and whether there are any patterns relating to high turnover or tenure.
  1. Employee engagement and satisfaction: Examine how engaged and satisfied employees are with the company culture and their work environment.
  1. Diversity in recruitment and hiring: Pay attention to the diversity of the company’s applicant pool, and the number of candidates from underrepresented groups interviewed and hired.

Several talent management processes can be affected by conscious and unconscious bias, as shown in Figure 1 below. By tracking an organization’s DEI metrics, executives and managers can determine whether any of these processes are being impacted.

Figure 1.
Source: 2019 Gartner Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarking Survey

How to Measure Your Organization’s DEI Performance

Setting DEI objectives may seem simple, but most companies fall short when it comes to tracking their progress. Without data, it’s impossible to know how close an organization is to meeting its goals.

I suggest using one or more of these data-gathering exercises to gather more information about your organization’s DEI progress.

Employee and Customer Surveys

Surveys can serve as a mirror, reflecting the current state of DEI within a company. By surveying both customers and employees, you can gain an understanding of your DEI practices and identify areas that require attention and improvement.

When surveying customers, you can gain valuable insights into how well your company is serving diverse customer groups. Questions about the customer’s perception of your company’s inclusivity, and whether they feel welcome and respected, can reveal areas that need improvement.

Employee surveys provide valuable insights into your company’s internal DEI practices. Questions about your employee’s perception of your company’s commitment to DEI and whether they feel included and valued in the workplace can reveal issues within your company’s culture and policies that may be hindering DEI efforts.

It is important to remember that just conducting surveys is not enough. It is crucial to follow up on the results by creating an action plan and implementing changes. It is also vital to conduct the surveys periodically to track progress over time and make the necessary adjustments.

Employee Interviews and Focus Groups

It is important for corporate leaders to actively seek out and listen to the voices and perspectives of their employees. Employee interviews and focus groups can serve as powerful tools in this endeavor, providing executives and managers with valuable qualitative data on the lived experiences and perceptions of their employees regarding their DEI efforts.

Employee interviews and focus groups are different from surveys because they cannot be conducted anonymously. The removal of anonymity may affect the honesty of the answers, but the upside is that employee interviews and focus groups are face-to-face interactions in which an open dialogue can be created to delve deeper into any garnered insights.

Through one-on-one employee interviews, corporate leaders can dive into the unique experiences and perspectives of their employees, gaining a deeper understanding of any discrimination or bias they may have faced. They can also be used to gather suggestions for DEI improvements.

It is important to have a clear plan in place for the information you wish to gather and how you will use it. It is also vital to ensure transparency and employee involvement in the process by providing employees with information on how their responses will be utilized and how they can expect to be involved in implementing changes based on the feedback received.

Audits and Assessments

The word “audit” often strikes fear into the hearts of corporate leaders, but DEI audits are a force for good and shouldn’t be shied away from. DEI audits comprehensively consider an organization’s policies, practices, and procedures and how they impact diversity and inclusion. They are normally conducted internally, although they can also be conducted by an external consultant.

Assessments are a more targeted evaluation of specific DEI initiatives. Organizations may conduct assessments of their recruitment and hiring practices, for example, to determine if they are inclusive and fair. In addition to this, assessments can also be used to measure the effectiveness of DEI training programs and employee resource groups.

Audits and assessments are a win-win situation for everyone because the data gathered from them can be used to communicate the organization’s DEI efforts to stakeholders. This, in turn, can help to build trust and transparency and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to DEI.

The Best DEI Investment Your Company Can Make is Investing in Diverse Leadership

Diverse leaders are a vital investment for any company committed to DEI. With unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas, they drive innovation and change, while signaling a strong commitment to DEI to employees, customers, and stakeholders. Their leadership also helps to foster an inclusive culture in which they can serve as role models and inspire others to embrace diversity and equity.

At Stanton Chase, we understand the power of diverse leadership. Let us help you improve the diversity in your organization through executive search, leadership assessment, or succession planning. Click here to connect with one of our consultants.

About the Author

Valeria Cox has specialized in diversity, equity, and inclusion for the past 12 years. She is also a member of several local, regional, and global DEI organizations.

Prior to joining Stanton Chase, Valeria worked as General Manager for the Chilean Market Research Association and Corporate Development Manager for Mujeres Empresarias, a renowned organization that supports women’s leadership development in the economic and business world.

Click here to learn more about Valeria.

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