Diversity impact measurement Diversity impact measurement should be the first thing an organization examines before  spending time and energy to implement new programs or deciding which  existing programs to keep.  This  is easier said than done.  The majority of the organizations we have analyzed struggle with diversity impact measurement.  Here are five tips which will help improve diversity impact measurement efforts.

1. Diversity impact measurement requires relevant metrics tied to purpose

The key to diversity impact measurement is to understand what drives an organization.  Diversity and inclusion initiatives need to share how they will impact the organization's purpose.  Without this clear link, the measurement may be something that doesn't impact the organizations bottom-line.

For Educational institutions the view may be split into: 1) Student life, and 2) Administration.  For student life, you may define organizationally relevant metrics to be:

  1. Lower adverse incidence rate on campus awareness
  2. Better prepared graduates who have a high degree of cultural competence and readiness to enter global careers.

For the business or  administrative side of an educational institution, you may consider employee morale and turnover to be the key metrics. Regardless of which metrics are chosen, make sure that they are tied to your organizations bottom-line.  Having irrelevant metrics distract from engaging in high ROI diversity and inclusion activities.

2. Capture data  and consider benchmarking against prior years, and where possible, against peers

If there is anything better than cold hard data - its lots of cold hard data!  Diversity impact assessment will require discipline to capture data periodically.  If a set of relevant metrics is not defined as in 1  above, focus will be on the wrong measures, so make sure the right metrics are defined and get buy-in at all levels in the organization.

Capturing data over time allows an overview of where the organization is on the "evolutionary scale" of diversity.  There is a big difference between sending out an internal email to observe and celebrate the MLK day vs. having a LGBT targeted recruiting effort which gets twice as many resumes from highly qualified prospects which allows you to attract better talent vs. your competition.  Diversity Inc has a valuable methodology to benchmark your organization on a scale ranging from "celebration"-focused to "competition"-focused.

3. Diversity impact measurement must be "Personal"

While the impact of a well executed diversity and inclusion strategy is organizational, the effort is still very personal and the insights also tend to be at a personal level.  Cisco Systems is an exceptional example of how a very large global organization can get down to the personal level to gather the data.  Below is a list of items Cisco captures from its employees (source: Cisco - Proving the ROI of Global Diversity and Inclusion Efforts)

  • My team has a climate in which diverse perspectives are valued.
  • At Cisco, employees can voice their opinions without fear of retribution.
  • At Cisco, people are rewarded according to their job performance and accomplishments.
  • At Cisco, employees are treated with respect, regardless of their job or level.
  • I know how to address disrespectful and/or intolerant behavior.
  • I can succeed at Cisco without sacrificing aspects of my personality or culture.
  • My manager ensures fair treatment for everyone on my team.
  • Senior leadership emphasizes the value of a diverse workforce.

4. Diversity impact measurement should cover all functional areas in the organization

While this point may be obvious, many organizations, especially where there is a clear functional divide (e.g. Learning and Development vs. HR, Student life vs. Administration), tend to get fragmented in their efforts and it becomes tempting to focus on the functional area impact.  This leads to some initiatives slipping through the cracks.  If the disparate functions have a reason to live within an organization, then the diversity and inclusion effort and impact measurement should also be tied to overall goals of that organization.  Silo mindset may simplify things in the short run, but defeats the purpose in the longer run as best practices and costs remain trapped in functional silos.  Make sure to keep going broad.

5. Be Bold and Share your Diversity Impact Measurement Results

Sharing diversity impact measurement results can serve two important purposes:

  1. It demonstrates an organizational commitment to the D&I strategy ensuring that it is not considered the flavor of the year
  2. It commits  constituents to transparency and momentum that will further improve what matters to an organization.  Measurement is not an end; it is a key step in a self-reinforcing cycle of improvement.