DE&I Metrics: Measuring What Matters

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” It’s a classic mantra often attributed to management guru Peter Drucker. While the business case for a more diverse, more inclusive workforce has long been established, how do companies know if their efforts create real change within the organization?

February 16, 2022


Although metrics should never be the sole measure of success, they provide vital information on the effectiveness of the policies and programs implemented. And they offer essential clues on the steps that we can take to gain traction on equity and inclusion while broadening overall representation within the organization.

But what should you measure? We encourage companies to go beyond single measures of success that may not tell the whole story. As we’ve discussed before, 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.

Here is 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. 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, how does the percentage of employees from underrepresented populations compare to 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 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. 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. 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.

Contributing Author

Solade Rowe

DHR’s Diversity Practice leaders advise your organization on how to effectively court, assess, acquire and cultivate diverse talent into your leadership pipeline.

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