Why metrics are key to measuring DEI progress

DEI metrics

In modern organisations, data is critical. We use it everywhere from Finance to Compliance, Sales, and Customer Success to make decisions, identify problems, and improve processes.

But one place where organisations often trip up on their data is with DEI — because it’s not always as clear-cut as measuring revenue, profits, or customer retention.

Without regular, consistent measurement, organisations will not only find it hard to understand their progress on DEI, but they’ll find it hard to make meaningful progress in the first place.

In this post, we’ll explain why data is critical to your DEI efforts — and what you need to measure to see meaningful progress.

Why data matters when it comes to DEI

“We’ve all heard the saying that numbers don’t lie,” says Laura Mills, Head of Early Career Insights at Forage. “Data is empirical evidence that you’re making progress — or not making progress — towards your DEI goals. It helps you understand your baseline, but also what’s possible. But to make meaningful progress, you need to understand the landscape you’re working within first.”

When organisations are first getting started on DEI, they’re more prone to setting talent acquisition or workforce composition goals — such as increasing the candidate pipeline for a particular underrepresented group. And while it’s good to have some diversity goals, Laura says organisations can make a more meaningful, long-lasting impact by focusing on equity and inclusion.

“Setting empirical goals — like increasing the percentage of diversity in your workforce — that’s some of the easier data to measure,” she says. “But the harder task is often understanding the E and the I in DEI — what progress your organisation is making towards equity and inclusion.”

6 key DEI metrics that matter

Moving past the ‘D’ in DEI means your organisation can set more effective goals that align with your diversity and inclusion strategy, and connect more tangibly to business outcomes.

Here are 6 key metrics that matter when building a more diverse and inclusive organisation.

1. Recruitment

As we’ve already said, most organisations start with their recruitment process when looking for hard data on if their DEI initiatives are working. But here’s the difference — instead of stopping at measuring the demographic composition of your pipeline, try measuring the impact of your process. For example, understanding that candidates with physical disabilities are less likely to make it through your interview round than those without indicates that you have a hiring manager bias problem.

Collect recruitment data by:

  • Identifying candidate demographics
  • Segmenting your recruitment funnel by stage to understand candidate representation
  • Measuring candidate drop-out rates
  • Sending out candidate experience surveys for qualitative data

2. Attrition

Understanding who is most likely to leave in your organisation can help uncover ways that inclusion isn’t working at your organisation — especially if you’re able to view your data at the level of employee dimensions of diversity, tenure, department, and level of seniority. For example, if younger Black employees are most likely to leave within their first year, this shows that you’re not creating an inclusive experience for this specific employee population. Knowing this information helps you look for the root cause.

Collect attrition data by:

  • Using your HRIS to monitor leavers regularly, segmenting by different employee populations and intersectionality
  • Collecting employee exit surveys to understand qualitative experiences.

3. Employee experience

Ultimately, inclusion and belonging focus on how your employees feel, and if they’re able to bring their full selves to work each day. Understanding this experience will help add nuance to your progression, attrition, and performance data.

“Often, some of these metrics will be more subjective,” Laura says. “It’s more about understanding how your employees feel as you grow towards your DEI goals. For example: Are your employees getting to better solutions with diverse teams? Are teams working well together? How are employees feeling at work?”

Collect employee experience data by:

  • Implementing regular employee engagement or pulse surveys
  • Measuring employee sentiment to track the mood of your workforce
  • Creating processes for regular feedback, including one-to-ones and group feedback

4. Progression

Research consistently shows that employees from marginalised groups experience fewer promotions and professional advancement in the workplace. Measuring the varying promotion rates across different employee groups will help you identify where bias lurks in performance management and progression processes.

Collect progression data by:

  • Segmenting employee promotion rates by dimensions of diversity, department, and level of seniority
  • Measuring employee performance management process to see if some groups are more likely to receive positive outcomes than others

5. Compensation

Employees — and legal bodies — are increasingly demanding that organisations work harder to promote more transparent pay practices. When building a more equitable workplace, tracking compensation can help you identify where embedded biases are contributing to financial inequity — but it can also shed light on inequities within your recruitment processes.

Collect compensation data by:

  • Measuring gender and race pay gaps
  • Measuring employee bonuses or performance-based pay

6. Business outcomes

Diversity and inclusion impact the whole business — not just your workforce. As such, Laura recommends that organisations take a look at how DEI is impacting external-facing factors.

“When you’re providing services to the outside world, it’s essential to see how DEI impacts the rest of your business — how effective you are, how attractive to customers you are, the kinds of solutions you’re providing,” Laura says. “For example, look at your supply chain to see how many businesses you work with that are owned by underrepresented people. Measure your customer satisfaction as part of your DEI strategy. Looking at the bigger picture will advance your understanding of your progress beyond just talent acquisition.”

Collect business outcome data by: Zeroing in on strategic objectives — such as revenue, customer satisfaction, or supply chain analysis.

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Develop Diverse is an inclusive communication platform that enables your organisation to build and scale a more inclusive recruitment process. Backed by AI and cutting-edge research, our platform helps your organisation identify, eliminate, and retrain linguistic bias in written text. Find out more by booking a demo with one of our team members.

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