How to Measure Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: KPIs & Metrics for Success

Theresa Carik, Ph.D. Uncategorized

We’ve already covered the basics of what diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) mean and why your organization needs it — which means it’s time for organizations to follow through. While knowing where to begin can be challenging, identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) your organization needs to reach will be the key to helping you understand what “success” means and how to measure diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within your organization.

In doing so, not only will all your employees benefit from being able to bring their authentic selves to work, but your business will also benefit from reduced turnover, increased productivity, and greater employee satisfaction.

Important DEI metrics

Before we cover how to track your progress, there are a lot of DEI metrics and KPIs to consider when implementing a new strategy, and it’s okay if not every single category fits with your business model. While the overarching goals of promoting DEI remain consistent, the ways in which these goals are achieved and measured can differ for various industries. What is successful for a law firm will be different from what works for a manufacturer, for example. 

Determine what KPIs and metrics make the most sense for your organization — whether they’re tailored around pay equity, supplier diversity, or engagement with Employee Resource Groups — and go after those goals.

Employee diversity across organization levels

Measuring diversity at all levels helps ensure that individuals from underrepresented groups have equitable access to advancement and leadership roles. While broad, this KPI can help leadership evaluate whether the diversity in the C-suite matches up with the diversity in lower levels of the organization.

Employee diversity vs. applicant pool

Monitoring the diversity of hired employees against their applicant pool helps organizations assess whether their hiring practices are effectively attracting and selecting candidates from diverse backgrounds. By acknowledging whether certain demographics are being excluded more than others from hiring despite a high volume of applicants, your organization can address the issue and support fair hiring practices, talent attraction, and inclusive recruitment.

Internal mobility & advancement

Do certain demographics or groups have fewer opportunities for career advancement, promotions, or internal mobility at your workplace? This KPI answers that question by measuring the movement of employees within an organization as they progress in their careers, take on new roles, and advance to higher positions.

Salaries

While the wage gap between men and women has long been a topic of conversation around workplace inequality, this disparity in earnings grows even further when introducing demographic breakdowns based on race, physical ability, age, sexual orientation, and more. Examining salary data helps ensure that employees are compensated fairly for their roles and responsibilities, regardless of gender, race, or other characteristics. If there are significant disparities in salaries between different groups, or if the organization’s salaries fall far below industry standards, it could indicate a need for adjustments in compensation policies.

Employee retention

Similar to compensation, employee retention is another critical metric for assessing the effectiveness of an organization’s efforts in creating a positive work environment. Monitor the retention rate across different demographics to identify trends and fluctuations. A declining retention rate might indicate underlying issues such as low job satisfaction, poor management, lack of growth opportunities, or inadequate compensation for a given group of employees.

Employee satisfaction/engagement

Employee satisfaction and engagement are KPIs that measure the overall contentment, motivation, and commitment of employees within an organization. These KPIs provide insights into how well the organization is meeting its employees’ needs and creating a positive place to work, and can help identify areas of improvement for several of the metrics already mentioned above.

ERG participation

Another engagement metric, the success of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), can reflect the success of diversity initiatives and overall workplace culture. These employee networks are typically voluntary, employee-led groups formed around shared characteristics, interests, or experiences, such as ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ identity, or veteran status. If your organization has employee resource groups, what does turnout and participation look like for each?

Participation in DEI programs

For companies already implementing formal DEIB education programs, this KPI helps assess the effectiveness of these programs in creating awareness, educating employees, and fostering a more inclusive workplace culture. By measuring attendance and engagement at DEI workshops and training events, organizations can identify trends in participation rates to determine which topics or formats resonate most with employees. This data can then be used to tailor future programs and strategies to meet employees’ interests and needs.

Number of incident reports/complaints

As the name suggests, this KPI can help organizations track (and hopefully decrease) the number of incidents or complaints in the workplace. This KPI offers a cultural assessment of your workplace and policy effectiveness while also providing an early detection system that allows organizations to address problems promptly and prevent them from escalating. However, make sure changes aren’t simply preventing or discouraging people from submitting them, and that it’s actually reducing the need to. 

Partner diversity

This KPI focuses on assessing the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in its business relationships and supply chain. Vendor diversity is just as important as employee diversity because it shows your organization’s dedication to inclusive business practices and supporting economic growth in marginalized communities.

Customer diversity

Once you assess the diversity within your organization and your partners, it’s time to evaluate the representation of different demographic groups within the organization’s customer base and assess its ability to reach and serve diverse populations. This measure provides insights into your organization’s market responsiveness, competitive advantage, and identity as an inclusive brand. Remember — a diverse employee base attracts a diverse customer base.

Tips for tracking DEI success

Now that we’ve established some key diversity and inclusion metrics, let’s explore some strategies for measuring DEI success in your organization.

Clearly define what DEI success means to your organization

Before you begin, it’s imperative to first establish a clear and tangible definition of what success means for your organization. This will provide a solid roadmap and shared understanding of the organization’s goals regarding DEI, which will help you align efforts across teams and get leadership buy-in. Perhaps even more importantly, establishing metrics for success empowers employees by articulating the value placed on these initiatives, ultimately enhancing employee engagement.

Choose the KPIs that reflect this definition

Once you’ve defined what success means for your organization, choose the KPIs that fit the definition and are the most relevant and insightful for the organization. For example, if your organization’s DEI goals center around improving the diversity of recruiting efforts, current employee diversity versus the applicant pool and salaries are important metrics. Alternatively, if you realize that your organization’s DEI issues are primarily impacting the C-suite, internal mobility and advancement, and even ERG participation, will likely be better metrics to track. 

Set goals for where you want each KPI to be for “success”

Now that you have specific metrics that can be tracked, set benchmarks such as improving attendance by 50% for ERG-sponsored events, decreasing incident reports by 75%, or getting the salaries of all the employees working the same position to be within 5% of each other. These benchmarks should be practical. While it probably isn’t realistic to have every entry-level employee at the exact same pay due to differences in performance, the goal should be to get all their salaries close to each other, especially by demographic standards. 

Use tools like surveys to get pulse checks

There are a variety of DEI assessment tools organizations can use to gauge the success of their initiatives, ranging in complexity from check-in systems and sentiment analysis to simple surveys to see how employees are feeling about progress on company DEI goals. By crafting well-designed surveys that address various aspects of initiatives, organizations can measure employee satisfaction, identify areas of improvement, and uncover potential issues. Just make sure your organization acts on this information, otherwise, you risk your employees losing trust in the efficacy of your surveys, and you’ll lose this valuable data channel. 

Continually check in on progress toward these goals

While a simple tip, regularly checking in on how things are going is key to tracking the success of your initiatives. If there’s been stagnation or if certain things have had more or less impact than expected, it’s important to clock these things early when they can still be addressed. Leaving your goals alone is a great way to lose track of them, and you want to affect positive change in your organization that works for everyone — so keep up with analyzing KPIs, engaging your ERGs, and providing training in the areas you’re trying to improve. 

Continually evaluate measurement processes & goals

Making progress in DEI efforts involves more than just tracking metrics. It necessitates a comprehensive assessment of whether the chosen metrics, processes, and initial goals remain aligned with the organization’s evolving vision for success. Regularly evaluating these aspects ensures that the organization’s strategies remain dynamic and capable of addressing emerging challenges and opportunities. It empowers the organization to refine its approach, pivot when necessary, and uphold a commitment to creating an inclusive environment that aligns with its broader DEI aspirations.

Benchmark against similar organizations in similar industries

Benchmarking against other companies in your industry provides context and a comparative perspective on your DEI progress. By evaluating how your organization’s DEI initiatives and outcomes compare to those of similar companies, you gain a clearer understanding of where you stand in terms of diversity representation, equity practices, and inclusivity efforts.

Benchmarking not only helps you set realistic goals but also allows you to learn from the successes and challenges of others. Tracking these can allow you to identify areas for improvement that might not be evident when evaluating your organization in isolation.

Partner with a 3rd-party group to assist

It can be difficult to define your organization’s DEI goals, select the KPIs associated with them, and track their success all on your own. That’s why working with a third-party consultant can provide your organization with a comprehensive and expert-driven approach to tracking the success of your DEI initiatives. Consultants bring an external, unbiased perspective and specialized expertise, which can offer valuable insights and guidance throughout the DEI journey.

Supercharge your DEIB efforts

Now that you have all the information you need to start thinking about and tracking DEI goals for your organization, partnering with a third-party group can boost your efforts and chances of success. With 40 years of experience in helping organizations across a wide range of industries execute their workplace initiatives, Keystone Partners is the ideal collaborator for your DEI endeavors. Our work transforms company cultures to help your business reach new levels of organizational excellence. Learn more about our solutions and the inclusive culture we can help you build.

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