How to Measure the Success of Organisational Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

by | Last updated Feb 16, 2023 | 0 comments

What gets measured gets done. When it comes to organisational diversity and inclusion strategy, this adage is particularly fitting. Since the biases that perpetuate workplace inequality are generally unconscious, it takes more than well-intentioned policies and programs to shift organisational culture to be truly diverse and inclusive.

With no clear ways to track and measure diversity and inclusion initiatives, there’s a tendency to slide back to old patterns that limit the success of such programs. Organisations devoted to having a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture must use metrics that help them track the success of their efforts.

Hiring goals can increase your diversity numbers—which are fairly easy to track. But that’s just half the story. Minority employees might feel that they don’t belong and that their presence in the organisation is tokenized. For instance, women can feel unsafe or the organisation might not have resources to support employees with disabilities.

For a heterogenous workplace to thrive, organisations must make efforts to cultivate an inclusive culture that gives every employee a sense of belonging and support to contribute meaningfully. 

The challenge, however, is that inclusion can be difficult to quantify. And without ways to measure inclusion, many organisations rely on the subjective perceptions of HR heads or teams—with varying degrees of accuracy.

However, it’s not impossible to measure diversity and inclusion. With a commitment to long-term tracking and benchmarking, organisations can tell if they’re making progress on their D&I goals. In addition, metrics help in evidencing return on investment of diversity and inclusion programs to stakeholders—helping secure additional resources, strengthen leadership commitment, and advocate for further change.

Furthermore, companies can use D&I metrics to foster employee trust and satisfaction and strengthen their employer brand.

Before we delve into how your organisation can measure D&I, bear in mind that every company may face unique challenges in the context of its business strategy. Now let’s explore some of the most common and effective ways to measure the success of organisational diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“For a heterogenous workplace to thrive, organisations must make efforts to cultivate an inclusive culture that gives every employee a sense of belonging and support to contribute meaningfully.”

Check the Employee Diversity Against Applications

employee diversity vs application pool

A simple way to measure the success of your diversity goals is by looking at who you’re hiring and comparing it to the people who apply for open positions in your company. For example, how many women vs men apply for positions and does that reflect in the ratio of male to female employees in your company?

If your team is largely homogenous despite having a widely-varied pool of applicants, it could be an indicator that your recruitment process is prejudiced. When your D&I initiatives are working, you should see an improvement in how your team’s diversity reflects the range of applicants.

To boost diversity in your organisation, track how this metric changes with time as you hire more people. Look for ways to eliminate bias in your recruitment process and establish programs to attract, hire, and retain qualified and diverse employees.

Also read: Tips for Building a Workplace Culture of Diversity and Inclusivity

“If your team is largely homogenous despite having a widely-varied pool of applicants, it could be an indicator that your recruitment process is prejudiced.”

Track Diversity Across All Organisational Levels

levels of an organisation

Diversity in an organisation’s leadership is especially important. A 2018 report from McKinsey found that more diversity in an organisation’s C-suite was linked to better financial performance.

Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity in their leadership were found to be 33% more likely than those in the bottom quartile to enjoy above-average profits. In addition, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21% more likely to achieve above-average profits compared to those in the bottom quartile.

While diversity at the top is a great start, it shouldn’t stop there. For diversity initiatives to make a real difference, the value has to be reflected in all levels of an organisation—from interns to technicians, mid-level managers, and all the way to the C-suite.

Look at how diverse each level of your organisation is. What is the percentage of women and minorities in leadership positions and the rest of the organisation? It’s possible to embrace diversity in one demographic while still having a bias towards other groups. List all the important demographics you’d like to reflect in your team and track their representation in the company over time.

Also read: Hiring for Culture Fit: Finding and Growing Talent

Check How Satisfied Employees Are

Organisational Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Tracking employee job satisfaction is one of the best ways to measure the progress of your inclusion goals. While it’s a difficult metric to track, it’s vital for understanding whether certain groups of an organisation’s employees feel valued, motivated, and supported.

You can use survey responses to measure specific subject areas that help you understand if employees feel supported and welcome in the organisation. For instance, you can look at how content the staff is with their responsibilities and the quality of interpersonal relationships within the organisation.

Evaluating the data from surveys across the organisation as a whole based on diversity criteria will help reveal patterns of bias.

Effective surveys should solicit voluntary disclosure of demographic data such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and other diversity factors. Include questions that directly address D&I concerns such as feeling supported, feeling able to speak up without repercussion, feeling valued, having confidence in the leadership, and fair recognition and rewards for contributions.

Also read: Use Psychometrics to Grow Your Organisations Change Leaders

Measure Employee Retention Rates

employee retention in an organisation

Employee job satisfaction and retention are closely related. A high turnover rate indicates that employees are unhappy and unfulfilled at work. It could also show that members of your team don’t feel included.

If the majority of your diverse hires end up leaving within a short time, you may not be as inclusive as assumed. Similarly, if senior diverse employees are leaving, it might point to a lack of career advancement opportunities for them.

Measure the average retention period of employees, comparing it across diversity factors such as gender and ethnicity. Supplementing this data with qualitative information from D&I surveys and exit interviews will give you a clearer picture of existing bias.

Also read: How to Select Members of a Change Agent Network

“If the majority of your diverse hires end up leaving within a short time, you may not be as inclusive as assumed. Similarly, if senior diverse employees are leaving, it might point to a lack of career advancement opportunities for them.”

Take a Look at Salaries, Bonuses, and Promotions

Analysing salaries, bonuses and promotions is a simple yet highly effective and meaningful way to measure the success of D&I initiatives. Tracking these metrics is critical in an environment where conscious and unconscious prejudices have led to the most damaging D&I concerns—lack of equal pay for equal work.

Track salaries, commissions, promotions, and bonuses by role and tenure.  Compare the numbers across different demographics—which will help you pinpoint payment and promotion disparities within your organisation.

Also read: The Role of HR In Managing Change

Now It’s Over to You…

Diversity and inclusion metrics need to be tracked and measured over a long period of time. Even if you don’t see immediate changes, it’s important to keep implementing D&I initiatives.

The metrics we’ve highlighted will give you actionable insights you can use to track and measure success and improve your D&I strategies over time.

Cedar Africa is ready to help you at every stage of your journey to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, from attracting top talent to developing change champions at different levels of your organisation. Speak with one of our talent consultants now to get started.

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