The importance of diversity metrics
Many companies are waving the “diversity banner” for the sake of attracting top talent, only for the recruits to find out that the organization do not have concrete metrics to measure its progress on fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The inevitable realization of working for a company that do not really provide a structural approach to diversity and inclusion leads to low satisfaction, disengagement, and eventually high turnover.
A report titled “Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion” showed that nearly 80 percent of companies globally are just “going through the motions” in their attempts to create a diverse and inclusive work culture. This is huge considering that, according to a 2020 Glassdoor survey, at least 76 percent of jobseekers worldwide consider diversity as a key factor in accepting job offers. And this is where diversity metrics come in.
Diversity metrics are quantitative measurements used to track and assess the representation of various demographic groups within a given organization. These metrics are essential for evaluating the level of diversity and inclusion in different settings. Common diversity metrics include data on gender, ethnicity and race, age, sexual orientation, disability status, religious beliefs, and more. These metrics guide leaders in their goal to achieve true diversity and inclusion in the company.
Types of diversity metrics
There are many types of metrics that you can use in measuring your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts. But it’s always useful to start with the basics.
- Gender and sexual orientation- The number of people who identify as man, woman, or LGBTQ
- Ethnicity and race – Racial and ethnic backgrounds necessary for cultural diversity
- Age – The distribution of employees across various age groups for generational diversity
- Parenthood – Whether your employee is married with or without kids or single with kids
- Disability – The number of individuals with disabilities in your workforce for inclusion
- Religion – Measures the religious diversity within your workforce
Identifying these baseline metrics is crucial in applying them to an entire employee life cycle. A Harvard Business Review study recommends seven solid diversity metrics that can help you come up with a comprehensive and insightful report.
Putting the five basic diversity metrics mentioned above in the context of a candidate’s journey gives you an insight into how well you are doing in advancing the careers of your diverse workforce. Know your demographics from sourcing, interviewing, to accepting applications so you can have a picture of how well you are doing in each stage of the hiring process.
Career and leadership journey
A detailed DE&I report would include how many of your employees in various demographics make their way to senior and leadership positions. For example, boasting a 50-50 ratio of men and women in the workforce may amount to nothing if your leadership is still 80-20 in favor of men.
In 2022, studies say that women are still 17 percent behind the pay of men. Knowing how much of your employees in specific demographics are paid will help you bridge potential pay gaps within your workforce. And it’s not just the pay gap between men and women. It can also be pay gaps between different races and ethnicities.
Learning about the performance of your workforce across demographics can reveal the level of effort or knowledge you have in helping people from different backgrounds work efficiently. This will help you create strategies that will ensure that your employees, no matter their backgrounds, are supported in their roles within the organization.
Start by identifying voluntary and involuntary attrition, split them into the demographics we’ve identified earlier, and take note of the reasons for leaving. You can even track attrition by demographic per role so you can see the details of how your human resource department is doing in terms of retaining a diverse workforce.
How to measure inclusion in the workplace
If diversity is all about the number of people from different representations, inclusion is all about how you ensure that no one from this pool of talent is left behind.
An inclusive work environment, a Harvard Business Review report said, is “where all people feel respected, accepted, supported, and valued,” and allowing them to participate in decision-making processes and career advancement opportunities.
US-based research and consulting firm Gartner has come up with an inclusion index focused on seven aspects of work:
- Fair treatment – Ensuring all employees are recognized and rewarded fairly
- Integrating differences – Ensuring all opinions are heard, respected, and valued
- Decision-making – Ensuring that ideas from all employees are heard and considered
- Psychological safety – Ensuring that all employees can to express true feelings without judgment
- Trust – Ensuring honest and open communication across the board
- Belonging – Ensuring that all employees feel care and belongingness
- Diversity – Ensuring a diverse leadership to lead inclusion efforts
Best practices in collecting diversity metrics
Set the goals, align with values
Effective collection of diversity metrics involves strategic planning, ethical considerations, and a commitment to continuous improvement. The first step in doing this is to establish clear goals and objectives.
The typical goals for organization in collecting diversity metrics include regulatory requirements, enhancing top-management decision-making processes, and boosting the company’s reputation in the market.
The goals you establish should always align with your organizational value as this will help your campaign make a stronger impact on your employees. Having value-aligned diversity and inclusion goals will also send a message of authenticity and commitment to your people.
Clear communication with respect to privacy
Clearly communicate the voluntary nature of data submission, emphasizing its role in promoting a more inclusive and equitable workplace. Implement anonymous and voluntary reporting whenever possible and ensure that the data you collect will be private and secure.
Not all employees are comfortable in expressing certain aspects of their life, such as sexual orientation, parenthood, and religious beliefs, so having anonymous options will definitely help you still get their information. Moreover, anonymity reduces concerns about potential biases or discrimination.
It is also important to make your communication accessible. If necessary, implement multilingual surveys to ensure that all employees understand your efforts in a deeper sense.
Regular review and feedback
A large portion of diversity metrics is flexible and fluid, so making a regular review of your numbers will help paint an accurate picture of your place in the DE&I department.
Continue monitoring trends and DE&I so you know whether you need to add more dimensions to your current efforts to maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Keep an open channel for feedback and allow your employees to help you improve the way you collect and report diversity metrics.
Best practices in diversity reporting
Customize reports for different stakeholders
Reporting diversity metrics to your board of investors is different from reporting them to your people or to certain regulatory bodies. Certain aspects of the information you’ve gathered may be vital to your investors, while some would resonate more to your own employees.
Creating reports that are tailored to your specific stakeholders will allow you to drive a point and make an impact. In doing customized reports, always go back to the goals you have established before you embarked on your DE&I report campaign.
Visualize your data
Data can be overwhelming but visualizing it in graphs and charts would help your stakeholders understand all these information better. Tap the expertise of your graphic artists in visualizing data, but make sure you communicate to them the idea and essence of the numbers they are working with.
If you are creating a digital report, consider making it interactive by using filtered dashboards that will guide your readers in navigate the document easily. In doing so, you also help your audience find data points of interest faster.
Contextualize your metrics
In the course of gathering diversity metrics, you may realize that you are still a bit far on your organizational goals. But if you compare it to industry standards, you may be surprised that you are actually doing well more than the others.
This is why it is important for you to benchmarks your numbers not just with your own goals, but also with industry standards. Contextualized reporting will ensure that your readers see your efforts on both the micro and macro levels.
Legal and ethical considerations
Before releasing your diversity reports, have it internally or externally reviewed by legal and compliance experts. Reporting diversity metrics always involve sensitive information that touches on data privacy and security laws.
If possible, have it reviewed by an employee-based committee with members that represent the demographics involved in the report. This will make sure that you avoid any wording or angles that may offend certain groups.
Diversity metrics and the future of work
With a lingering labor shortage, more companies are relying on international workers, whether through migrants or offshore staff, to augment their needs.
Just in 2022, the number of foreign-born workers that make up the US labor force rose to 18 percent, while the global outsourcing market is expected to be at $350 billion this year.
With the landscape of business becoming more global in nature, companies will have to be more aggressive in their efforts to make their organization truly diverse.
The meticulous collection and transparent reporting of diversity metrics are paramount for cultivating an inclusive and equitable workplace.