Measuring the impact of your diversity and inclusion investments

October 19, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Diversity, inclusion, metrics. In the world of human resources, those are buzzwords to be taken seriously. But to truly make a contribution to an organization, HR needs to analyze the meaning of each one. Mary L. Martinez, director of diversity and inclusion practice at APTMetrics, Inc., advises organizations on how to benefit from diversity and inclusion efforts through assessment, engagement, and measurement. On November 18, she will be leading a Business & Legal Resources webinar titled “Maturing Your Diversity & Inclusion Metrics: Measure What Matters.”  Metrics

Employers have found that having a diverse group of employees where various races, cultures, ages, and genders are represented and feel included can lead to a productive, cooperative workplace. And devising the right metrics helps organizations achieve goals.

Getting to the metrics that matter, Martinez says, means creating a comprehensive scorecard of measures that address:

  • Workforce profile
  • Diversity climate
  • Programs and processes
  • Business impact

In considering the workforce profile, employers should take a look at how various groups are currently represented in the organization and the trends in hiring, advancement, and departures, particularly in the areas of greatest challenge.

Martinez also says to look at the organization’s diversity climate, considering such things as employee perceptions and complaints as well as information from 360-degree feedback and HR process audits.

Under programs and processes, Martinez says to look at employee participation in activities and programs such as training and mentoring. Also, HR should evaluate the participants’ experience with programs and the programs’ impact in areas such as advancement and retention.

For business impact, Martinez says to look at the return on investment of any internal process changes in addition to considering how diversity and inclusion efforts may increase innovation, productivity, quality, market growth, and customer satisfaction.

So how can metrics help organizations meet diversity and inclusion goals? “Establishing metrics should be the end product of a thorough analysis of the organization’s D&I ‘health,’ which means that developing them forces the organization to take an honest look at its achievements and gaps, against the backdrop of its vision for a fully inclusive culture that leverages both differences and commonalities for organization success,” Martinez says.

Do your metrics measure up?

Having the right metrics helps an organization determine if the interventions it is making to close the gaps in inclusion or take full advantage of diversity opportunities are having an impact, Martinez says. Here are some tips she offers HR on measuring the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts.

  • Always start with the business strategy and aim for a comprehensive or balanced scorecard.
  • Don’t try to measure too much. To the extent possible, use data already available. That data may need to be analyzed in new ways or some measures added, but the goal should be to keep the process from becoming too burdensome.
  • Make review of the diversity and inclusion scorecard a regular part of business updates at all levels of the organization. Set organization-wide metrics that allow for tailoring at local levels in terms of targets and/or leeway to select those measures that are most relevant. Martinez says organizations will want some standard measures that are consistent across the organization, but flexibility is necessary especially for a global company.
  • Don’t get caught up in either looking for outside benchmark data or creating too complicated a process for setting targets. Both exercises are useful, but they can stall the effort if they become too much of a focus.
  • Ensure that accountability for results is clearly assigned, rolled down the organization, and that managers and employees are given the education and tools they need to take the actions expected to produce the desired results. Martinez advises not implementing a link to compensation too soon in the process. Instead, be sure that people understand fully the diversity and inclusion vision and what behaviors are required. For example, if there are targets for increases in representation, diversity efforts should not mean just filling seats with candidates of the desired profile regardless of fit and capability.
  • Review and revise metrics on an ongoing basis. They should change as the organization’s diversity and inclusion and business strategies change.
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