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David Whitfield

HR DataHub

CEO and Co-founder of HR DataHub

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Six essential tips to measure DE&I in the workplace

Bring greater clarity and focus to your D&I strategy with the top tips
DE&I metrics

It’s fair to say that measuring diversity and inclusion in the workplace is no easy job, but it is, however, an essential tactic. It enables an organisation to align its actions with intent, as well as connect the dots between doing what they say they do and making realistic what they want to achieve.

D&I measurement will also enable an organisation to be transparent about their gaps and their progress with their employees, customers and investors about the work you are doing. Because the reality is, transparency builds trust. And it shows an organisation is serious about making systemic changes that will make life better for everyone.

Differentials in the amount of time people stay with your company may point to a lack of inclusivity

If you want greater clarity and focus on your D&I strategy, then here are six essential tips to help you measure D&I in your workplace: 

1. Define the key areas of analysis

It’s impossible to measure D&I in the workplace without defining your areas of focus first. A key area of analysis that you may wish to start with will include having representation at each level. This includes the percentage of colleagues across the D&I characteristics at each level within the company. That way, you can pinpoint opportunities for progression and see where representation is lagging. 

You will also need to look at how long people are staying at the company. Differentials in the amount of time people stay with your company may point to a lack of inclusivity. For example, a high percentage of first-year leavers would be a cause for concern.

Likewise, understanding pay differentials will also help you track the pay for each level and function within your organisation. This will give you the opportunity to make proactive pay decisions and ensure that everyone is fairly rewarded.

Finally, you will also want to consider your talent areas. Aim to work out the percentage of different colleagues in each function and role. This is important because it demonstrates a commitment to breaking stereotypical roles. However, be mindful that there is not a quick fix solution to this. You will need to make a long-term commitment and you should expect change to be slow.

2. Put in the leg work to overcome disclosure hurdles

There are some steps you can take to encourage and improve disclosure rates.

  • First, you will need to build a culture of trust within the organisation. The value of developing trust between you and your employee cannot be overstated. To start with aim to build and deliver an engagement campaign to make it clear what, why and how the data will be used. Culture is so important to measure diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 
  • Secondly, you will need to get to grips with your human resources information system (HRIS). Some systems can be restrictive and inflexible and difficult to use.
  • Thirdly, you will need to map out the limitations of your HRIS system and explore workarounds through additional software or systems you may already use, like engagement survey software for example. Alternatively, keep an eye out for new developments to your HRIS system; more and more providers are realising the need for more flexibility and might be improving access to helpful features.
  • Fourth, it will be essential to get buy-in from your senior leadership team from the start. Like anything new, it can be difficult to know where to start. But getting the support from your seniors at the beginning will help prevent any stumbling blocks along the way. 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​It’s essential to maintain a strong pattern of trust with your employees. Even if you have nothing significant to share, any update is better than silence

3. Learn how much data you need to report

You may be struggling to determine what level of disclosure you need before you analyse and self-report and, if so, rest assured you won’t be the only one. We used to advocate for about a 60-70% disclosure rate across the board. However, for it to be statistically relevant, the percentage required should go down with the size of the organisation. For example, if you have fewer employees, then you will need a much higher disclosure rate because of data sampling.

We have also used census data to adjust the targets based on the predicted number of people you will have across the characteristics. To support this challenge, we have built a free disclosure calculator which might prove useful.

4. Communicate and follow through

You will have heard it before, but communication is always king. You may have done a great job encouraging your employees to file their declarations, but if they then have to wait weeks to find out what you have found out, or if you fail to keep them in the loop about how you’ve used their data then they will be left wondering why they took part in the first place.

As a result, many will stop trusting you and will be unlikely to want to assist you in the future. Because of this, it’s essential to maintain a strong pattern of trust with your employees. Even if you have nothing significant to share, any update is better than silence. 

5. Benchmark externally for context

A number of businesses will be aware of what they do. However, few will know what’s going on outside of their own four walls. By comparing your organisation to other relevant organisations, your decisions will be more precise, better informed and more relevant. 

Our hub of aggregated HR data, the D&I Index enables companies to benchmark themselves against others in their sector and see the standards others are setting. It will also allow companies to see what perspectives they are using and the practices that are most successful, so that they can implement the most successful tactics.

6. Target areas that need urgent attention

One of the great frustrations that business leaders share with us regularly is that they feel like they are putting a great deal of work into action, but that they don’t see the results. And it’s true. HR teams are working non-stop to make changes, yet the data shows little progress.

The issue here is not that there is no effort being made, it’s that effort is being made in areas that don’t have the biggest impact. We recommend connecting the data with actions and prioritising what will make a meaningful difference. 

Don’t allow that challenge to prevent you from moving forward on the D&I agenda

To do this you need to look at the data meaningfully, and in sufficient detail to understand where your biggest wins might be. You will need to target those areas that you can see need urgent action. You could work on two or three areas comprehensively, which will likely give you a better outcome. 

You will also need to back your actions with time and resources, as well as monitor the progress of specific actions taken and work to improve them. 

There’s certainly no denying that it can be tough to gather D&I data. But don’t allow that challenge to prevent you from moving forward on the D&I agenda. Better measurement of D&I will allow you to deliver the needle-moving changes that you’re looking for.

Interested in this topic? Read Why HR needs to bring Data and DEI together.

Author Profile Picture
David Whitfield

CEO and Co-founder of HR DataHub

Read more from David Whitfield
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