How to start measuring your DE&I progress

Two DE&I practitioners share metrics around recruitment, participation and more.

You can’t tell an authentic story of DE&I progress until the work is started. It’s a delicate process, though—one that should begin without placing a burden on employees from diverse backgrounds to provide all the answers.

To get started, gathering some data is essential.

Numbers that chart your organization’s DE&I progress can serve as a grounded starting place for difficult but necessary conversations. They can also help you create a snapshot of the work that lies ahead.

Joseph Dawson, director of strategic communications at Freddie Mac and Cat Colella-Graham, founder and president of employee experience agency Cheer Partners shared several tips on where to begin your internal DE&I reporting journey during Ragan’s DE&I Summit for Communicators on Feb. 9.

1. Make sure your audio matches your video.

Colella-Graham offered a guiding principle for reporting DE&I progress that a friend of her once shared with her: “Make sure your audio matches your video,” or, make sure you’re living the commitments you say you’ll make.

“If you’re saying externally, ‘We’re going to have all these 10 big commitments and we are 1,000% behind them,’ but internally that’s not lived or you’re not making those differences, those actions and those commitments? That is really going to be a problem, not only a challenge reputationally but a challenge to your employee experience and attracting really strong candidates from across every sector,” Colella-Graham said.

Measurement is a tool for making sure your audio matches your video, she added, because it documents how those actions and commitments have made a difference—or how they haven’t.

“What gets measured gets done,” she said.

2. Measuring your appeal to diverse candidates.

Freddie Mac measures employee diversity with a variety of metrics, including demographics, employee feedback, employee turnover rate, DE&I event participation rates and diverse candidate attraction. There are many KPIs communicators can use to measure the diversity of their recruitment practices, Dawson said.

“You can be looking at the number of diverse candidates that are part of your interviews. It could be the number of diverse people on the interview panel, or the number of offers extended to diverse candidates,” he explained. “It can also be the number of job descriptions that you’ve rewritten to use inclusive language.”

Colella-Graham added that employee sentiment can also be a valuable metric.

“There’s sentiment on [employer review site] Glassdoor now,” she said. “How many diverse candidates are you actually attracting and are you creating a candidate experience for them that matters?”

 3. Crowdsource internal commitments with employee feedback.

While focus groups, surveys and other listening tools remain effective ways for measuring employee feedback on your DE&I efforts, Dawson stressed that quick pulse checks through the year should be easy to complete and transparently shared. Freddie Mac uses a pulse listening tool to ask how it can address systemic racism and collect employee input.

“There’s a series of ranked questions and a single open-ended question,” Dawson said. “Those results are transparent to all employees at an aggregate level, and they can even vote on that open-ended question.”

More than 50% of Freddie Mac’s workforce identifies as a race or ethnicity other than white. Because of this, they are able to collect diverse perspectives that drive action on their D&I strategy.

4. Treat participation as a metric.

If employees don’t’ participate in your periodic surveys, the lack of data can point to an absence of open forums where employees feel a sense of psychological safety. Employee resource groups (ERGs) can provide a voluntary avenue for employee feedback, as can town halls and supplemental events.

“You know how you’re approaching your diverse value proposition as an employer, including the number of participants and number of events,” said Colella-Graham. “If you have a speaker come in, 11 people signed up and 10 people attended the event, you’ve got a measurement there. Signups and attendees on virtual events are absolutely a measurement.”

“Your DE&I colleague or expert would be looking at the participation rates, and sometimes [it could be] more granular [if[ they want to see more senior leader participation at these events,” Dawson added. “As a communicator you would be looking at the target audience, open rates, or click-through rates of your event promotion materials, and then perhaps doing some A/B testing to see some better ways to engage that target audience.”

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