In recent years, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a red-hot topic among employers and human resources professionals who plan and manage these initiatives. The tumultuous past few years have reshaped perceptions about when, where and how we work. Meanwhile, ongoing social unrest is challenging organizations everywhere to more deeply consider how their policies, practices, values and norms affect people from all walks of life. As a result, interest in DEI analytics is skyrocketing.
With diversity initiatives on the rise, employers recognize they must have the ability to measure progress. Currently, DEI programs are underway at an estimated 80% of U.S. companies. And although the business world is seeing some improvement, there’s still a long way to go.
For instance, organizations that don’t prioritize a culture of inclusion continue to put their brand at risk. Some have already faced serious public backlash — not to mention costly legal ramifications from discriminatory hiring, compensation, and management practices. In short, no matter where your organization is on the DEI investment spectrum, access to relevant analytics is essential.
Defining DEI Analytics
Every organization can benefit from knowing if employees are experiencing unfair or inequitable treatment. DEI analytics tools and processes add value by converting HR data into actionable insights about related issues. For example, these tools can help you:
- Develop metrics to detect decision-making bias, unequal access, unfair treatment, and discrimination based on gender, race, disability, religion and/or sexual orientation.
- Analyze data patterns to discover where employees face opportunity barriers. In other words, you can compare staff development and mobility statistics across groups with different traits and compensation levels, independent of individual performance or other factors.
- Track and compare key DEI indicators to determine if your workforce is representative of the labor market in your industry.
Together, these capabilities make it possible to identify and resolve specific DEI issues and also evaluate your organization’s performance over time.
The Value of DEI Analytics
As Jeff Higgins, CEO of HCMI says, “Leveraging diversity data to empower decisions or action is perennially easy to say but hard to do.” True. Developing a coherent, reliable dashboard can be a complex process. But organizations can no longer afford to get by with hunches or incomplete data. Too much is at stake.
There are many other reasons to embrace DEI analytics. Here are three examples:
- Data-based analytics reports make it possible to enforce discrimination laws in Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. By protecting fundamental civil rights, employers play a vital role in preserving our society.
- For organizations that want a talent acquisition edge, DEI intelligence is highly beneficial. Younger generations expect workplace equality. And inclusive cultures attract top talent. If candidates think your employee base lacks diversity or your track record in advancing underrepresented groups is weak, they might conclude that you’re out of touch. But data that highlights DEI strength can prove that you stand by your values.
- Improving diversity policies and practices can directly boost your bottom line. In today’s business world, investors see greater value in companies with strong environmental, social, and corporate governance propositions. And the most effective, efficient way to benchmark these policies and track improvement over time is with DEI analytics.
How DEI Misconceptions Hinder Analytics
Several fallacies in the HR community sometimes keep businesses from implementing DEI analytics initiatives. The primary misunderstanding is that DEI policies enforce “hiring quotas” and place a premium on race or gender, rather than candidate quality.
On the contrary — proper diversity plans ensure that hiring and advancement opportunities for underrepresented groups are proportionate to the pool of available candidates. Combined with appropriate employee selection and promotion assessments, organizations can have confidence that they’re making these decisions with a high degree of fairness and equity.
Bottom-Line DEI Statistics
For employers who want to measure DEI performance, countless metrics are available. For example, “pulse” surveys are a popular way to calibrate employee sentiment about belonging and inclusion. What matters most when choosing baseline metrics is that they accurately reflect the state of equity and inclusion across your workforce.
Below are three measures that can help ensure that you are prioritizing DEI in an effective and legally compliant way. Once these metrics confirm that you’ve reached parity with comparable organizations, you can move on to more advanced and nuanced options such as pulse surveys.
When setting DEI goals, it’s important to consider representation in your talent pipeline, relative to the labor market at-large. A great way to apply DEI analytics in recruitment is to measure whether your efforts actually reflect the qualified labor market in your area.
For example, if 20% of your local population includes qualified African-American candidates, then you would expect about 20% of your company’s candidates to be African American. However, if you’re hiring for remote roles, your labor market could be nationwide or even global.
2. Hiring and Promotion
Simply hiring diverse candidates is not enough. To truly address diversity representation, you’ll want to ensure that women and people of color are distributed throughout all levels of your workforce.
A common mistake employers make when trying to boost diversity representation is to ignore where women and people of color are located in their organizational structure. It might be easier to achieve broad representation goals when women and people of color dominate your lowest ranks. But for DEI success, all tiers of your organizational structure should reflect the available labor market.
3. Compensation and Pay Equity
It’s also important to know if employees in similar roles are being compensated equally, after considering relevant factors such as time on the job and overall performance. For example, in the U.S., women earn about 20% less than men, on average. But employers are increasingly addressing disparities like this with pay equity initiatives. In other words, all employees performing the same type of work at the same level in an organization receive the same compensation, after relevant pay practice factors are considered.
The right metrics can help you ensure that all employees are paid fairly. While discrimination in the workplace continues to remain a significant issue, today’s biases are largely unintentional. If you don’t track DEI metrics properly, you may not even be aware that implicit discrimination like unequal pay is an ongoing issue.
A Final Note on DEI Analytics
Advancing DEI initiatives is simply the right thing to do. But organizations can no longer leave inclusion to chance. The best way to ensure that you’re on track is to make decisions based on hard data and accurate analysis. As the old adage goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
By including DEI metrics in recruiting and compensation discussions, your company can maintain modern business standards while gradually becoming more diverse and inclusive. Along the way, you can make better-informed decisions that will keep existing employees happy, engaged, and committed to fairness and inclusion.