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5 DEI metrics that matter


Anthony Santa Maria

The biggest mistake we see companies make when scaling their diversity and inclusion programs? Not measuring DEI metrics beyond the hiring process. 

Having a diverse pool of qualified candidates is of course important when recruiting, but the most successful forward-thinking organizations track diversity and inclusion at all stages of the employee lifecycle. That means throughout onboarding, performance reviews, compensation decisions, and succession planning.

DEI Metrics to Track

Keeping track of DEI metrics throughout an employee’s tenure at your company can help you spotlight barriers or highlight successes for your programs. With these metrics, you can measure the impact and ROI of DEI efforts, develop accountability, and ensure transparency.

Here are 5 key DEI metrics to measure when assessing your company’s DEI progress:

1. Hiring biases

If you’re attracting diverse candidates to your hiring pool, but your team is still not diverse, biases in the hiring process may be responsible. Certain methods of assessing potential candidates (on paper, in person, and even with AI) are riddled with bias against underrepresented folks. 

A recent study showed that candidates who submit CVs with “Black sounding” names are less likely to get interviews. Prioritizing hiring people who went to certain schools, or requiring “prior industry experience” in entry-level roles where internships are often unpaid, unfairly excludes a huge group of qualified candidates. 

How to amend this? Obviously there’s no easy, single solution. But there are ways to standardize your selection process to reduce the potential influence of bias. 

  • Consider reviewing CVs “blind” without names attached
  • Standardize interviews with a clear rubric and templated questions 
  • Give a work sample test 

And critically – collect data throughout the entirety of the process. If the numbers suggest that diverse candidates are disproportionately losing out when compared to others with similar qualifications, follow up with your hiring team. 

2. Retention

Retention is the #1 operational priority for organizations. If you find that people of a certain demographic are quitting in disproportionate numbers, consider that they may be responding to a non-inclusive work environment. 

When employees quit, companies tend to assume that their decision was driven by a “hard line” factor like compensation. But this often isn’t the case. 

A McKinsey report found that the top factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organizations (54 percent) or didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51 percent). Notably, employees who classified themselves as non-white or multiracial were more likely than their white counterparts to say they had left because they didn’t feel they belonged at their companies.

This means you can improve your retention rates by making workers feel valued. In addition to compensating fairly and offering workplace flexibility, we’ve found that investing in empathetic leadership training and next-gen learning & development goes a long way in fostering a culture of open and honest communication. 

3. Employee engagement

Understanding the drivers of employee engagement helps companies foster a fulfilling employee experience. If you find that your people are burning out or checking out, consider re-tooling your processes with a focus on feedback and recognition —  two of the most overlooked drivers of employee engagement.

Top employers reward good work not just with bonuses and promotions, but by saying “thank you” and “good job” often. Without positive reinforcement, high-performing employees will feel unappreciated and begin to disengage. Regular pulse surveys are one easy way to collect data on your core engagement drivers and identify pain points.

4. Pay equity

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently conducted a study on pay equity and found that across experience and education levels, Black men and women continue to make less than their white counterparts, as low as 76 cents on the dollar. Despite countless efforts to dismantle pay ceilings and improve pay transparency, biases continue to factor into compensation models, often taking the shape of requests for “salary history.” 

Conducting a pay audit — or assessing how pay gaps break across gender and racial lines —  is one way to gain insight into the biases that may be unfairly influencing your company’s compensation structures.

5. Career advancement and internal mobility

In 2020, companies such as Meta attracted attention by making landmark commitments to increase BIPOC representation among leadership (vowing to increase representation by 30% by 2025.) And while these commitments clearly represent a step in the right direction, they fail to detail where these new diverse leaders will come from. Will they be recruited externally? Or will companies invest the time and resources to nurture diverse talent and source them from within?

If your company lacks BIPOC representation at the senior level, you may want to consider scaling opportunities for internal mobility. According to a McKinsey report, Black employees are 23% less likely to say they receive “a lot” or “quite a bit” of support to advance at work, 41% less likely to view promotions in their workplace as fair, and 39% less likely to believe their company’s diversity and inclusion efforts are effective, compared to their white counterparts working at the same company.

To bridge the promotion gap, companies like Merck are launching dedicated employee resource groups (ERGs) to help BIPOC professionals network, upskill and advance. 

Measuring DEI metrics matters

For companies serious about building an equitable and inclusive culture, it’s mission-critical to understand the impact of your DEI efforts across every step in the employee journey. By tracking the DEI metrics above, you can gain insight into what’s working and identify areas for improvement.

To learn more about how to show impact from your DEI programs, check out our recent guidebook. 

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