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How to upgrade your DEI metrics to influence change

We find ourselves amid the largest talent shortage in history after a year in which countless organizations voiced their commitments to diversity. Yet few have made much progress -- and 76% of organizations have still not set diversity goals for 2022.

Over the last few years, we’ve been studying the hiring practices of hundreds of employers and written about the impact of the Great Resignation on DEI. We’ve found a consistent pattern across the board: Employers are anchoring the focus to lagging indicators around diversity that won’t influence any change.

What are the missing metrics for DEI?

Traditionally, organizations have focused their DEI efforts — including goals and measurements — on increasing diversity and a sense of belonging on their teams.

The challenge? These two metrics are centered completely around end outcomes without accounting for the actual activities necessary to achieve them. Most organizations are missing a theory of change for their diversity efforts to account for what actions need to happen to move the needle in a meaningful way. This depends on answering two new questions:

  • Are our systems equitable? This is the extent to which our processes are fair, consistent and accessible for everyone, directly impacting whether people advance.

  • Are our people aware, engaged and accountable for DEI? This is the collective awareness, engagement and accountability for DEI across our teams.

Putting these new metrics into practice

It is clear that the challenges are daunting and creating roadblocks to change, but for those who want to be part of the 24% setting diversity goals this year, here are three key areas that can help transform the landscape for DEI in 2022:

Measure the current state of diversity to learn where to focus your goals

Organizations often set unrealistic DEI goals — either too ambitious or not challenging enough. Before you create your DEI goals, you’ll have to figure out where you have gaps and what you should prioritize.

  • Assess your existing organizational policies and practices to determine where you have gaps or potential for bias by walking through the candidate and employee journey. Solutions like our Equal Hiring Index can help you gain a complete picture in these areas.

  • Examine the current diversity representation of your existing team and the extent to which your team is included and engaged in DEI efforts through an anonymous survey.

  • Use the combined insights above to determine up to five areas where you have the most opportunity to improve.

Ensure your DEI goals holistically account for diversity, equity and inclusion

Since employers typically only center their DEI goals around increasing representation, ensure your goals are holistic to also account for your people, processes and representation.

  • Identify your greatest gaps and opportunities in improving the equity and accessibility in your hiring and talent process.

  • Identify the critical path in your team’s involvement in this effort, starting with awareness and followed by being equipped, engaged and accountable.

  • Identify where you have the greatest opportunity to increase representation: You may choose to address this goal with a framework or process-based goal.

Bring your team on board from the beginning

In the spirit of the true inclusion of your team in these goals, you will want to ensure they are part of building them from the start. This is how you’ll create excitement and accountability around reaching these goals. Here are some ways to bring your team on board in the process.

  • Create shared ownership by including your team in goal-setting meetings and conversations, whether through direct involvement or through working groups.

  • Listen to your team’s vision for DEI and be sure to engage your existing employee resource groups or diversity councils, if you have them, and learn where their passions lie.

  • Create a system to track and report DEI progress.

  • Make reports and goals available to employees and stakeholders.

  • Make goals and data available to everyone internally and, if possible, share externally.

  • Distribute DEI accountability across the whole organization.

  • Reward your team for hitting DEI milestones.

A call to action for 2022

As the saying goes, we can’t manage what we can’t measure. As we step back to consider our diversity efforts, it’s clear that measuring outcomes alone doesn’t ensure we make progress on them. Instead, we need to focus on the actual activities necessary to drive the change we want to see -- the equity of our systems and inclusion of our people.

With the new year beginning, this is the perfect time to have a conversation with our teams on the new goals we can set. Let’s make 2022 not only a year when we measure diversity outcomes — let’s actually advance them.