DEI goals: identifying AND measuring

Over the past few years years, the area of diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) has become increasingly top of mind for many organizations.

But where do you start? And once you’ve got going, how do you know if you’re doing it right?

The thing is, there’s no such thing as a step-by-step guide to DEI. There are many narratives to look at and resources to refer to. But diversity equity and inclusion is different for every organization. This puts the onus firmly in your court, requiring you to pick up and run with a concept that can be perceived as a little aspirational and somewhat intangible.

To this end, it doesn’t help that diversity equity and inclusion is going to mean something different for every business. But the necessity to take DEI goals and initiatives seriously is the same across the board. This leaves many teams with good intentions to plan and implement a DEI strategy, but unsure how to use existing HR data to advance the cause.

Identifying Your DEI Goals is One Thing, Measuring Them is Something Else!

It all comes down to this… Whether you’re a Hiring Manager looking to ensure diversity across your candidate pool, or an HR leader concerned with attrition rates or lack of growth opportunities for diverse hires, unpacking and understanding data from your HR systems is likely going to be an important part of the process.

And truthfully, things can get a bit complex and messy, before you’ve even had chance to get off the ground. This is because the standard tools of the trade aren’t quite sophisticated enough to do what you need them to.

Here’s why – and how you can navigate any current obstacles.

Is Your Current Data Analysis Capability Fit for Purpose?

The first step to identifying your DEI goals is knowing where to look. For example, you might need to unearth different pieces of information from different systems, such as any HRIS, HCM, LMS, payroll or talent acquisition systems you currently use.

Here’s where you might hit a brick wall before you’ve hardly got started. You see, it’s so important to extract these rich data seams locked away in your existing system/s. Otherwise, all this ‘big data’ can’t serve you, when it’s buried in non-integrated systems that don’t interrelate.

Think of it like the saying: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”. You’ve got ‘it’, in abundance. But it can’t shine. Why not? Because drawing up a diversity equity and inclusion program starts with combining the various data sets you’ve already got. And you’re really hard pressed to do that, when your data is all over the place!

Highlighting gaps and revealing biases calls for careful incorporation, fusing and blending of key metrics, such as:

  • Demographics
  • Learning & development (L&D)
  • Remuneration

In addition, it also means going a step further. It’s not just data collection, because aggregated data, e.g. headcounts, doesn’t help you develop a strategy, whereas different kinds of data dimensions do.

So, instead of thinking in one-dimensional terms, planning a DEI strategy requires looking beyond surface data towards various combinations of elements, such as:

  • Remuneration
  • Performance v KPIs
  • Tenure
  • Attrition
  • L&D
  • Promotion / Progression

Take the recruitment process as an example. You might assume that a low headcount of a particular underrepresented group is down to a lack of diverse hires. That might not necessarily be so. But how do you know? How and where do you find out?

The point is, you need tools at your fingertips that work your data harder and enable you to get the bottom of what’s really happening. But you can’t do this if you’re stuck comparing apples with apples.

Comparing Variables and Different Factors to Extract Rich Data

Identifying your organization’s DEI priorities calls for a more all-encompassing and broad reaching way to analyze your data sets.

Taking a deep dive into your data, identifying and documenting the baseline is obviously a good start. But depending on where the patterns emerge, the outcomes might be very different.

The good news is, the answers you seek can be found in your existing data. You’re just not equipped yet with the right apparatus to yield the next level of analysis from your bumper data crops.

Former CDO and founder of DSRD Consulting Dr. Sam Rae speaks of “intersectionality” in terms of moving diversity equity and inclusion forward. She recently expanded on the concept in Sharon Hurley Hall’s Senior Executive article 9 Ways to Measure the Success of Your DEI Strategy in 2023:  

“To use a lens of intersectionality means to center those who are most marginalized. In other words, focusing on those who have the most intersecting need of resources and accommodations allows you to create equity for everyone and create a comprehensive strategy.”

What does this mean in real terms? Well, you might currently be able to generate metrics around, say, the number of diverse employees from underrepresented groups in senior roles.

But you’re not able to drill down further, to gain a deeper understanding of the intersection Rae describes. To do so, you need answers to more probing questions, such as:

  • Diverse candidate attraction and conversion through the recruitment funnel
  • Learning and development opportunities for diverse employees
  • Tenure of diverse employees
  • Consideration of diverse employees in succession planning

And taking it a step further, how about segmenting, slicing and dicing these horizontals by a range of verticals? For example, by:

  • Underrepresented group
  • Role
  • Department or geographical Division
  • Hiring Manager

At the end of the day, what you might have thought was a hiring problem could turn out to be a retention problem caused by unconscious bias in a particular area. So, the programs you choose to develop can be massively influenced by this analysis.

In addition, there’s the not so small matter of measurement to think about.

How to Measure Your DEI Goals When Patterns and Gaps Emerge

What’s the best way to monitor progress against your DEI initiatives in the areas such as:

  • Diversity across the candidate pipeline?
  • Diversity across departments?
  • Diversity as it relates to growth opportunities or attrition?

Having a way to maintain and continue analysis on data from disparate systems might be the most effective way to do this quickly and efficiently.

After all, diversity equity and inclusion initiatives aren’t one and done projects. They’re becoming more and more important to the fabric of your organization’s culture and overall business strategy – tied directly to specific business outcomes.

In a period of economic uncertainty, understanding the DEI implications at each stage of the employee journey is critical. Having a unified view of your HR data (and the diversity equity and inclusion goals it leads to), regardless of the systems it might be in, is therefore also critical. A DEI analytics system might just be the answer.

HireRoad’s PeopleInsight by HireRoad pulls together and harmonizes data across different HR systems. As a result, you’re empowered to uncover your key metrics, identify your DEI goals, plus measure and benchmark their success or any risk areas.  

Intrigued? Why not get in touch and take a look at some of the compelling ways PeopleInsight by HireRoad unburdens your HR recruitment teams and turns analytics in to advantage.