Welcome back to our “Making DEI Programs Actionable” series. In Part 1 we covered the definition of DEI terms, why DEI programs are top of mind for HR professionals, the right reasons to create a DEI program, and the first two steps – Strategize and Benchmark – to take to start building your DEI program. 

Under Strategize, we discussed where to start when you’re getting ready to build a DEI program, aligning with strategic objectives, and walking the talk. Under Benchmark, we covered how to get feedback from your workforce through surveys and then ensure transparency by sharing insights across the organization.  

Now, in Part 2 of this series, we’re continuing with Step 3: Evaluate and Step 4: Act. So, let’s get going!

Step 3: Evaluate

At this step, you look at the breakdown of your workforce to determine if your company is diverse. This involves gathering more data on what your workforce looks like. Questions you would ask – and data you would gather – include, but aren’t limited to:

  • What gender identities are represented?
  • How many people of color are represented?
  • Does my organization represent the community that it serves?
  • What age demographics are represented?
  • Does my organization enable cognitive diversity?
  • Are most of our employees from the same region, education level, similar backgrounds, or similar experiences? 
  • What is the ratio of men to women, race to race, able-bodied to disabled, Gen X to Gen Z, and so forth?
  • Is our workforce diverse at each level from lowest paid to highest paid employee?
  • What are our retention levels and employee satisfaction scores for these diverse groups?
  • Are our customers satisfied with our diversity?
  • Are we known for being an inclusive company?

Analyze & Ask Questions To Understand

Once your data is gathered, take some time to analyze and ask more questions to understand why your workforce is composed the way it is. For example, if your employee population is homogenous, you need to understand why. It could be holding your company back, so you need to work on initiatives to recruit more diverse candidates. And, of course, make those employees feel welcome in your company culture. But let’s look at another angle.

What if your organization does have a diverse population, but you have a retention issue. Now what? You need to analyze why that is happening.

  • Is the company culture not welcoming to those of diverse backgrounds?
  • Does the representation in our workforce match the representation in our community?
  • Are our goals attainable based on the diversity of our community?

For example, let’s say one of your DEI goals is to have 30% of your workforce African American. But the population of your community is only 10% African American. It will be difficult to fulfill that 30% goal. Another example is age demographics. Are you hiring a good age range of talent? If your social media team is composed of 20-year-olds, where is your diversity of thought in your posts?

Yes, we understand that gathering, sorting, and analyzing all the data can be overwhelming and time-consuming. But don’t tackle it all at once. It’s like walking up to a large salad bar and trying to eat everything in one sitting. Consider just eating one plate at a time. Same with data – the best way to start is to understand small pieces at a time, then expand to analyzing more data later. 

Visualize Your Metrics & KPIs

Remember, you need to understand where your company is at. The best way is to build data dashboards, like Employee Cycle’s customizable HR Analytics Dashboard. Here you can visualize all your metrics and KPIs in one place. How often do you think you should track all your data?

We get asked how often and in what cadence HR data should be gathered and analyzed. If you are a small- to medium-sized company, quarterly is an effective way to start. That way you can see trends over time and address issues. However, if your organization is large with frequent changes in the workforce, then you should track your data more often and address issues right away. The key point to remember is to actually look at the data so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

Now that you’ve gathered and analyzed your data, what do you do next? You put it into action!

Step 4: Act

At this stage of building your DEI Program, you’ve learned what the company’s strategic objectives are, you’ve benchmarked your HR data, you’ve evaluated what your current workforce diversity looks like, and you can use your data to identify issues. Now, it’s time to take action.

Establish DEI Success Metrics

Part of building a successful DEI program means you need to understand your metrics and interpret them correctly. Then you build actions around those metrics to create a fair, diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for everyone in your business. However, you don’t want to be a company that simply uses data to meet DEI requirements – that would be missing the mark. 

Again, a DEI program isn’t just a checklist for you to mark off items as they are completed. It goes beyond just hiring many people of color so the company can say, “We increased our hiring rate for people of color from 18% to 48% over the last five years, with a 95% retention rate.” Is that taking into consideration the value and talent they bring to the company? It’s important to take it further to determine answers to questions that dig deeper, such as: 

  • What position levels did they hire for? 
  • Are people of color in executive leadership positions? 
  • Are these diverse new employees allowed to contribute to the decision-making of the organization? 
  • Do these employees feel a sense of belonging? Do they feel seen, heard, and valued?

Develop Tangible Actions 

Remember back on Step 1 in our last blog where we talked about ensuring your DEI program aligns with your organization’s strategic objectives? This is when we start putting all that together. But you don’t want to spend an entire year on it. Do it iteratively – little bites at a time that keep your momentum moving forward. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all yourself!

Make sure you’re asking for engagement and feedback from your employees. Ask them what’s working and what isn’t. What do they want to see more or less of? Do it in stages to learn as you go, and course correct when needed.

Here’s an example of an action your organization can take to leverage your data for the hiring pipeline:

You’ve identified where an institutional or system barrier is regarding hiring. It’s up to your HR team to ensure that you have standardized processes and policies in place to ensure everyone has an equal playing field. Let’s say you’re a management consulting group and you hire new consultants for middle management that have just immigrated to the country. As you’re evaluating your HR diversity data, it becomes apparent that to move up to the partner level in the organization, employees need to originate their own new business. However, your new hires take quite a while to build relationships with CEOs or Ivy League graduates. With this information in hand, maybe it’s time to revisit and change the rubrics for career progression within your organization.

The point is – don’t wait until you have a perfect plan. Just start!

What To Look Forward To

In our third and final blog of this series, we’ll cover additional steps 5-6 to help you build your DEI program. Keep an eye out! In the meantime, if you’d like to chat with our Data Coaches about how to leverage your DEI data, contact us. We’re here to help!