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Assessing Your Current DEI Initiatives

The events of the past year and half have prompted many organizations to make significant changes in their diversity, equity, and inclusion (‘DEI’) efforts. Remember – we initially started this conversation with how to select the right DEI facilitator, but what happens next? Once you get the proverbial ball rolling, how do you assess whether or not your DEI efforts have been successful? 

Before we dive in, I want to remind you that DEI work is not linear nor does it ever reach a “finish line”. It is a journey that we commit ourselves to taking for the long haul, with the understanding that ultimately we are working within systems of oppression that continue to thrive outside of the workplace. As a result, these systems are often replicated within our organizations, departments, and teams, and must be constantly addressed and thwarted as they evolve. To assist with the long term planning and implementation of DEI initiatives, many companies opt to develop a DEI team that includes members from all levels and varying expertise. This team would also have the important task of assessing the company’s efforts such as the effectiveness of training, retention data, salary comparisons, and so on. 

In order to have full awareness of the initiatives that are working and those that aren’t, it’s important to capture data from employees, stakeholders, and customers. This could include surveys before and after DEI workshops, exit interviews, annual salary reviews, customer satisfaction surveys, and/or workplace climate assessments. While these can be conducted in-house, bringing in a third party that specializes in the accumulation and analysis of this data could be a meaningful investment as you consider your long-term DEI goals. This organization can assist with developing realistic goals and check-points that your company can strive for throughout the year. And while, as we said before, the work is never really “done”, it is helpful to be able to measure how far your company has come as you navigate your DEI journey. 

How it looks in action

Let’s run through a hypothetical case study to show how measurement and assessment of DEI initiatives could play out in one situation: Your company has recently established a DEI committee to help support and oversee your fledgling initiatives. The committee has decided to start reviewing your existing recruiting and hiring practices as a first step. After reviewing staffing data, they found that only 10% of your company’s employees self-identified as members of a racial minority. As a result, the committee developed the following goal to address this issue:

We will increase the diversity of our workforce by 30% within the next fiscal year in order to be in alignment with our core value of providing the most innovative team to meet customer needs.”

With that goal in mind, the committee then developed ways to improve their existing sourcing efforts to be able to reach a more diverse applicant pool. Let’s take a look at what they did:

  1. The team developed a clear diversity statement and posted it on the company website.
  2. Upon analysis of the application process, they found that the company was receiving a small number of external applicants for each position that was posted. To increase the number of applicants and intentionally source more diverse job-seekers, they worked with job boards like HBCU 20×20 and Jopwell.
  3. In order to ensure that the hiring process was unbiased, they invested in Applied, a recruitment software platform committed to improving the diversity of applicants. This also allowed the committee to review process data quarterly and identify where applicants were dropping from the recruiting funnel, in particular those from underrepresented identities. 
  4. Upon hire, new employees were given intake surveys that were completed anonymously to get firsthand information about the recruitment process and measure against the internal data collected.
  5. The committee plans to continue to conduct this data collection and review the numbers on a quarterly basis to be able to understand how their efforts are doing, and readjust if need be.

As you can see, assessing your DEI initiatives takes time and intentionality. Though we all would like to see change immediately, disrupting existing systems and processes doesn’t happen overnight. The good news is that you can play an active role in developing new and equitable processes that will have a positive impact on people in meaningful ways, long after your time with the company has come to an end. And if you get stuck along the way, we’re here to help