Every day, more organizations recognize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to improve employee journeys and drive business results. But to know whether these initiatives are successful, organizations need to be able to track progress and measure outcomes. That’s why an effective DEI analytics strategy is the key to achieving your organization’s DEI goals.
Discover what DEI analytics can do for your organization and how to develop and implement an effective strategy.
How Does DEI Relate to Data Analytics?
Data analytics help HR and DEI teams better understand the dynamics and evolution of their organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Data analytics can provide valuable insights into which initiatives are succeeding and which may need to be reworked.
That’s a seismic shift from DEI programs of the past, which have often been viewed as “fuzzy” and challenging to measure. Progress on organizational DEI is often measured in terms of tangible and easy-to-capture metrics, such as the number of employees of a certain gender, race, or ethnicity.
But such metrics don’t always accurately capture the impact of DEI initiatives. For example, cultural shifts — such as a shift toward inclusion and a greater respect for diversity — aren’t always easy to quantify. A more comprehensive DEI analytics strategy weaves together additional data points (such as surveys on engagement or culture) to produce a more detailed story.
3 Benefits of Implementing DEI Analytics
Implementing DEI analytics at work can help organizations gain valuable insights into how their workplace culture functions. Here are three benefits of applying DEI data analytics.
Measure Your Progress
Analytics help organizations better understand the effectiveness of their DEI initiatives, both now and over time, and determine what changes are needed to reach their goals. There are many ways to rely on analytics — track changes in minority group representation or assess whether desired outcomes were achieved. You can also measure the impact of DEI initiatives in areas such as employee engagement, job satisfaction and employee performance.
For example, if your company has a goal of achieving an equitable representation of female employees in engineering, you can track changes in the gender diversity of the department over time. You can also use DEI-related data points to track other important metrics, such as the number of employees from underrepresented groups who have been promoted to leadership positions.
An accurate record of DEI progress is especially important for organizations subject to Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations. In case of an audit, providing up-to-date and accurate records of the steps you’ve taken to improve DEI will decrease the risk of being found noncompliant.
Make Data-Driven Decisions
Data-driven DEI decisions are easier when you have a robust DEI analytics program to help your organization uncover trends, correlations, and patterns in the workforce data that inform decision-making.
Organizations can use analytics to understand how their recruitment processes and job postings are affecting DEI outcomes. For example, your HR department is expanding beyond all-purpose job boards, such as Indeed or LinkedIn, to also target niche job boards, such as The Mom Project. Analytics can help you quantify your candidate pool’s demographic differences before and after this change. The resulting data analysis can help you decide whether niche job boards help attract a more diverse slate of candidates.
Empower Targeted Action
DEI analytics can provide insight into areas such as recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse employees, as well as areas of potential discrimination. This type of analysis can also identify areas of DEI opportunity within your organization’s customer base and stakeholders.
Make sure you have enough high-quality information — ideally from multiple sources, such as surveys, interviews and focus groups. Once these data sources have been collected, analyzed and displayed on an easy-to-read dashboard, you can identify trends and discrepancies that will inform future action.
Perhaps you find that men are over-represented in leadership than women because they’re historically more likely to be promoted. Equipped with this knowledge, you can further examine the root cause of the discrepancy and address it.
3 Barriers to an Effective DEI Analytics Strategy
Implementing a DEI analytics strategy involves a lot of moving parts — and that means a lot of potential for problems to arise. Check out these common barriers to an effective DEI analytics strategy and how to address them in your organization.
Silos Prevent Diversity Data Collection
Data silos are a major obstacle to an effective DEI analytics strategy. These are isolated repositories of data that aren't accessible or shared with other divisions or departments. Data silos usually stem from disconnected HR systems. You might have all your hiring data stored in your applicant tracking system, for example. But without a unified HR information system (HRIS) connecting your tech solutions, that information might not sync with other key systems, including your performance management software.
Data silos cause a lack of visibility into your DEI initiatives, making it harder to measure impact and progress. Additionally, data silos can cause a lack of standardization in data collection and analysis, meaning that the data collected may not be comparable against past periods. Without aligned data over time, you’re more likely to draw inaccurate or incomplete conclusions from your DEI analytics efforts.
Diversity Goals That Aren’t Measurable
Measurable goals are objectives that you can track and quantify. They’re important for setting expectations, maintaining motivation and gauging strategic effectiveness.
Without measurable goals, it’s hard to properly track key performance indicators, much less make conclusions about the impact of DEI efforts and investments.
People Analytics Are Underdeveloped
An underdeveloped people analytics function may not have the necessary tools and techniques to measure outcomes related to DEI. For example, without the right metrics and reporting capabilities, tracking DEI progress is difficult, at best.
Additionally, an immature people analytics function may not have the necessary staffing or expertise to draw meaningful insights from the data. If you don’t understand your data and how to analyze it, you risk drawing incorrect conclusions and making poor data-driven decisions. While many HR professionals are building out their function for people analytics capabilities, not every organization is at that level yet.
5 Steps to Developing a DEI Analytics Strategy
You can’t make meaningful progress toward your DEI goals without tracking progress and where you have room to improve. Here are five steps for beginning a DEI analytics strategy in your business.
Start With Clear Goals and Metrics
A successful DEI analytics strategy starts with clear goals and metrics, as well as a strong business case. To start, take your cue from the overall DEI vision and how it compares with organizational values and objectives. By aligning your DEI analytics strategy with business goals, you have a better chance of getting buy-in and funding from senior leaders.
For example, one of your DEI analytics objectives is figuring out how to collect and analyze employee feedback about DEI initiatives. Part of developing a DEI analytics strategy is collecting the right data points and putting them into the right format — achieving this goal means you’ve made progress toward your DEI data infrastructure.
Once objectives are established, think about what data and metrics you should track. These could include demographic information related to diversity, employee satisfaction surveys and many other possibilities.
Your DEI analytics strategy has a better chance of meeting each affected group’s needs when you include relevant stakeholders in the planning process. The first step in engaging stakeholders is identifying them — employees, management, customers, vendors or anyone else affected. Gather feedback through surveys, focus groups and interviews.
Review and analyze their feedback. This will help you to determine what's important to them and how their feedback should be incorporated into your DEI analytics strategy.
Collect Relevant Data
Data is the foundation of any successful analytics strategy. Start by identifying which data sources you need to track changes in DEI. This plan should include quantitative and qualitative data, ensuring you have a wide range of data points and can construct a holistic view of the organization’s DEI progress. This step can be difficult, so many companies opt to bring on a consultant who specializes in DEI analytics to help them identify the right data points.
Invest in a comprehensive HRIS that integrates with other HR systems so you can pull relevant data collected in the flow of work into a unified dashboard. Once you’ve cataloged existing data, you can develop surveys, interview questions and focus groups to fill any knowledge gaps.
Apply Data to Make Decisions
Once the data has been collected, an expert DEI consultant can help you analyze it to identify patterns or trends that may be affecting DEI initiatives. For example, your organization might look for discrepancies in the number of promotions given to employees of certain ethnicities or in resource availability for different employee groups. Organizations might have historical data or educated guesses about DEI priorities, but rich data analysis can provide more valuable insights into where the DEI strategy needs improvement.
Use your data analysis to inform decisions about DEI initiatives, including what areas to prioritize and how you’ll address those areas. Resulting actions could include introducing new policies, improving access to resources, or providing additional training to ensure a more diverse and inclusive culture.
Assess Your Results and Adjust
Once you’ve implemented your DEI analytics strategy, assess its impact on the organization by tracking the metrics you initially selected. Data from employee surveys, customer feedback and financial performance are just some of the ways you can gain evidence of your DEI analytics strategy’s effectiveness.
From there, make adjustments as needed. These changes could focus on root causes, such as company policies or culture. In some cases, you might reassess how you’re measuring progress or which DEI metrics are prioritized. Stay up to date with the latest DEI trends so your strategy continues to meet the latest needs of the organization and its employees. Regular assessment and adjustments are an important part of keeping your DEI analytics strategy on track.
Power Positive Change With DEI Analytics
DEI analytics is an important tool for building a more equitable workplace. When you have comprehensive data and can turn that information into action items, you empower better decision-making and create more inclusive policies for a more diverse and equitable workplace. Ultimately, DEI analytics can help you cultivate a workplace that's welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, or other factors.
Want to learn more? Start your DEI journey with Berkshire.