How to measure progress of workplace inclusion

What metrics can you use to track whether your culture and policies are progressive enough?

How to measure progress of workplace inclusion

You’ll have trouble sustaining your workplace diversity goals if you’ve failed to create a culture of inclusion, said Preet Grewal, head of inclusion and diversity for JAPAC at Twitter.

“At Twitter, we put inclusion first,” Grewal told HRD. “We believe that you can go blue in the face bringing in women or minorities into your organisation, but unless you create a culture of inclusion, where they feel heard and seen, and have a sense of belonging, you won't be able to sustain [the numbers] and you can have a revolving door.”

For instance, if you have a goal of achieving at least 30% representation of women in your company leadership, you might see turnover every year or so, which will constantly force you back to the drawing board in terms of recruiting qualified candidates just to maintain that figure. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t establish any goals. Setting an ideal figure for your organisation to work towards will help leaders and employees monitor progress and focus on the agenda at hand.

READ MORE: Measuring the ROI: How to show diversity’s value

What metrics do you use to track D&I progress?

However, while diversity is a quantifiable concept at the workplace, inclusion can be a little tricky – though not impossible. Grewal shared some metrics her team uses to track inclusion progress at Twitter.

  • Ask I&D questions on regular employee surveys

You can ask a few ‘dedicated questions’ during company-wide employee surveys to find out how your employees feel about the degree of inclusivity in their teams or at the organisation in general. This helps keep the company in check and gives employees a platform to voice their issues or highlight areas to improve on. This is an easy way to gauge how well the organisation is progressing in terms of I&D.

Some simple questions to include are: ‘Do you feel that the company is doing enough for inclusion and diversity?’ ‘What are some areas to improve on?’

  • Monitor engagement of business resource groups (BRG)

As BRGs are typically employee-led, voluntary, and can represent a wide range of interest groups at the organisation, it’s a good avenue to gauge what engages your employees beyond their work lives. Let’s say the BRGs hold events or offer a community platform for minority groups, LGBTs, or women in leadership, you can monitor participation levels over a period of time, for example a year, to see whether your employees are actively engaged on the issue, or if there’s a growing group of allies. As BRGs can grow organically, a steady flow of participants can suggest positive progress.

  • Monitor HR-related employee data

Some critical metrics around inclusion can be recruitment figures, attrition rates, pay equity levels, as well as promotion rates at your company. These data points can lead to impactful reviews around your company culture, as well as fair pay and promotion processes at all levels of the organisation. Grewal said leaders should always be questioning if they’re putting an I&D lens on every stage of the talent planning process to embed progressive practices. She also reminded leaders that “you can’t just leave hiring of women to the recruitment team – you have to be willing to really look at the entire process”.

READ MORE: How to improve inclusion in the workplace

She cautioned, however, that looking at only one data point can offer a skewed perception around your organisation’s culture of inclusion. This is why you should have an idea of everything from individual employee feedback, to BRGs, and data around the entire talent management process, to help you continuously improve the system as well as overall culture.

“These are the easier ways of interjecting inclusion into different parts of the process,” she said. “Look at data, either from inclusion surveys, representation for groups, participation in big events or data on external conversations, like whether people are reaching out to learn about how your company is doing things.

“[Ask yourself] are we being transparent externally about all the work around I&D? Did we receive an employer of choice [recognition] from underrepresented communities? I think all of those data points speak to how we’re progressing.”

READ MORE: Are Asian leaders ‘not good enough’ for global roles?

How to improve leadership accountability?

Besides collecting and analysing critical employee data points, Grewal believes inclusion comes down to how you’re holding leaders accountable for their actions and their efforts towards the company’s goals. You can monitor this during one-on-one appraisals with leaders or by asking the necessary questions around workforce representation. And if you’re managing a diverse region like Asia Pacific, you can sit with local leaders and ask how they’re going to manage the employee feedback from past inclusion surveys.

“Discuss what are some key steps that we can take to improve on I&D,” she said. “Ask, ‘how do you make sure that you have an I&D lens on your larger business results or objectives and key results (OKRs)?’”

READ MORE: CEOs don’t feel responsible for employee performance

If leaders are planning to expand their teams, HR can guide hiring managers to think about whether they're missing any group's viewpoints from their current teams. Also, is there enough representation in their teams to reflect their customer base – for example if your customers are in Southeast Asia, do you have someone on the team who’s had similar cultural understandings and experiences to ensure the product or service remains relevant for the consumer?

“It comes down to thinking about talent planning, especially for many companies and leaders sitting in this region,” she said. “Sometimes we have to be a lot more vocal about making sure that talent from this region is given equal opportunity in a global company. And it’s also an angle to make sure that our leaders are being advocates for inclusion and diversity.”

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