The past year has been one of tremendous turbulence and tumult. The good news is that many organizations have begun to look inwards at their own policies, practices, and organizational cultures and have made deep commitments to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). If this sounds like you, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll show you how to set realistic, achievable DEI goals, measure progress towards those goals, and make sure your organization reflects, champions, and celebrates America’s diversity.
What do we mean when we talk about DEI in the workplace? Simply put, we’re describing any actions taken by employers to create meaningful change that will address the marginalization of underrepresented groups within the workplace. That means making sure that everyone has the same opportunities to get hired, be promoted to management, contribute to your organization, and be paid fairly, regardless of their gender identity, their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, or any other characteristic.
Many companies make public commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but make little real progress. One of the problems is that these three distinct terms are treated as interchangeable, and there is a lack of understanding about what each really means for breaking down the barriers and obstacles to fairness in the workplace. Before you start to intentionally set DEI goals and implement supporting initiatives, it's important to get the terminology right. After all, if we don’t know what DEI really means, then how can we come up with clear strategies to pursue it, and how can we know if we’ve achieved it? Once you understand the different dimensions of DEI, you can begin to create meaningful goals and strategies that will drive representation, inclusion, and fair outcomes for all. Let’s break it down.
If you’ve already made a commitment to DEI, you’ve taken the first step on a challenging road. That’s because DEI is about so much more than a public proclamation, or the writing up of a new policy. Gestures like this are a good start, but if you are to see real change, you’ll need to follow them up with a plan for implementing specific DEI initiatives, and measuring their impact. That means setting some ambitious but achievable DEI goals, and tracking progress towards those goals. If you do this, not only will you put yourself in the best possible position to drive change, but you’ll also be demonstrating your values and commitments to your workforce and other stakeholders.
How should goals be determined? The starting point is to think about what you want to achieve from your DEI program and initiatives. If you’ve already created a DEI strategy, you can also pull your goals from there. However, if you haven’t, this information can be gleaned from talking to your workforce to get feedback and ideas, and to learn where the gaps lie. Below, we go into more detail about how you can capture insight from your employees and other stakeholders using a survey. You can also get inspiration on how to conduct DEI research here.
Once you’ve gathered your data, you’ll be able to identify where you’re lagging, and where you want to make progress. For a comprehensive DEI strategy, you should be determining goals for each of the three areas:
You can then use the results, either in aggregate or independently, to gain insight into how inclusive your organizational culture really is.
Combining this data with demographic metrics can be a major eye opener into your progress towards your DEI goals.
If you’re just beginning on your DEI journey, the first thing you’ll need to do is to establish some benchmarks. These are simply points of reference or standard against which your metrics can be compared or assessed. There are three main types of benchmark we recommend:
Once you have data on this and other metrics of interest, you have a baseline to compare progress as you embark on your DEI journey. Regularly gathering the same data over time will allow you to see the impact of your initiatives—giving you something to celebrate and further motivate your workforce, or helping you to understand what isn’t working.
A starting point for your research is an employee survey, which can gather information on your workers’ feelings about inclusion and opportunities, their perceptions of the organizational culture, and their experiences (more on that below). However, don’t overlook the other data at your fingertips. Other useful sources of information include:
Need more inspiration? Take a look at this article on how different companies undertake their own DEI-focused research to inspire their goals and strategies.
Diversity, equity and inclusion surveys are a great way to track and measure DEI in the workplace. Although you’ll be able to gather some insight into your organizational culture and the impact on your employees from surveys like employee engagement surveys, only a specially designed diversity, equity, and inclusion survey will help you get a full picture. If you’re curious, you can learn how we did this here. A DEI-focused survey can help you gather:
We have a range of templates available to get you started. And, once you’ve designed your survey, you can re-run it quarterly or annually, to track progress on your key metric. If this seems overwhelming, SurveyMonkey HR solutions can help you gather a vast range of employee level data, with anonymity settings that will empower your employees to really speak their minds.
So you’ve set some DEI goals and metrics and started to measure progress towards those goals. The next step is to apply some existing best practices to accelerate your progress and make sure your DEI focus becomes a movement—not just a moment. Here are some tips.
For more ideas about how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace, we’ve prepared this handy guide.