Measuring the Impact of Diversity

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BeingDifferentI always thought that being different was a *good* thing, but we’ve all been conditioned to conform in various ways. There are many studies heralding the business advantages of diversity in the workplace, most notably Catalyst’s infographic listing 39 benefits of Diversity available at http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/diversity-matters. Below are suggestions on what to measure, to help leaders from across the organization ensure that diversity, a cornerstone of innovation, thrives within and throughout the organization.

  1. The most obvious thing to measure is the number of new-recruits. But measuring how these new recruits are different than current staff is also important. Consider diversity in gender, culture, orientation, age, background, and other measures as well.
  2. Another measure is a derivative of the above and often goes un-measured because of it. Measuring the quantity and variety of sources for new recruits helps ensure that a large range of recruits gets considered for employment.
  3. Some companies run programs to attract people of diverse backgrounds to an organization. Whether it’s an innovation competition, a scholarship program, or a community outreach campaign, these types of programs can successfully garner more awareness and more interest from the right people. Measuring the number and impact of corporate programs will also impact the number of job applications received.
  4. If we move on from attraction to retention and development measures, the first thing to consider is the process for identifying high-potentials. Who gets to decide who the high-potentials are? How many leaders are engaged in the process? What’s being measured when identifying these high-potentials? Rare is the organization that has a coordinated, concerted effort to even identify these high-potentials.
  5. Even those organizations who know who their high-potentials are may not have a plan for developing and retaining them! Measure how successful your organization is in developing and retaining people in general, and high-potentials in particular! How will you have a leadership pipeline if you don’t do this?
  6. It’s worth investing in the education of your people in general, and measuring how many of them attend classes and programs and certifications. Emphasize as well *who* gets selected to attend which program, favoring those identified as high-potential.
  7. A strong measure of success for any training and development program (as it is for any corporate initiative) is the engagement and commitment of senior leadership to the cause. Executive participation must go beyond the thoughts and words, but also into specific, committed and ongoing actions which provide funding and resources behind those words.
  8. Retention statistics are important, but look not just at the percentage of retention you have, but more carefully at who’s leaving. Attrition is part of the game when working in a fast-paced tech environment. Focus on and measure the retention of your best-performing high-potentials, even if that means that you might lose an overall volume of people on the team.
  9. If you do all the above well, then there should be more high-performing people with diverse backgrounds in the executive and C-suites. Of course you measure how many people there are of diverse backgrounds in those senior positions, but the problem comes when companies don’t have the diverse leadership they’re looking for and hire outside talent that might not be the right culture/social/program/tech fit rather than look at how to do all the steps above better.
  10. Of course it’s always about the bottom line, so measure:
  • The number of technologies you’re offering successfully;
  • Your expansion into new markets and opportunities;
  • The amount of revenues generated;
  • The number of new opportunities available;
  • The depth and breadth of your partnerships and client base;
  • All other corporate and cultural performance indicators.

And if it doesn’t add up, how could more diverse and varied leadership and talent make it right?

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