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Data Driven DEI

Data-Driven DEI: a vehicle for driving change

Measurement is Key in DEI Strategies 

When life throws us health issues, car troubles or house problems, the intuitive solution is to seek out the requisite professional to assess, diagnose, and implement solutions based on actual data.

The same goes for business. Problems in marketing and sales would undoubtedly be met with frequent analysis, identification of the shortcomings and implementation of action plans to ensure the longstanding health of the company.

But what about challenges in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)? Are companywide DEI problems treated with the same urgency as problems in other areas of business?

Annual Engagement Surveys Aren’t Enough

We tend to measure what matters, and doing so puts power, data-driven power, behind whatever challenges we seek to overcome. Ill-measured DEI equals ill-managed DEI and can be assumed to be undervalued in businesses where it is overlooked.

Data-driven DEI doesn’t come from three questions on an engagement survey or one off unconscious bias training. It comes from a company’s investment in a DEI-specific assessment that will ultimately inform the framework of DEI strategy and action in the organization.

A data-driven DEI strategy asks what, why and how we should measure long before any action takes place.

What should you measure for data-driven DEI?

A man writes in a notebook in front of a laptop while learning about data-driven DEI

Deciding that DEI matters enough to be measured is a critical first step.  Seeking professionals, like those at Spectra Diversity, can set you on a path to identifying what to measure as you begin a more data-driven DEI journey.

The Spectra Assessment collects data on the individual as well as the organization to give you a more full picture of how your employees feel and where DEI strategies could focus on for the greatest impact.

For individuals:

  • Beliefs—self-awareness and personal beliefs around diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Interpersonal skills—putting empathy and inclusion into action

For the organization:

  • Management—how management sees itself and how employees see management
  • Culture—organizational norms and beliefs
  • Policies, practices and procedures (three Ps)—how DEI is put into practice

In order for leadership to understand what issues related to DEI exist in their company, a DEI-specific assessment is necessary. This entails more than a handful of questions about employee culture on the annual engagement survey.

The Spectra Assessment, for example, emphasizes specific DEI-related problem areas minus the guesswork and inferences that can arise from less sensitive assessment practices.

The action plans that result from a thorough and accurate measurement of what is really happening facilitate real and lasting change.

How should you measure DEI in Your Organization?

Referencing DEI data on a laptop while holding a cell phoneDeciding to measure DEI behaviors puts an organization one step closer to devising an action plan fueled by hard and fast data.  However, this data collection needs to be more than a status check or means to stay in compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.

Human resources departments have long tracked workforce demographics. Unfortunately, documentation of age, gender, and race tells an organization about diversity but does nothing to measure inclusion.

A truly holistic DEI assessment will collect single-dimensional demographics as part of an analysis of intersectionality and will incorporate data speaking to social factors such as political beliefs, income and marital and parental status to render a complete picture of DEI successes and shortcomings within an organization.

Understanding how different aspects of a person’s identity, including gender, race, age, caregiver status, sexual orientation, and disability, intersect can provide a much richer and nuanced perspective on DEI challenges and opportunities (Hamsa).”

Seven Tips for Measuring DEI

  1. Don’t wait to measure and benchmark where you’re at. Get started now.
  2. Select a measurement tool that has been statistically validated. A statistically validated survey is highly valuable in terms of reliable insights and accurate data.
  3. Make a commitment to DEI for the long term and select a tool you can use annually. DEI challenges are markedly consistent among organizations. Limited budget and lack of DEI benchmarks are common reasons DEI programs fail to achieve results.
  4. Measurement addressing both diversity and inclusion is key to a successful DEI strategy.
  5. Effective organizations track more, measure more and reward more. Advanced organizations understand the business case for inclusive company cultures.
  6. Align your diversity and inclusion goals with your organization’s strategic goals and values.
  7. Capture both qualitative data (comments and stories) and quantitative data (numbers and facts) with a complete assessment you can customize to meet your unique needs.

Why should your organization measure DEI?

Easier said than done, but the organization that decides diversity, equity and inclusion matters, endeavors to measure what matters. They ask the right kind of questions to fully understand the issues and form strategies to improve employees’ interpersonal skills, critical thinking and ability to problem solve within diverse teams. Research, like that out of The University of Toronto, supports that self-assessments increase an individual’s achievement and improve behavior. Measuring right away, the right away using a validated assessment like the Spectra Diversity Inclusion Assessment is key. It’s never too late to start.

numbers and an arrow up are highlighted as a man checks company profits in a report

Organizations truly committed to DEI are amongst the most forward-thinking and inclusive places to work. Their recognition of the relationship between DEI, employee satisfaction and engaged, innovative thinking affords them all of the benefits in productivity and overall morale that come along with it.

An employee who experiences an authentic investment in Data Driven DEI in the workplace is more likely to feel welcomed, valued and heard, meanwhile welcoming, valuing and respecting others. Productivity soars, innovation abounds and peak workforce engagement is achieved.

What can we do to support DEI initiatives at work?

Remember, DEI initiatives aren’t a one-time project, they must become an integral part of your organization’s culture and operations, embraced and supported at all levels. Here’s how you can support DEI efforts in your organization:

  • Measure What Matters: The utility of using data to measure DEI should feel no different than the countless other data-driven practices we engage in. Creating an effective DEI strategy requires the same kind of planning, reviewing, advocacy and accountability steps as any other important plan of action to establish and meet KPIs.
  • Education and Awareness: Stay informed about DEI issues in the news, understand the importance of inclusivity, and learn more about the value of different cultures and perspectives. This knowledge will help in advocating for change and addressing misconceptions.
  • Lead by Example: Be an advocate for inclusivity and demonstrate respectful behavior towards all colleagues. Treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their background.
  • Speak Up: If you witness or experience discrimination or bias, speak up and address it appropriately. This could be through reporting to HR, speaking to a manager, or engaging in a respectful conversation to address the issue.
  • Support ERGs and Initiatives: Participate in or support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and other initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion within the organization. These groups can provide a safe space for discussion and support.
  • Promote a Culture of Inclusivity: Encourage open conversations about diversity and inclusion. Share experiences, listen to others, and create a supportive environment for all voices to be heard.
  • Allies and Advocacy: Stand as an ally for marginalized groups. Support their voices, amplify their concerns, and advocate for their inclusion in decision-making processes.
  • Continuous Learning: Engage in ongoing learning and training sessions about DEI. This helps to understand unconscious biases, cultural differences, and strategies for creating an inclusive workplace.
  • Collaboration and Support: Support and collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. This can create a stronger sense of unity and understanding within the workplace.
  • Resilience and Persistence: Understand that the journey toward DEI might face resistance. Stay resilient and persistent in advocating for these principles, knowing that change takes time and effort.

For every sales slump and dip in leads there is an auditor or executive assigned to assess, analyze and assign a plan of action. The Spectra Diversity Inclusion Assessment ensures that the same data-driven approach can be applied to DEI. The individual and organization-centered assessment that Spectra provides strives to empower leadership with information on DEI performance gaps specific to the organization at hand.

The combined knowledge of what, how, and why to measure inclusive behaviors ultimately results in the clearest picture of how to drive culture change. Collective efforts from employees can gradually influence workplace cultures and encourage greater acceptance and understanding of diversity and inclusion.


Powering Inclusive Cultures: Why Measurement Matters, Christine Jones, 2023

Pulsely, Understanding DEI Data Driven Strategy and Key Metrics, 2023.

Medium, 4 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building a Data Driven DEI Practice,  Hamsa, September 2023.

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