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Measuring ROI of Diversity Programs

by Jody Ordioni

To quantify the value of any program or training that has been implemented in the work sphere is the topmost challenge that plagues the notion of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). When trying to bring in leadership buy-in for any diversity program, it is important to gauge the value that your programs promise for the organization. But the question is. How does one estimate the measure of D&I goal attainment? What strategies can you employ to assess D&I practices?

Assessing the D&I Practices

To assess the set of D&I practices you wish to bring forth, the primary step is to establish where the organization stands, from the very start. Limiting the areas on which the organization wishes to focus allows better introduction and implementation of D&I practices. Get an estimate of the diversity level within an organization by conducting a few surveys that pose questions regarding the culture and inclusion in the organization.

Parameters to Utilize in a Survey

A few parameters that can be utilized in the survey include- velocity of movement (how long it takes to hire, promote and move upwards within the organization), plans regarding the success of diverse employees or the percentage that have sponsors and mentors.

After a thorough inspection of the D&I culture has been carried out, understanding the data present helps to implement schemes that improve the organization. Say the surveys reveal that a majority of women within the organization are treated unfairly. The goal of the program then becomes to weed out this problem and improve in this particular area. It is also helpful to look at material already present on similar problems to reduce the disparity.

D&I is a field that is gaining momentum in the current times and reviewing already existing policies can help companies to directly put the solutions into practice. Many organizations are a spring-well of information on D&I practices, such as Society for Human Resource Management, Diversity Inc, Harvard Business Review, and others.

Measuring and Quantifying the Changes

After you have assessed the areas that require work, there must be an agreement within the organization that decides the parameters to measure and quantify the changes. How can the effectiveness of D&I practices be measured by the organization? Will it be wise to use retention and attrition rates to measure D&I a success?

Perhaps the most sensible action would be to the position of employees at the beginning. This would establish an initial point before any corrective method is implemented, so as to progress throughout the process can be measured.

Once the D&I practices have been established, a regular assessment of the progress is important. The ultimate goal and its attainment remain at the center of the process but it is also imperative to have ways to measure improvement at every level. These safety checks are a realization for the company as to whether the program is actually helpful or not. A real-time feedback allows room for adjustments and pivots to be made in the plan. A reasonable duration of time should also be decided upon before an intervention is staged.

To illustrate the point made, a shift in the organization’s culture can take years before a noticeable change surface. How does then one mark the success of the program? Pinning abstract concepts and quantifying them will help to assess the incremental changes made along the way.

Working out a method to quantify D&I training is beneficial if the organization is looking to buy leadership buy-in for the same initiatives. The end goal of the company leaders is to understand the ROI of D&I, which can be tough to conceptualize. Cold, hard data is the proof that brings in leadership buy-in from those who are skeptical about the functionality of D&I programs. A functioning D&I system not only brings in buy-in but also increases the probability of achieving diversity goals.

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