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Enough Talk. It’s Time for Data.

Social media timelines were flooded with companies and executives pledging their commitment to workplace equality. Now it’s time to bring receipts.

Equality Metrics
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On Tuesday our timelines filled with black squares and posts from companies and corporate executives, declaring their commitment to do better; to build more equal workplaces. While it sometimes felt like marketing when they featured their logo in the middle of their squares, I don’t doubt the positive intentions behind any of these posts.

After all, very few people consciously want bias and injustice to persist. People want to do better, but the behaviors and institutional biases are still there. 

In business, we embrace the fact that you get what you measure: from sales calls to MQL and revenue targets. For companies who are committed but don’t know what to do next, there are four key metrics you should begin implementing immediately to help fulfill your promise.

Retention Metrics

Many companies are already tracking applicant and employee demographics, including their self identified gender and race. Progressive companies like Google, LinkedIn and Salesforce publish annual diversity reports and make the composition of their workforce transparent. 

While current overall employee diversity is a data point, it doesn’t tell the full picture. There is a gender retention gap in the tech industry. We also know discrimination impacts retention, which costs companies not just phenomenal talent, but the additional hiring and training costs employee churn brings. 

If you don’t know how your retention rate breaks down, you’re leaving blind spots and risking the efficacy of any diversity & inclusion initiative you implement.

This metric should also be applied to company-initiated separations. Performance, fit, and success is strongly determined by the company, the inclusive culture you foster, and how well you support your team. What I’m saying is, involuntary departures say just as much about you as the voluntary ones do.

Promotion Metrics

The next thing to look at is who is being promoted within your company. I’ve already written about the fact that meritocracy is a myth, and we know that the C-suite is still predominantly occupied by white men.

There are inequalities in talent development, from how high potential talent is identified, to how leadership is defined and recognized, to a lack of sponsorship and mentorship for minority team members.

Promotions should at minimum statistically reflect the composition of your workforce. For example, if your company is 45% female and the leadership team is only 15% female, you have an obvious gap. If you also track that 75% of your promotions are white male team members you can easily identify that you have a larger problem. 

You control your talent pipeline of internal candidates. In addition to equitable learning and development opportunities, focus on closing the mentorship gap. Support your diverse team members in finding mentors, coaches, and enablement from people who have expertise and experience with the unique obstacles they face in their career growth. 

Executive Accountability

It’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Alongside revenue growth and retention targets, add diversity growth metrics to leadership metrics – and tie it to bonuses. 

Most people focus on the areas where they know their performance will be measured, and especially where it will impact their bank account. Financial incentives may provide the ongoing awareness your leadership team needs to maintain their priority once the proverbial dust settles so real change can be made.

Pay Transparency

Persistent economic inequality is a complex issue, but at its core, we know that it is true for race and for gender (which is compounded by race). 

Not only is resolving inequities in pay important for practical reasons, like doing the right thing, but it may also have further implications. One dark spot in research is how inequality in pay may translate into inequities in career growth opportunities. When someone is receiving top dollar, it could be inferred that a certain level of cognitive dissonance occurs, where their perceived value is increased due to their actual salary.

Include salaries in job postings and demystify salaries internally – if you are doing the right thing and paying fairly there is nothing to hide.

Using the Data

Once you have the data, you are going to be able to monitor the success (or missteps) to growing the equality you and your company have committed to creating. These metrics should inform your diversity and inclusion programs in hiring, talent development, and leadership development initiatives, and in your overall employee experience.

Diverse workplaces, and especially diversity in leadership, build stronger companies. I hope these metrics help you and your company cultivate diversity and promote inclusion so everyone can thrive.

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