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Diversity is a business imperative in the corporate world today and organizations are slowly gaining cognizance of the fact that talent is distributed across varied groups of individuals, and that in order to get the right fitment for a position it is necessary to consider inclusion of all these groups. In many developed countries, the law and compliance requires organizations to conduct regular diversity audits. In India, the legal machinery is not as strong as other countries when it comes to implementing diversity norms in the corporate sector. However, increasing global influence will require India also to assess and implement measures that not only protect the employment rights of various diverse groups but also ensure that each applicant or candidate has an equal chance of being selected. Organizations also experience pressure from prospective global business partners who refrain from doing business with those who have a reputation of discriminatory behaviour.
In order to increase the participation of various groups in the organization, a detailed and well thought out diversity program is necessary. What is more important though is for the HR or Diversity Manager to have accurate assessment tools that will monitor the progress and the impact of diversity expanding activities.
This checklist contains important assessment related terms and their descriptions. It provides guidance to the HR manager about crucial measurement related components that must necessarily be a part of the Diversity initiative of the organization if it is to be successful.
In terms of the metrics it is important to have a combination of metrics which are baseline, operational (and therefore tactical) and hence can be tracked regularly to assess performance as well as define actions in the short and medium term, as well as those which are predictive (and essentially strategic) in nature, which would mean those metrics that help to analyse trends for the future and enable the organization to take decisions related to the same.
Importance of a clear Objective: The organization must articulate a clear and comprehensive objective to help people identify the purpose and value of the diversity initiative. Each organization can articulate its objective for the program keeping in mind the nature and circumstances of its business. A clear objective allows the organization to be able to define the subsequent metrics relevant for the initiative.
Once the objective of a particular initiative is clear, activities must be organized to accomplish the requirements stated by the objective. Then suitable metrics must be identified to track the progress of the organization and the appropriateness of the activities to accomplish the goals set by the Management and the diversity department.
Value of Metrics: Metrics are important to maintain a progress report which traces the success or failure of the activities. It makes the assessment realistic with actual data that helps the organization reconnoitre, relook at decisions and reassign resources if necessary.
1. Baseline Information
Workforce demographics should be collected at the start of the diversity program to give an accurate estimate of the progress accomplished. Without baseline data this is hard to assess progress and it is also difficult to define metrics. Such data is also useful to identify gaps, assets and weak links. Base line statistics are usually numerical historical data that lends itself to analysis of trends.
Some basic metrics that comprise of what is defined as baseline diversity information are as following (in terms of gender, ethnic groups, language spoken, state of origin, religion, age, marital status, education and physical/mental capability)–
Composition of employees in various departments/functions and regions/locations
Composition of employees at various levels (Board , Senior leadership levels, junior employees, new applicants and recruits and so on)
Composition of the supplier base
Composition of the customer base across various geographical locations
In western countries sexual orientation is a category of information. In India this is still a taboo topic. All this information must be collected by the organization on a voluntary basis with no pressure on the employees to provide it if they are reluctant.
The organization should also maintain records of the gender ratio, average employee age, employees participating in flexible work arrangements, Employee resource/ affinity groups, absenteeism rates, attrition rates, various benefits claims/choice and performance ratings of all employees.
2. Diversity Scorecard
In the assessment of Diversity, scorecards are more likely to be based on qualitative measures. Indicators are records of behavioural and attitude changes as these present the true picture of cultural change effected by organizational measures to increase diversity.
If one wanted to take the balanced scorecard route the approach would have to be modified to ensure that cultural changes are captures appropriately across all four areas. According to Robert Kaplan and David Norton, an effective scorecard has to be based on four factors - the development of the organization in terms of learning accomplished, improvements in the business process, the positive financial results from the changes made and the increase in market reach and customer base. If these specifications were to be translated into a diversity scorecard, they would have to be operationalized as follows (this is an indicative list and not an exhaustive, organizations may choose to have another approach more relevant to their strategy):
Has the organization defined a budget for diversity initiatives and is there a process to track the allocations made and the results from the same?
Has the organization's profit or market share registered an increase as a correlated result of the initiatives taken to enlarge the diverse population numbers?
Customer-Internal and External:
Are there more customers buying the organization's products or services due to a diverse set of employees?
Has the company reach extended in current and new markets due to diverse employee groups?
Has diversity had an impact on the market in terms of market share because of hiring local staff?
Internal Business Processes:
Has the organization made any changes to their business processes, to increase the number of employees from diverse (and specifically minority) groups?
Have these changes resulted in the increased recruitment of more minority employees being recruited and oriented?
Has the organization revised their performance management process to define metrics for managers who focus on creating a diverse team?
Learning and Growth:
Is the business knowledge available sufficient to plan the induction of minority groups into the organization? Would this result in required changes in organization culture?
Has the organization introduced training programs and other developmental activities to improve acceptance levels among the majority groups of minority employees? Has there been an attitude change in employees at all levels?
3. Quantitative Metrics
In order to be able to use the above approach to assess results, these need to be percolated down to actual parameters. Some of these parameters are quantifiable and are predictive in nature. Others are intangible. An effective diversity scorecard should therefore comprise of both kinds of specific parameters-
Specifically quantitative data should be recorded in areas such as-
4. Qualitative Data
It is very difficult to analyze the success of a diversity program with mere figures. Increase or decrease in the number of a certain group may be attributed to various reasons. To be able to gauge the reasons for the performance of the organization with respect to diversity activities, Qualitative data would include -
5. Other Valuable Metrics - Opinion Metrics
Beside the parameters mentioned above, the organization has to regularly collect data using different assessment tools. They include-
The audit is conducted to ensure that the organization is meticulously planning for increase in minority employees by creating the necessary processes and systems. The audit helps to assess the current status of the organization with respect to the diversity that exists at the time of assessment. Subsequent audits help to track the changes over time. Regular and consistent audits are required to give a realistic view of on going change. The audit covers all aspects of organizational functioning - application short listing, recruitment and selection, performance management, advertising and PR, flexibility of work arrangements, accommodations made in infrastructure for physically disabled and so on. What differentiates an audit from a survey is that an audit records the actual facts as they exist in terms of "Does it exist or not?" while a survey brings in the views or perceptions of the employees about the existing working conditions in the organization.
The diversity survey is a poll in which employees express their opinion about whether the organization has been successful in its attempts to create processes, systems and culture that supports diversity. It gives an account of what is going right or wrong. The management can use this information to plan their next steps of actions. It is a collective view and hence bound to be impartial. Surveys too should be conducted once every year to provide relevant, actionable information.
Please refer to the sample diversity survey template provided in the tools and templates section if you are interested in designing your own survey.
Organization Culture Survey
Culture is a direct and consequence of the actions of the management. Management efforts in enhancing diversity will impact the culture of the organization along with the influx of new employees with different perspectives. The only way that the management can gauge if they are on the right track is by soliciting the opinions of the employees in a survey about the culture of the workplace. Culture surveys are routinely done at most organizations but very few actually link the results effectively with their diversity initiatives. Hence correlated studies must be done between diversity audits and cultural parameters on a regular basis.
Employee Engagement Survey
Employee engagement scores will provide the management with holistic information about the various aspects of the organization that they need to improve on. It will also give them an insight into managerial behaviour at various levels and the impact it has on employee perception. Peer influences are another facet of employee engagement. HR and senior management must analyse the results of the survey in relation to diversity. Conflict, team spiritedness, morale, loyalty and disenchantment are possible opinion outcomes of such surveys. When considered in relation to diversity demographics, the management can determine the impact of their diversity initiative - for better or for worse.
Customer Satisfaction Rating
A survey among existing customers will provide an external view of the organization. Further analysis can be done in terms of the opinions from minority customers as compared to majority group customers to check for differences in their perceptions on the organization's services as well as their interactions with the organization. Based on this information the products can be tweaked to make the existing customers happier while bringing in new customers. The survey can be regional, national or international depending on the business or spread of the company.
According to Wheeler, M. L. (1998) most companies use the standard auditing parameters - Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action metrics, Employee attitude surveys, Cultural audits, Focus groups, Customer surveys, Management and employee evaluations, Accountability and incentive assessments and Training and education evaluations. (Wheeler, M. L. (1998), Measuring diversity: A strategy for organizational effectiveness. Empl.Rel. Today, 25: 61–68. doi: 10.1002/ert.3910250107)
The metrics suggested in this article are much more comprehensive yet not complicated. Most of this information is collected in the routine functioning of the organization. The resources required to obtain such information would not add to the company. What would make the difference would be the sincerity with which the information will be analysed and acted upon.
Organizations must keep in mind that any of the statistics they collect do not serve any purpose unless they are presented in relation to on-going performance. Data must be clear and simple and the managers must find it easy to understand and present. Many organizations collect data mechanically and file it away without it being used. This is a waste of organizational resources. Data must be compiled in a form that can be readily used based on requirements mentioned by the managers - user friendly.
Organizations also need to watch out for ignoring data collection requirements for cost saving purposes. If there is a diversity drive, it cannot be successful without close monitoring of the progress of recruitment and development.
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