In our previous essay, I&D: It's time to show, not just tell, we examined the importance of establishing an organizational design and governance structure to foster an enterprise-wide commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equity (ID&E). Now we discuss how to measure progress against those commitments.
The ID&E are closely related; as a result, they’re often considered as a group. However, their meanings differ—as do the actions needed to support them. Diversity does not mean inclusion or equity—even if, in a socially responsible organization, one cannot exist without the others.
That’s why, in order to develop effective ways to promote and sustain ID&E, it’s important for companies to understand the differences among these three terms. Equally essential: devising measures that reflect these differences, so companies can track progress effectively, learn from experience, and improve.
The efforts to get this right promise significant returns. Accenture’s recent Better to Belong research reveals that when companies leave people better off, business performance improves too.
Our research shows that companies that measure and maximize their ID&E strategy benefit from critical workforce satisfaction gains:
Customers care too. Accenture research shows that 69% of ‘promoters,’ i.e., customers who are most likely to recommend a company's products or services, view diverse representation within the companies they support as important. Interestingly, disability inclusion, by itself, ranked high for 79% of promoters. For Platform and Media companies, ID&E values must also be reflected in partner networks and in products and services—in both creative content and in the experience created for users.
Understand what you’re measuring and why, then set a course
A solid first move? Articulating ID&E goals that are SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based—and also reflect the distinct elements that make up ID&E:
As Accenture research has shown, organizations that share a common understanding of (and commitment to) ID&E goals are rewarded with a more engaged and productive workforce than others.
Next comes the work of evaluating management practices for systemic bias within the organization. Leaders must do the same for the ways in which the company develops products and services, in terms of both its user-facing content and user experience. They must ask questions such as:
- How diverse is the current workforce (i.e., what is our diversity baseline)?
- How are inclusive and equitable practices currently being incorporated into the recruiting and talent management process throughout our company?
- Do our external partners (designers, producers, writers, marketers, etc.) reflect the company’s ID&E values?
- Do our products and services (content, user experience, etc.) reflect our ID&E values?
Armed with the answers, they can turn to the nuts and bolts, which will provide the foundation to: Identify ID&E metrics; Define how to measure progress; Determine a reporting strategy; and Create feedback loops.
Step 1 - Identify ID&E metrics: Measure what matters
As covered in the previous essay, I&D: It's time to show, not just tell, Platform and Media companies must evaluate the effectiveness of ID&E practices across the multiple enterprise dimensions; within its corporate workforce, amongst its creative teams and partner network (designers, producers, writers, marketers, etc.), and in its content, online products and services.
When it comes to identifying metrics, an organization needs a clear understanding of its current state. For example, if an assessment shows a company’s talent retention is strong but workforce diversity is lacking, a focus could be placed on measuring the progress in attracting a diverse talent pool. With every goal, it is crucial that executive ownership is clearly defined, and achievement is tied to a clearly defined reward structure. A successful enterprise-wide ID&E strategy requires buy-in from the CEO, full c-suite and the Board, and specific, measurable KPIs that address each of the enterprise dimensions.
The 2022 Audience Representation Index is one ID&E measurement tool and framework available to the Platform and Media industry developed by Accenture in partnership with the World Economic Forum. This index provides a framework for measuring audience perception of in-content diversity and corporate inclusion initiatives, along with associated industry and sector level benchmarks.
Metrics should reflect a Platform and Media organization’s most critical inclusion, diversity, and equity imperatives across each form of diversity: corporate, creative and in-content.
Step 2 - Define how to measure: Account for process and cadence
Companies that provide a truly inclusive workplace understand that enduring commitment and effort are required. Inclusive behavior is a daily activity, not a quarterly or annual initiative. Diverse voices need to be heard through frequent and open feedback. This cadence allows learnings to be translated into real-time actions; and continual adjustments must be made to help ensure an inclusive culture is maintained. Microsoft does this, continually gauging sentiments about inclusion and workplace culture through daily pulse surveys of a random sample of employees. The company also conducts location-specific surveys to understand the experiences of employees in various parts of the world. This listening strategy allows Microsoft to tailor experiences and initiatives to meet its employees’ real needs and measure inclusive outcomes.
Step 3 - Determine reporting strategy: Ensure transparency and accountability
Some Platform and Media c-suite executives have begun taking responsibility for defining KPIs, collecting data and measuring ID&E progress. But executives also need to be accountable and transparent about the progress that is, or is not, being made. Take, for example, goals for improving workforce diversity: once the definition of diversity for the firm has been determined – race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, age, etc.– measurable targets must be established. These should be public, CEO-driven, leader managed, and continually monitored. What's more, the measurement of progress should be as transparent as possible while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of the workforce. One example is Twitter: The company has set as a goal a workforce comprised of 50% women and 25% underrepresented minorities by 2025. To accomplish this, it launched an internal dashboard for transparency and accountability, enabling all employees to see live aggregated demographic data across the entire organization.
Step 4 - Create feedback loops: Implement processes that compel improvement
A culture of feedback, listening, action, and communication fosters inclusion. To bring about real change, companies need to implement procedures informed by collected data, and continually assess their impact. Firms that understand the importance of taking action to help ensure an equitable work environment have instituted policies that open doors for a diverse pool of talented individuals who are equitably treated and represented across all roles and in all decision-making ladders throughout the organization. One example is Bloomberg, which requires that its employees only participate in external panels and events that include a diverse line-up of speakers.
Christie advocates a best practice informed by our own company’s feedback loops. As she put it: “At Accenture, we know that shaping strategy that embeds equity in the very structure of our organization is critical to driving real progress. Another area for meaningful and sustained ID&E progress requires a hard look at leadership. A good practice to consider is the 'Rule of three' which requires at least three members of a non-dominant group (typically women and people of color) be part of every leadership or organizational governing body. One person from an underrepresented group can far too easily be tokenized or drowned out, but three or more gives strength and room for individuality of opinion without having to speak for an entire identity”.
Four key steps to measure progress and improve ID&E:
- Measure what matters: Identify the strategic KPI’s that will help drive the organization towards its ID&E goals.
- Define measurement process and cadence: Pulse check how employees feel about their team dynamic and organizational culture with a focus on inclusion. Then take action to assess impact and address issues intentionally and with speed.
- Share results for transparency and accountability: Publicize progress across each dimension of ID&E, both in talent and processes. Transparency motivates teams and attracts a more diverse pool of talent.
- Create feedback loops that promote better actions: Establish policies that measurably drives equity across the organization. Ensuring there are more perspectives at the table makes for more innovative teams and better products.