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What's the best way to measure the effectiveness of your DEI program?

What's the best way to measure the effectiveness of your DEI program?

Focusing on authenticity, looking at recruiting progress and mapping trends from annual reports is a good start, members of Protocol's Braintrust say.

Good afternoon! As companies have made diversity, equity and inclusion strategies more central to their core missions, executives have also been looking at new ways to assess the effectiveness of different initiatives and ensure their workforces are being served well by them. With this week's Braintrust, we asked the experts to tell us how they're evaluating the programs their companies are putting in place. Questions or comments? Send us a note at

Sherika Ekpo

Chief diversity and inclusion officer at Anaplan

Design DE&I measurement with the same level of strategic thinking, planning and resourcing as you would for any other talent initiative. It’s a continuous activity that should happen throughout the employee lifecycle.

Before developing a plan, benchmark to identify specific challenges and focus your strategy to measure progress against KPIs that matter most. There is a tendency with DE&I to jump onto bandwagons and into tactics before looking at the data to confirm programs focus on the right organization-specific challenges.

Go beyond workforce data to evolve DE&I from a check-the-box activity to making substantial impact. While representation data is important, qualitative data from cultural assessments, listening sessions and employee engagement surveys help decision makers understand the experiences of employees and human impact of programs to determine effectiveness.

DE&I metrics can’t live in a vacuum. Align them with broader talent and business KPIs by integrating them into workforce models and processes. This ensures you measure effectiveness throughout the employee lifecycle and can tie impact back to the business to make the case for further investment.

At Anaplan, we use our attrition forecasting model to be proactive with succession planning and work with recruiters and managers to create a diverse candidate pool. People leaders can analyze applicant flow to understand which candidates and where candidates fall out of the process to pinpoint where to create a more inclusive hiring experience. Performance management, career progression and exit survey data are also key moments for measuring DE&I to inform equitable and effective retention strategies.

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Brian Reaves

Chief belonging, diversity and equity officer at UKG

Many well-known and successful companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have shown DEI-related transparency through the release of Diversity & Inclusion reports that highlight progress against their respective diversity, belonging and equity “benchmarks.” While these reports are a good start, in my experience, only using demographic data for measuring the success of belonging, diversity and equity programs limits the potential for impact. Such data often fails to capture the intersectional experience of most employees and its impact on belonging. I believe organizations can, and should, go further by evaluating and sharing KPIs that account for important subjective experiences — such as authenticity, acceptance and affiliation — which are crucial aspects of belonging, diversity and equity. By collecting and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative DEI-related data, companies will be well-positioned to create strategies and tactics that will have meaningful and sustained impact.

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Antoinette Hamilton

Head of Global Inclusion and Diversity at Lam Research

The first step to ensuring an effective DEI program is to formalize the strategy and focus on the greatest areas for improvement within the organization. The strategy should be aligned with the company’s mission and vision, where DEI is positioned as a business imperative and not strictly siloed within HR programming. Measurement is the next critical step to ensuring progress and keeping the organization accountable. Diversity numbers alone are a lagging indicator, reflecting what is already happening. At Lam Research, we focus on building and tracking goals that look toward the future and treat DEI as a change management process. For example, we’ve rolled DEI goals and accountability into the expectations of our people managers. This enables employees to live the values that Lam has defined and feel the impact. Building in the change management process allows us to focus on driving the right steps at the right time instead of boiling the ocean for programs and solutions.

Determining the appropriate goals to set can vary based on a company’s gaps and objectives. Areas to track include rates and percentages of promotions, access to training, retention and employee resource group member engagement scores versus the organizational average. As part of our efforts, we’ve created an Inclusion Index, an average of key DEI drivers from our annual employee survey, helping us benchmark progress and encouraging employees to get better together. Companies can measure a number of targets, but must have meaningful, clear and focused goals that move the DEI strategy forward.

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Katie Burke

Chief people officer at HubSpot

Talking about diversity and inclusion is one thing, but walking the walk is the true test. In order to view diversity and inclusion as a business priority, one must measure it as such.

At HubSpot, we view diversity, inclusion and belonging as mission-critical, not just a nice-to-have. Diversity retention is on our annual strategic plan, right next to customer and revenue growth goals, and we publish our Diversity Report with the goal of not only holding ourselves accountable to continuous improvement, but also to give our customers, partners, prospects and employees transparency into how we're working toward our mission of becoming a more diverse company.

For us, we saw the greatest outcomes by focusing on three things: 1) quantifying recruiting and retention so inclusion is as important as recruiting diverse talent; 2) matching the data measurement with meaningful action at both the company and team level; and 3) choosing to focus on fewer things better. When it comes to diversity work, it’s really hard to align on core areas of investment and say no to other items, but it’s critical to making meaningful progress.

Finally, no matter what you measure, you can’t stop listening and going beyond the data to understand what blockers are standing in the way of being a company where everyone can thrive and grow.

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Madhavi Bhasin

VP of Diversity & Inclusion at Okta

Okta releases an annual State of Inclusion report which holds us accountable for making progress each year. It communicates our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) commitment and our larger DIB strategy, including updates on our workforce, workplace and marketplace initiatives. With this report, we ensure that the initiatives we're putting in place are moving us in the right direction by tracking not only our diversity numbers, but that employees feel a sense of inclusion and belonging, with both qualitative and quantitative data.

As we work to increase representation through our strategy for building balanced teams and programs like the EquityAccelerator, it’s critical that we pay close attention to trends and make adjustments based on those. Increasing representation takes time, but mapping trends ensures that we can track progress and indicates if our initiatives are moving the needle. We also measure the success of our programs by tracking the pulse of our employees and employee sentiment through our annual employee engagement survey. Based on all of these measures, we are able to understand where progress is being made and where we need to recalibrate.

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See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated Feb. 17, 2022).
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