ATD Blog

Measure Diversity & Inclusion for Maximum Impact

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It is readily apparent that companies measure and track factors considered important to achieve strategic goals. However, diversity and inclusion (D&I)—while often touted as key to business success to attract, retain, and develop the best talent in the workplace and capture customers in the marketplace by being more responsive to changing needs—rarely is measured.

While there are a number of valid reasons for this gap in D&I measurement (such as not being sure of what to measure, concerns about legal exposure, sensitivity about making D&I a compliance-based “numbers” issue), measuring your effectiveness in this area is essential to determine if you are hitting intended objectives and to assess where calibrations should be made going forward.

Although a D&I measurement approach will be driven by an organization’s strategic objectives, here are a number of guidelines and ideas that can be helpful when establishing meaningful metrics:

Track D&I as part of employee engagement or organizational health surveys. Be sure to obtain demographic data so that you may compare and contrast the degree to which your organization is creating an inclusive environment.

Evaluate D&I from an employee lifecycle perspective. Examine how D&I is integrated within selection, recruitment, onboarding, training, performance management, and succession planning. Capture data from exit interviews as well.

Obtain systematic feedback from your employee resource groups (ERGs). Find out how connected ERG members feel to the enterprise as a whole, and solicit input from others to learn why they do not participate in ERGs.


Conduct a return on investment on a key D&I initiative. Determine the financial and business results of a major organizational program.

Assess year-over-year progress of adding more diverse senior leaders. While some organizations track the diversity of their pipeline of candidates, measuring the composition of executives and board members is more reflective of changing demographics in a global world.

Examine turnover rates from a D&I perspective. Are you seeing greater turnover in certain diverse populations, such as women, veterans, or LGBT employees? If so, this is a good indicator that the environment may need to take steps to become more inclusive.

Include multiple data points to obtain robust metrics. Examine diverse supplier rates from procurement, look at market data regarding effectiveness of customer and community outreach, assess employee participation rates in training from the learning management system, and include other functional areas.


Capture qualitative as well as quantitative data. Look for ways to include success stories of how D&I helped to win new business, develop innovative products that are more relevant to diverse customer needs, solve a key business issue, and other concrete examples.

D&I metrics must be multi-pronged. Obtain input from several internal and external stakeholders to determine what will be most meaningful. Ensure there is buy-in from leadership for the metrics and a commitment to taking appropriate action. Although measuring D&I effectiveness is not simple, it is essential to demonstrate and sustain strategic impact.

How do you measure D&I in your organization?

Check back for more posts this month on D&I, and plan to attend the ASTD webcast, Best Practices in Diversity and Inclusion: A Panel Discussion on July 10, 2013, to hear from a panel of D&I leaders of different industries. For more on diversity and inclusion (D&I), check out the full blog series here.

About the Author

Marjorie Derven, a director at HUDSON Research & Consulting, has worked with many leading organizations to design change management strategies and initiatives that integrate organizational effectiveness, DEI, and learning to create solutions that drive meaningful change.

She formerly served as chair for TD Editorial Board and as a Senior Fellow at The Conference Board in the human capital practice. With 20+ years of consulting experience with top-tier companies across multiple industries, her areas of expertise include emotional intelligence, diversity and inclusion, global leadership development, talent management, and organizational research. Marjorie has published dozens of articles and is a frequent presenter at global conferences. For more information, contact [email protected]

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