Although interest in measuring the effects of diversity has been growing, the topic still challenges even the most sophisticated and progressive diversity departments. Diversity Professionals and Practitioners know they must begin to show how diversity is linked to the bottom-line or they will have difficulty maintaining funding, gaining support, and assessing progress. But where do they start? Well, I will weigh in on this topic with a few thoughts in a “two-part” analysis of this dilemma. In this segment (Part One), I will give an overview of a 5 step process to consider and highlight some key background issues. Part Two will detail each step of the 5-step process including possible diversity metrics, formulas, and suggestions. Although measuring Diversity Return on Investment (DROI®) impact is not an exact science, there are a number of valid techniques, tools and reliable methods for translating business performance gains into tangible financial results that C-Suite executives will support and embrace. Let’s get started by addressing the fundamental question…
Can diversity be measured?
Before we look at what to measure, I’d like to address the concern some practitioners have about the validity of measuring diversity results. Some practitioners seem to believe that quantifiable and quality-based measures cannot be applied to the diversity implementation process or a diverse work culture. Others believe that diversity is not a business-focused activity, simply another form of affirmative action regulatory compliance. However workforce and market place demographics make diversity a business and customer issue, as well as a global competitive issue!
Regardless of the events that led to this conclusion or whether this subjective position is valid or not, the fact that the position exists and that some diversity professionals and other business people support it creates major problems. In particular, it sets managing and leveraging diversity apart from the rest of the organization. While peers in other organizational areas are focusing on metrics that reflect their contribution such as sales, reduced costs, profits, income and expenses, those implementing the diversity process often limit their discussion of diversity’s contribution to increased awareness, improved feelings, and increased satisfaction among work groups. Only a select few really show demonstrated, evidenced-based results of Diversity’s impact on organizational performance.
As a result, diversity is not taken seriously. Fewer managers support it in actual practice, such as, sending their workforce to be trained, using Diversity in potential alternatives to solve business unit and customer problems, etc. Even fewer managers structure their workforce to leverage its richness through teaming, implementing strategic partnerships to penetrate key ethnic customer markets, and so on. We know from current organizational practice that diversity initiatives often experience less management support than other business initiatives.
I’m not suggesting that measurement is the sole solution to diversity’s acceptance into the corporate landscape. But measurement of results is a useful tool that allows the diversity practitioner to talk the language of other managers and top management. Remember Diversity activities are not conducted in a vacuum. They are part of an organizational system of processes, activities, and events aimed at delivering “value”, “impact” or both.
Building a measurement system
The creation of an effective Diversity measurement system and “best” practices cannot be a mechanical modeling exercise. It must be preceded by an inspection and utilization of basic business principles. It must focus on organizational and departmental strategic thinking as well as an assessment of the desired quality of work-life. Developing the actual measures is easy compared to the amount of time that should be spent thinking about what is important to the organization’s strategic business objectives and the expectations of the diversity measurement process.
Key steps to building an effective measurement system
Creating an effective Diversity measurement system and process that embodies these concepts involves at least five critical steps:
- Review the Strategic Business Plan for Needs
- Formulate Research Questions
- Design the Study Methodology
- Collect and Analyze Data
- Implement Solutions and Communicate Results
Each step in the process logically builds on the previous step which generates an evidenced-based framework that creates a “Best Practice” method for proving Diversity’s link to performance. In the next segment (Part Two), we will explore each step in detail and provide suggestions for their effective use.
Short Bio on the Author
Dr. Edward E. Hubbard is President and CEO of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc., (http://hubbardnhubbardinc.com), Petaluma, CA, an international organization and human performance-consulting corporation that specializes in techniques for applied business performance improvement, workforce diversity measurement, instructional design and organizational development.
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) inducted Dr. Ed Hubbard into the prestigious “ASTD New Guard for 2003”. The July/August 2007 Issue of Profiles in Diversity Journal featured Dr. Hubbard as the “Diversity Pioneer” in Diversity Measurement. In April, 2012 Dr. Hubbard was an honoree at the Inaugural International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Professionals Legends of Diversity Ceremony in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico where he received the Legends of Diversity Award for establishing the “Diversity ROI Analytics” and “Diversity Measurement Fields/Disciplines”. He also received the “Excellence in Global Leadership Award” from the World HRD Congress for 2015. Dr. Hubbard serves on the Harvard Business Review, Diversity Executive Magazine and Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Management (SDIM) magazine Editorial Advisory Boards.
Dr. Hubbard is an expert in Organizational Behavior, Organizational Analysis, Applied Performance Improvement and Measurement Strategies, Strategic Planning, Diversity Measurement, and Organizational Change Methodologies. He holds a Practitioner Certification and Master Practitioner Certification in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), a Neuro-science discipline. Dr. Hubbard earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Ohio State University and earned a Ph.D. with Honors in Business Administration.