Diversity ROI Measurement Skills in Small Doses: Moving beyond Excuses

19 May

CEOs Want to Know the Impact of Diversity ROI on Initiatives but Aren’t Getting It!

A recent study of CEOs analyzing what CEOs want from their Diversity organizations concluded that CEOs want to see the impact and ROI of their Diversity investments but instead receive only activity and satisfaction data. So, why aren’t Diversity & Inclusion Executives, Managers, Practitioners, etc. measuring their impact and sharing with their CEOs? After all, this is not exactly a revelation. Some of the leading reasons are lack of resources, lack of support from the CEO, lack of funding, lack of skills, etc. My take: these are all just excuses since there are a huge number of resources, books, workshops, etc., available. This strongly suggests that many Diversity Practitioners need a serious skill update or should excuse themselves out of the job. If they remain without these skills, at some point, they may face elimination and/or extinction.

This is the 21st Century, with its emphasis on cutting edge as well as “State of the Practice” technological and analytical advances, yet Diversity Practitioners are using old-fashion measurement skills where the wheels immediately come off of their measurement system wagons. We haven’t been in the “Old West” of Diversity measurement for quite a few decades. State of the Art Diversity ROI processes have been here for quite some time.


Accountability Trends

Many enlightened business managers often take a professional business approach to Diversity, with ROI being part of the strategy. Top executives who watched their diversity budgets continue to grow without appropriate accountability measures have become frustrated with this approach. In an attempt to respond to the situation, they have turned to Diversity Return on Investment (DROI®). Top executives are now demanding DROI® calculations from Diversity departments where they were not required previously.
So, what factors prevent us from mastering Diversity ROI measurement? Here are a few excuses I hear that Diversity Practitioners say are consistently challenging and “Small Doses” to begin to address them:

Issue-1: Lack of Skills and Orientation
Many Diversity staff members neither understand ROI nor do they have the basic skills necessary to apply the process within their scope of responsibilities. Diversity ROI Measurement and evaluation is not usually part of the preparation for the Diversity job or taught as part of a university education focused on diversity. Also, the typical Diversity training program or intervention does not focus on results, but more on diversity awareness concepts, activities, or other issues. Staff members attempt to measure results by measuring learning only instead of the full range of Diversity performance intervention outcomes (at all 7 levels) that drive business. Consequently, this is a tremendous barrier to implementation that must be changed such that the overall orientation, attitude, and skills of the Diversity staff member are focused on business results, impact, and/or outcomes.

Small Dose-1: Build DROI® Skills and Measurement Orientation
Don’t wait until you are asked about the DROI® of your Diversity intervention to gain competency and business acumen in this area, start learning about DROI® today! Attend a Diversity ROI Webinar, Workshop, Read books on Diversity ROI, Use DROI® Tools, etc.

Issue-2: Faulty Needs Assessment
Many existing Diversity interventions are not based on an adequate needs assessment. Some diversity interventions have been implemented for the wrong reasons based on requests to chase a popular fad or trend in the industry. Even worse, they schedule training for everyone in the organization costing thousands or millions of dollars with NO measurable DROI®. If the intervention is not needed, the benefits from the program will be minimal or wasted. A DROI® calculation for an unnecessary program will likely yield a negative value. This barrier can be eliminated by training and certifying Diversity Executives and Practitioner in programs such as the Hubbard Diversity ROI technologies, training measurement workshops, etc.

Small Dose-2: Learn the Detailed Steps to Conduct a Comprehensive Needs Assessment
Needs analysis is the cornerstone of any Diversity performance analysis effort. It provides you with appropriate justification for either developing or not developing your Diversity intervention. You must conduct a needs analysis, no matter how abbreviated, before any Diversity intervention takes place.
The objectives of a needs analysis are to:
• Describe the exact nature of a performance discrepancy
• Determine the cause(s) of the discrepancy
• Recommend the appropriate solution(s)
• Describe the target population

Issue-3: FEAR
Some Diversity departments do not pursue DROI® measurement implementation due to fear of failure or fear of the unknown. Fear of failure appears in many ways. Designers, developers, facilitators, and program owners may be concerned about the consequences of a negative DROI®. They fear that the DROI® measurement process will be a performance evaluation tool instead of a process improvement tool. Also, the DROI® process will stir up the traditional fear of change. This fear is often based on unrealistic assumptions and a lack of knowledge of the process.

Small Dose-3: Overcome FEAR by Taking Action
The best way to overcome FEAR is by (a) taking action, (b) generating results, (c) evaluating the outcome, and (d) implementing improvements. FEAR is often based on a lack of knowledge so the antidote is to “learn” and “master” the DROI® skills and processes.

Issue-4: Discipline and Planning
A successful DROI® evaluation implementation requires much planning and a disciplined approach to keep the process on track. Implementation schedules, evaluation targets, DROI® analysis plans, measurement and evaluation policies, and follow-up schedules are required. The Diversity Change Management team may not have enough discipline and determination to stay on course. This becomes a barrier, particularly if there are no immediate pressures to measure the return. If the current senior management group is not requiring a DROI® evaluation, the Diversity Change Management team may not allocate time for planning and coordination. Also, other pressures and priorities often eat into the time necessary for an effective DROI® evaluation implementation. Only carefully planned implementation efforts succeed.

Small Dose-4: Build DROI® Discipline and Planning Focus
There is really no substitute for implementing a thorough approach to a DROI® evaluation process. It must be implemented using effective project planning and management skills as well as following the DROI® methodology according to each step in its design.

Issue-5: False Assumptions
Many Diversity staff members have false assumptions about the DROI® process that keep them from attempting DROI®. Typical assumptions include: (a) The impact of intervention cannot be accurately calculated, (b) Operating managers do not want to see the results of Diversity expressed in monetary values. They won’t believe it, (c) If the CEO does not ask for the DROI®, he or she is not expecting it, (d) CDO denial – “I have a professional, competent staff. Therefore, I do not have to justify the effectiveness of our programs”, (e) Learning or this type of intervention is a complex but necessary activity. Therefore, it should not be subjected to an accountability process, etc. These false assumptions form perceptible barriers that impede the progress of a DROI® evaluation implementation.

Small Dose-5: Eliminate Any False Assumptions
Let’s face it, the DROI® evaluation process and its associated analytics are here to stay. It’s only realistic that Diversity practitioners eliminate any false assumptions, wishful thinking and/or outdated measurement paradigms. In the future, there is likely to be even more demands for DROI® analysis feedback, demonstrated credibility and intervention performance value that tie to the organization’s bottom line.

Using these processes has the added benefit of improving the effectiveness of all Diversity interventions we conduct. Only those Diversity Practitioners who can operate as full strategic business partners will have what’s needed to survive for the long term. Do You Have What It Takes To “Survive”, “Thrive”, and “Drive” Real Business Performance using Diversity & Inclusion?


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