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Measuring Diversity: A Guide to Getting Started

5 Oct, 2021

by Laura Close
Measuring Diversity: A Guide to Getting Started

Here at Included, we talk a lot about applying a DEI lens to your people data (it’s kind of our thing), but first is the crucial step of gathering that data in the first place. Not just run-of-the-mill HR data; we’re talking about the nitty-gritty details – the backgrounds and identities of people your enterprise sources, interviews, hires, and promotes.

instituting people data collection across all stages of the employment cycle is crucial to strengthening diversity in your org – how else to know where to focus your efforts? Turnover data is not enough. What you need to see is employee and candidate data, allowing you to compare outcomes across demographics.
Let’s talk about what you can do to get the ball rolling.


Start With What You Know

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s likely that your HR department already has basic demographic data on current and past employees, and that’s a great place to begin. Start with what you have, and then see what else you can layer on. Add in these factors:

  • Salary and compensation
  • Promotions
  • Headcount
  • Turnover

This is enough data to start telling the story of diversity at the organization.


Move at the Speed of Trust

As Adrienne Maree Brown advises, in DEI one must “move at the speed of trust.” Develop safe avenues of communication and connection before asking workers to disclose sensitive information. The goal here is not just to collect data, but to build an environment where that data is a meaningful component of a larger movement toward equity. Employees and candidates will want to know that this info will be used to support programs and initiatives that materially improve their working conditions.

Measuring diversity must be considered as a part of a larger commitment to increased equity. Demonstrate an institutional commitment to inclusion.

  • Create Employee Resource Groups(ERGs) where people can openly discuss their experiences and work towards needed change.
  • Survey your workforce to get a sense of current attitudes and potential problem areas.
  • Invest in DEI programming and events.
  • Offer incentives for diverse employee referrals.


Measure Early and Often

Ideally, measuring diversity starts well before onboarding. Demographic info should be requested and recorded at every stage of the hiring funnel. This not only enables tracking how different groups fare at each stage of talent acquisition, but will also communicate to prospective hires that this is an org that takes DEI seriously.

  • From the earliest contact with potential employees, request self disclosure of demographic info.
  • Communicate the benefits of self-identification and how it links to the company’s overall commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Share examples of how the information can contribute to resources and benefits (ERGs, etc).
  • Emphasize data confidentiality and be clear about who will have access and how data will be used.


Next steps


Measuring Inclusion

If measuring diversity is akin to seeing who gets a seat at the table, measuring inclusion asks, “who at the table gets time to speak without interruption?” Once you have a real handle on diversity data, you’ll need to ask a more sensitive set of questions about access, opportunities and support to measure inclusion. Get input from ERGs to find out what areas of inquiry will have the largest impact.


Give it Time

Companies that succeed do so because they use every “failure” as an opportunity to learn and improve. Preliminary findings are likely to fall short of the mark. The true metric is measured in your progress over time.

DEI begins with acknowledging the areas where there is a need for progress and committing to making that progress. While the first wave of data collected can give an idea of the current state of diversity at your org, it can’t tell you where you’re going. Time, commitment, and concerted effort will. Measuring diversity is a vital first step toward building and supporting a more equitable future, one org at a time.

Laura Close

Laura Close is co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at She brings twenty years of experience in the DEI space, originating as a political campaigns & policy expert in racial, gender, and economic justice in the late 90s. Laura has spent her career locking in new structural opportunities and institutional access for historically excluded or underrepresented communities. Previously she built an award-winning global executive coaching firm with a client base spanning FAANG and unicorn startups. Her insights have been featured in MarketWatch, the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), and she was named an HR tech influencer to follow in 2022.

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