Measuring Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Matters
Insights from MTC’s Technology Inclusivity Initiative (TI2)
The Maryland Tech Council (MTC) strongly believes that companies that implement strategies, practices and policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) within their organizations enjoy an economic advantage over the competition, and the benefits of doing so can extend far beyond the company itself, positively impacting the community. But as Peter Drucker said, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure,” and most companies aren’t measuring the impact of their DEI efforts.
Through our Technology Inclusivity Initiative (TI2), MTC has had the great fortune to be connected to Angel St. Jean, CEO of The Black Brain Trust. Now an MTC member and an active volunteer with our TI2 Steering Committee, Angel has brought incredibly valuable DEI thought-leadership to our organization, especially in bringing awareness of the importance and benefits of measuring DEI efforts and her innovative business intelligence technology tool to help companies do so.
“Companies are not reaping the rewards of the $50 billion they spend yearly on DEI because they don’t track the performance of their efforts,” notes Angel. “And they’re not tracking performance because they don’t know what to measure.” Businesses track just about everything that matters to their top and bottom lines, and they use data to drive performance in those areas. “DEI is typically seen as an amorphous, nebulous concept or a feel-good activity to make marginalized groups feel better or companies look good,” says Angel. “We invite companies to see DEI differently, to recognize that, when defined and measured, DEI efforts and investments can positively impact their top and bottom lines as well as the community.”
As MTC talked with DEI thought leaders and innovators over the past year, we’ve come to a few important realizations, one of which is that the key to the aforementioned competitive advantage is bigger than hiring diverse individuals. Yet, many companies consider themselves to be strong on their DEI efforts and poised for success simply because their workforce looks diverse. As Angel shared with us, there is so much more that must be considered when engaging in DEI. And she suggests that understanding three key points can help companies benefit from their DEI efforts:
1) DEI is something that can be defined, tracked, and measurably improved.
To do this, leaders need to recognize the difference between each component of DEI. Companies tend to focus on the “D” and the “I” but leave out the “E”. St. Jean notes, “We are doing a good job of counting the diversity of our workforce and supply network and measuring how many of our employees feel like they belong. Equity (the “E”) is achieved when equitable processes lead to equitable results. In that way, leaders can evaluate their ability to be equitable the same way they can evaluate whether their sales strategies are leading them to meet their sales targets. Ask yourself, are your actions, policies, and practices likely to produce measurable differences in the experiences and results of different groups in your company?”
2) Your DEI footprint is much bigger than who you hire and who your suppliers are.
To have an impact on DEI, leaders must look at it comprehensively. An implicit bias training or Employee Resource Group is not going to address every issue. St. Jean’s technology platform EquiScore BI™ measures DEI across three levels of analysis:
- Interpersonal: At this level, it evaluates the experience of workers and (for consumer-facing businesses) the experience of customers. Are they treated with respect? Do they have to be someone other than who they are to get that respect? Do their voices matter as you make decisions that impact them, your company, and the communities they come from?
- Institutional: At this level, it analyzes internal facing policies and practices. This includes the decisions made on who and how you hire, who and how you pay, opportunities for advancement and the results of all those decisions for the people in your company.
- Structural: At this level, it measures the impact the company has on equity in the world through its associated industry. For example, if you are a bank, what are your lending practices? And how are those practices contributing to who has access to wealth building in the community? For technology companies, do you have inclusive design processes? How does your software impact who has access to opportunity in the companies using your platform? “Collectively these decisions impact your workers, suppliers, customers and the communities they live in,” says St. Jean. “We need to understand the myriad of ways we are contributing to equity or inequity in our society.”
3) DEI efforts take place across all business operations.
Every person within a company that manages staff, leads a department, or makes operational or programmatic decisions affect DEI in the company. These individuals need to understand the role they play in achieving a company’s DEI goals and be engaged in the process of developing and implementing strategies to improve. St. Jean’s tool uses the RACI Model, a project management framework, as a way of identifying and assigning roles and responsibilities in a company’s DEI efforts and facilitating the data collection process. Her platform helps identify the leaders that need to be involved and puts the DEI leader (or consultant) in a position to lead and guide the effort which should take place across operations instead of by one person.
If we agree that we should measure what matters, and we say DEI matters, how are we measuring it? What work are we doing to drive performance so that we may reap the rewards? Often, individuals are assigned to a DEI role and are being charged with leading the company’s DEI efforts, but they may not have the experience nor the appropriate tools to do so. Innately, people want to be successful, but if we aren’t equipping them with the tools and resources and aren’t measuring what works and doesn’t work along the way, it makes the journey to success difficult. “Currently, 80% of companies have a DEI initiative but only 30% have a data-driven plan,” St. Jean notes. “It’s important to make sure people we put into these roles have what they need to be successful.”
As our world evolves, there will be an increased emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusivity within our companies, especially as we understand and accept the alignment between our economic and moral imperatives. Businesses that are trailblazers on this front understand the value to their company and recognize the increased focus being placed on the collective impact businesses make on diversity, equity and inclusivity in our world. By proactively measuring their DEI efforts and investments on a regular basis, they are getting ahead of the trend and ensuring continued improvement, growth and success for their company and, equally important, the people and communities in the world around them.
About Angel St. Jean and The Black Brain Trust: LinkedIn, www.equiscorebi.com