An image of birds of various colors, representing diversity and inclusion.

This article takes you through a 5-step procedure to measure the effectiveness of your diversity and inclusion communications. For additional reading on this topic, see our interview with Mary S. Miller, “Are Your Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Communications Working?” Visit this page for a list of our articles on how to measure internal communications.

The problem with most diversity and inclusion (D&I) measurement is that it is too often seen through the lens of HR and Recruitment, when in fact it should be viewed as a marketing campaign. As Edward Hubbard suggested back in 2012:

When communicating to key audiences about the implementation of the organization’s diversity vision and strategy, it should be viewed as an internal marketing campaign. The goals of such a campaign are identical to those of traditional marketing campaigns: to create awareness and to affect behavior. The diversity communications metrics you use should increase each individual’s understanding of the organization’s diversity strategy and enhance his or her motivation for acting to achieve the organization’s strategic diversity objectives.

So, to measure the success of your diversity and inclusion communications, you need to apply the same steps as for marketing campaign measurement:

  1. Define your SMART objectives
  2. Define your audience
  3. Set a benchmark
  4. Gather data
  5. Analyze, report, and recommend

Let’s go through them one by one:

1. Set SMART objectives that define the outcomes you are trying to achieve.

There’s plenty of evidence that a good diversity and inclusion program makes a company more profitable. So putting a business value on being more diverse and inclusive isn’t that much of a stretch. The trick for internal communicators is showing the value of your communications around your diversity and inclusion efforts. So let’s start with typical marketing objectives:

  • Awareness. Ideally, all your employees and other key stakeholder groups would be aware not just of your policies but also the results of your efforts.
  • Understanding. As with any marketing campaign, awareness alone isn’t enough. They have to believe that you are doing what you say you’ve done. And they need to understand the benefits of the policy and buy into it enough to help implement it.
  • Consideration and Preference. A key goal for most D&I programs is talent recruitment. Good D&I program communications should make it easier to attract and retain talent, a direct bottom line benefit.
  • Drive Behavior. If your communications is effective, your target audience takes the actions you want them to take. Good D&I communications should:
    • Drive employees to be more inclusive in their actions and their hiring,
    • Be more engaged and supportive of D&I efforts, and,
    • With luck, reduce the risk of employee-driven crises. The last thing you need right now is for an employee walk-out over your policies. See Refinery29 and The Wing.

So your SMART objectives and appropriate metrics might be one or more of those in the following table:

GoalSmart ObjeciveUltimate Value Success Metric
Awareness100% of employees are aware of our D&I policies by EOY 2020Higher retention, lower recruitment costs% employees willing to recommend us as a good place to work
100% institutional investors are aware of our D&I policies by EOY 2020Increase stock price and recommendations20% increase in “buy” ratings or recommendations
Our ESG score increases by 10% due to our D&I policies by EOY 2020Increase stock price20% increase in “buy” ratings or recommendations
Understanding100% of employees believe we are on the right track regarding D&I by EOY 2020More revenue from a more diverse base% increase in employee NPS score

% reduction in Leader Say/Do credibility gap
20% increase in trust scores for corporate communications by EOY 2020More compliance with D&I policy% increase of employees agreeing with trust-related survey questions
Consideration and Preference25% increase in qualified minority applicants by EOY 2020Better talent pool, reduced recruitment costs

% increase in awareness or preference for specific components of your D&I program
Drive Behavior20% reduction in D&I related complaints by EOY 2020More engaged, satisfied workforce% improvement in Leader Say/Do score or other relationship scores
80% of employees willing to recommend as a good place for minority employees to work by EOY 2020Lower recruitment costs% increase in employee NPS score
50% decrease in unintentional racist language in email and other communications by EOY 2020Higher trust scores% increase in NPS and Trust scores

2. Define and segment your audiences

As with any marketing program, before you communicate anything you need to know to whom your messages are directed. In any organization there are dozens of different audience segments, such as:

  • New employees
  • Recent hires
  • Long term employees
  • Transgender employees
  • Over 50 versus under 35 employees
  • Work from home versus in-office employees
  • Satellite location versus home office employees
  • Tech versus sales versus finance employees
  • Contract workers
  • Consultants and partners
  • Prospective customers
  • Former customers
  • Existing customers

Each segment has different needs and wants, therefore you may need to tailor your communications accordingly. Which is why you need identify the needs and wants and preferences of each group. In other words, assuming you are doing a survey, you will want to ask demographic questions so you can better understand to whom you need to tell what.

If you have existing employee data, start with your weakest links: Who is least trusting? Which group had the highest turnover or the most difficulty recruiting talent? Always look for the ones who aren’t getting your messages, those are the ones you need to address first.

Once these audience segments have been identified, you need to flesh out the other parameters of your D&I measurement program, including:

  • Over what time frame do you expect to move the needle?
  • Are there specific tactics that need to be correlated with your efforts?
  • What is the budget?

Now define the specific metrics you will track. See the table above for some suggested metrics.

3. Establish a benchmark: What do you want to compare results to?

Measurement is essentially a comparative tool, and you always need something to compare results to. Whether it is internal perceptions over time or a comparison of your results to a peer company, you must provide a benchmark and a context for the results.

So, for example, suppose you are investing in an element of your diversity and inclusion program. Before beginning the program you would conduct a survey to establish benchmark levels of awareness and understanding of your D&I policies. After the program has run for six months, you would repeat the survey. By comparing the two results you can determine the impact of the program.

4. Gather data

Before you even begin to define the appropriate tool(s) to collect new data, it is always smart to dig around within your organization to find out what data already exists. Are there customer surveys, employee morale studies, or other research data that can be analyzed for D&I components?

If you are starting from scratch, bear in mind that there is no one, simple, all-encompassing research tool, technique, or methodology that can be relied on to measure and evaluate communications in all organizations. The choice of a tool depends on your objectives and the type of metrics you choose.

Best practice dictates that you will usually need to devise a combination of different measurement techniques appropriate for your company or client. One option is a Leader Say-Do survey, learn more at “Using a Leader Say-Do Survey To Align Leadership.

Perception of diversity drives levels of trust, and some of the tools and techniques to measure trust include:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Before-and-after polls

**Read The Measurement Advisor’s issue on trust measurement, starting with “Your Guide to Trust: How to Get It, Keep It, Measure It, and Regain It.”**

Typical questions to measure perceptions of D&I. Many of these  statements are similar to or the same as questions that test trust levels. Respondents are asked to use a 1-to-7 scale to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree that the statement describes their relationship with that particular organization. Typical statements might be:

  • This organization treats people like me fairly and justly.
  • Whenever this organization makes an important decision, I know it will be concerned about people like me.
  • This organization can be relied on to keep its promises.
  • I believe that this organization takes the opinions of people like me into account when making decisions.
  • Sound principles seem to guide this organization’s behavior.
  • This organization does not mislead people like me.
  • I am very willing to let this organization make decisions for people like me.
  • I think it is important to watch this organization closely so that it does not take advantage of people like me.

New technology platforms have reduced the cost and complexity of trust surveys considerably. Survata, for example, charges by the completed survey. You can survey 500 people, using 5 or 6 of the above statements, for $500.

5. Analyze, report, and recommend

The most important part of the measurement process is to analyze the data and learn from it:

  • What are the actionable points?
  • How can you change and improve?
  • What should you react to?
  • What should you ignore?
  • What needs to be done today?

It is important to measure failure first. Identify any skepticism or distrust of management goals and decisions before they develop into a crisis. You also need to help management understand that certain decisions might have adverse consequences on a public, so that management is encouraged to decide or behave differently than it would have otherwise. Frequently, good communications can help your stakeholders accept a decision that management wanted to make before communication took place. ∞

Image by Peggy Dyar from Pixabay.

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