Success isn’t always in the numbers.
It’s three years into the “racial awakening” in America. Does your organization look different?
It has been gratifying to work with clients ready to invest in hiring a more diverse pool of talent, so that they can benefit from the widest range of perspectives (and respond to stakeholder demands for racial justice).
But I’m hearing from some of them that they are concerned. Three years later the numbers aren’t there. They’ve been making efforts to expand their pipelines and make their interview process fairer. Yet they have not reached their target demographic make-up. They want to know—what went wrong? Has their recruitment strategy failed?
Well, possibly. But with DEI work, measurement is complicated. Staff demographics won’t tell the whole story.
The deeper question is, are you measuring other things besides who works with you? Specifically, are you measuring your organizational climate?
You can bring in diverse talent with one set of strategies. But if you don’t have an inclusive culture once they arrive, you risk watching them exit through a revolving door. No matter how excited you are to make an offer to a brilliant person of color you wouldn’t have connected with a few years ago, if you throw them into an unpleasant or unsafe atmosphere or don’t give them challenging work, critical feedback, or advancements, why would they stay? Talented people always have options. Some other organization will recognize their talent and let them soar. In addition to being demoralizing, turnover is expensive for an organization.
So don’t limit your focus to recruiting and hiring. Assess the systems you have in place.
Ensure that new hires are onboarded appropriately.
Connect new hires with a mentor or buddy so that they feel welcome from day one.
Make sure that your processes for assignments, evaluation and promotion are equitable.
Provide contemporaneous feedback that is developmental.
Use an annual employee survey to track how people are experiencing the organization.
Analyze the data by demographics to ascertain if any groups are feeling marginalized.
Find ways to notice other indicators of inclusion, like who attends company events, and who volunteers to do the extra work of celebrations and other milestones.
Those are the numbers that tell you if your organization is a place where a diverse workforce might actually want to stay.