Scoring Your Scorecards: A Guide to Evolving and Presenting Diversity Metrics

DiversityInc Best Practice’s “Guide to Developing Diversity Scorecards and Metrics” is an insider’s guide for diversity and data teams that provides insights on data transparency, scorecard strategy and development, as well as tips on driving accountability in your diversity efforts. This article is part two; check out part one HERE.

As diversity leaders look to communicate the successes and failures of their organization to executives and employee populations, the metrics and methods they use to do so will go a long way toward increasing investment from the C-suite and maintaining buy-in from the people on the ground.

As we established in part one, scorecards are a tremendous asset in the measurement and communication efforts. This article will focus on how leading companies develop those metrics and the communications strategies with employees and the public.

One of the caveats that most companies overlook is that the scorecard itself has to be tailored to the audience. While transparency is more important than ever, so is context. We often hear of the need to equip leaders with the right data to make better decisions, but is the raw data merely sufficient?

Erik Mitchell, Associate Vice President of Workforce Diversity at AT&T (a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company), outlined how the company has increased transparency responsibly over the past year while working to empower leaders with data.

“If we’re talking about something we share with all employees, I’d say you’re going to want to give them the minimum amount of information required to be completely transparent,” Mitchell said. “The level of detail provided to executives would typically only be shared with employees through something like an executive statement, just to avoid creating any potential turmoil among specific employees.”

According to Mitchell, the higher the leadership level, the more sensitive, confidential, proprietary, or simply granular the data becomes. “The concern is that they’ll then go and say the wrong thing in the wrong place, and someone takes it out of context,” Mitchell said. “A big piece of this has been those leaders working with HR leaders to build their competency in how to share and communicate this data with the right terminology because they should see those deeper details of where they can make adjustments that will actually move the needle on diversity.”

Metric Development for Scorecards

Deciding which metrics to focus on and how to portray them in a scorecard is another challenge, but this comes back to a basic principle: what is the business goal tied to those metrics? It’s much easier to maintain leadership buy-in and make a case for your next DEI initiative if they can see its impact on the business.

“To be truly effective, a diversity scorecard centers on a clear strategic vision tied to real business outcomes,” said Christopher Johnson, Director of Inclusion and Diversity at Humana (No. 13 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021). “Objectives are formed to align to the strategy, and once those are clear, metrics are chosen to inform progress towards goals. An effective scorecard tells a story and visually informs an initiatives’ contribution to the set objectives.”

Johnson emphasized that metrics can focus on diverse representation, talent movement, organizational culture or associate belonging. His team works to determine which metrics tell the most accurate story. All stakeholders have to spend time aligning on the drivers of change and the best mechanisms to affect that change. Whenever possible, it’s helpful to embed DEI metrics into business strategies and measurements.

“Best practice informs us that leader accountability and engagement is key to making the transformational change we aspire to achieve in the years ahead,” Johnson said. We’ve identified some of these measures as being those related to diverse representation in management, measuring leader cultural competency, as well as leveraging historical trends around attrition/retention of diverse associate leaders and involvement in activities that drive a culturally competent and inclusive culture.”

Johnson’s team will also determine additional data to capture for near-term indicators, which demonstrate if the company is making substantive and systemic changes that will lead to achieving goals (near-term annual goals and longer-term strategy goals, 3 – 5 years).

At AT&T, however, the philosophy is not setting concrete goals or targets that could be mistaken as hiring quotas. AT&T’s approach can create a challenge for recruiters and hiring managers; how are they supposed to measure their diversity performance without a target to hit for representation?

“We ask them to look at the overall workforce representation for all groups and to match that at all levels,” Mitchell said. “I shouldn’t see that all of your diversity is down at the entry-level, and they don’t get any further once they’re in the door. Those representation numbers may change evolve over time as the size and makeup of your workforce change, but when we give them these reports, they can see where the gaps are and work with HR VPs to make sure they move forward in the right way.”

Those informal targets based on the overall makeup of their organization may lead to questions around accountability, but a big part of ensuring that these efforts are tangible and have a bit of credibility is starting from the right place.

“We’ve been training our managers to better examine the external landscape,” said Rick Gomez, HR Business Partner at AT&T. “Talent acquisition is always looking to make sure that the slate of candidates mirrors external availability in terms of diversity. Our managers are now helping drive that conversation by pushing back when that slate isn’t matching what they see in the external landscape. Instead of saying ‘well, nobody applied,’ they’re thinking about what else we can be doing to get diverse candidates. That could be related to where the job is posted, how it’s posted, what the job description says, or maybe we need to work on internal development with diverse employees that are already here. But it starts with managers being able to see it and being willing to say they’re not okay with a lack of diverse candidates.”

Evolution of the Scorecard

As representation evolves, so too does the scorecard. If current diversity efforts bear fruit, then there will be little doubt left about the value of the investment and the need to maintain a workforce that reflects the broader talent pool — but the work doesn’t simply stop there.

“As organizations continue to mature their DEI efforts, it’s likely that scorecards leveraged will be more intentional, focusing on areas that can drive the most impact in the most effective ways possible,” Johnson said. “This will allow us to act with urgency and to pivot as needed when the data tells us we are seeing progress or falling short.”

Johnson believes that the continued evolution of near real-time data, coupled with interactive and automated scorecard information for leaders and teams, will continue to drive transparency and innovation. Scorecards and the data that underpin them will continue to evolve to include metrics that not only drive representation but also influence critically important inclusion measures like associate engagement, mentoring, well-being and health equity.

Some additional areas that will be of importance are the organization’s overall impact in the social justice arena. Tracking how the organization connected with and gave back to the community will have value with a generation that places organizational values high on its list of priorities when analyzing an employer.

The attention paid to systemic racism, pay gaps and other inequities will see a greater focus on women, women of color and people of color — including a look into which groups are underrepresented. Supplier diversity is an area more companies need to be tracking as a lack of transparency in this area will ultimately undermine your DEI efforts. And finally, ESG analysis and reporting is growing in importance, especially in uncertain economic times and in an environment where the climate crisis fills the air with more uncertainty than ever.

For AT&T, measuring additional dimensions of diversity beyond race and gender is its current focus. As is common with many companies, self-ID rates are unreliable and undermine data integrity around DEI in groups that don’t fit neatly into a race or gender box.

“Interestingly enough, as we’ve become more transparent, we’ve had members of the LGBTQ+ group, for example, come forward and point out if we’re not telling them how many people in this workforce are part of that community, we’re actually canceling them [out],” Mitchell said. “They feel that yes, the business is willing to honor them, but we’re not telling people that they’re here. The struggle is that we know the numbers are not complete. We’re going to have to find a better way to measure those dimensions with integrity because people are asking for it. Now that we’re sharing this information more readily, we’re raising the expectations around what we will do with it.”

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