5 Essential Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Metrics Every Organization Should Track

How to define and measure inclusion at work

 “The value of a diverse team is its capacity to challenge the norm of groupthink and thus boost organizational performance and improve decision-making.”  —Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, Senior Vice President, DEI, Warner Music Group

Discussions around diversity in the workplace have evolved rapidly in recent years. By now, whether you work in human resources or not, you’d have to be hiding under a rock to ignore the value of investing in a diverse team. More importantly, you’d be missing out on all the magic that happens when companies truly foster equitable and inclusive workplaces. ✨


Diversity Gains

Now I’m not implying the giphy above is anyone reading this post, but I digress. So in case you missed it, McKinsey’s semi-annual report on the business case for diversity finds that:  

  • Companies with diverse boards and executive teams are associated with higher financial returns across industries and regions. To put it plainly: diversity helps increase revenue.
  • The most ethnically diverse companies are 39% more likely to outperform the least diverse.
  • More diversity in leadership roles is correlated to higher social and environmental impact scores as well as greater diversity across the organization.

Moreover, the aptly-titled 2023 report, ‘’Diversity Matters Even More’’, states that, ‘’This year, the business case is the strongest it has been since we’ve been tracking and, for the first time in some areas, equitable representation is in sight.’’

As you can see, progress is being made to increase diversity in organizations. Even better, we are pushing closer towards equity. So, where does that leave inclusion? Let’s start with defining these terms.

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

While the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are connected, their definitions vary. Fundamentally, it’s important to understand these basic terms before implementing any strategies, let alone attempting to measure their impact.

Diversity refers to the representation of your employee base. It’s who exists in your organization in terms of gender, race, age, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation, and more.

These examples of diversity are almost universally accepted, however, there are many ways we can look at diversity, including diversity of thought or socio-economic diversity. Like humans, how we identify and measure diversity continues to evolve.

Equity refers to leveling the playing field. Not to be confused with equality, equity takes into consideration the fact that individual circumstances vary and as such, we should adjust the way we treat people according to their unique lived experiences. Equality, on the other hand, means giving everyone equal treatment regardless of their needs.

For example, let’s say your organization notices there are fewer women in leadership positions than men. An equitable move would be to offer more development opportunities to high-potential (HIPO) women leaders. These could include mentoring programs, leadership coaching, or even opportunities to co-lead an employee resource group (ERG).

Inclusion refers to creating an environment where people from all backgrounds and identities feel valued, welcomed, respected, supported, and heard to the degree that individuals from all walks of life can fully participate in conversations, decisions, and development opportunities within their organization.

Alexander Fleischmann, PhD, is a prominent researcher on inclusion and how it’s measured. His research, ’Inclusive Future’’, focuses on how individuals perceive inclusion at their organizations.  ‘’At the organizational level, inclusion means that all individuals within an organization feel part of it, a sentiment that for a very long time was the privilege of dominant identity groups,’’ says Fleischmann. He also goes on to explain that ”belonging” is one aspect of inclusion.

“At the organizational level, inclusion means that all individuals within an organization feel part of it, a sentiment that for a very long time was the privilege of dominant identity groups.“

When it comes to the different abbreviations of these terms, you may see the order flipped around from time to time. For example:

  • DEI
  • DE&I
  • D&I
  • EI&D

The acronym you use will depend on the priorities of your organization. For example; equity, inclusion, and diversity (EI&D) indicates that there is a heightened focus on achieving equity above simply increasing representation (diversity) in the workplace.

5 Essential DEI Metrics

As Fleischmann points out, ”For diversity, legal constraints in many countries make it impossible to gather data on important dimensions such as race and sexuality. Consequently, organizations cannot reliably map and track their own diversity, nor compare it with that of other organizations.” Also, keep in mind that many people’s experiences are intersectional, so measuring one of these groups alone cannot speak to individuals whose identities intersect across multiple dimensions (ie. a white woman vs. a woman of color who is also disabled).

Once you’ve identified where your organization needs to focus, it’s time to implement strategies to create a truly inclusive workplace.

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Whether you’re focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, or all of the above, you can start by tracking these five essential HR metrics. They will help your organization benchmark and gauge how effectively DEI efforts impact company culture, engagement, and more.

1. Current representation

Measuring the current representation of your organization is critical to understanding where you have gaps and uncovering opportunities for growth. You can start by looking at representation by gender (male, female, non-binary, or other), race, and also abilities.

There are, however, obstacles to getting an accurate baseline when it comes to these metrics.

To dig deeper into the experiences of these individuals at your organization, you can also track data on turnover rates, promotion rates, and new hires as it relates to these same groups.

2. Accessibility

How accessible is your office? This could mean physical access such as ramps or elevators, but it can also mean digital accessibility.

Another way you can gauge accessibility is by ensuring employees are clear on how to request reasonable accommodations. Covered employers must make reasonable accommodations available to any individual with a disability who wishes to apply for or perform a job. These could include having a sign language interpreter or allowing neurodiverse individuals access to a quiet working environment whether working from their home offices or in-person.

When we think about a diverse workforce, it’s important to remember that this sentiment extends beyond gender and race. Since the CDC estimates that up to one in four adults in the United States have a disability, this is an important area to consider when developing your DEI strategy.

3. Gender pay gap

This is a big one. 💯

Measuring the gender pay gap is essential to achieve pay equity and eventually, gender parity. While many countries have made tremendous strides towards closing the pay gap in recent years, there is still more we can do. It starts with getting the right data to inform decisions. You can do this in a few ways: 

  1. Pay gap by base pay: the difference in pay between males and females as a percentage.
  2. Pay gap by RSP: the difference in relative salary position between males and females as a percentage. 

Once you’ve established the gaps for your overall organization as well as specific departments and roles, you can pinpoint areas of focus and set realistic goals. 

4. Inclusion Index

Measuring inclusion is only one part of the DEI puzzle, but it’s an important component. The industry-standard way of doing this is known as an Inclusion Index. The inclusion index, as outlined by Gartner,  takes into account seven key drivers of inclusion:

1. Fair treatment

2. Integrating differences

3. Decision making

4. Psychological safety

5. Trust

6. Belonging

7. Diversity

an image which outlines Gartner's Inclusion Index and the 7 seven key drivers of inclusion:

1. Fair treatment
2. Integrating differences
3. Decision making
4. Psychological safety
5. Trust
6. Belonging
7. Diversity
Source: Gartner, How to Measure Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

‘’Many organizations already have questions that measure some of these components in established employee engagement surveys,’’ says Fleischmann. But this type of measurement takes time and is costly. 

5. Inclusion Net Promoter Score (iNPS)

The iNPS or Inclusion Net Promoter Score is a new pulse tool intended to complement the more comprehensive Inclusion Index. This measurement is a simpler way to gauge inclusion and gain insights quickly. It is a single-scale evaluation that can be enriched with an open-ended free-text question to enhance insights. 

Click here to watch our webinar on demand, How to define and measure inclusion at work

While diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to be at the forefront of conversations among human resources and business leaders alike, many still struggle to prove the ROI of these efforts. 

When measuring the impact of DEI, it’s important to focus on clear objectives for your organization. As the HR leader, you know your employees better than anyone, so taking the extra steps we’ve outlined in this post to get baseline metrics is a great starting point. From there, you will want to plan out resources to ensure you can execute and measure your efforts as effectively as possible.

To learn more about measuring inclusion, tune-in to our recorded webinar on ‘’How to Define and Measure Inclusion at Work’’ Alexander Fleischmann, PhD.