Getting Started With Gender Equity Data Collection
Updated: May 17, 2022
Welcome to my weekly Q&A feature. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. Each week I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusion.
Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
Inclusion: bringing others along on the journey.
How To Measure Gender Equity
My company has decided to embark on a DEI strategy pivot (or as I am calling it, a DEI do-over). We are beginning the process of data collection. Where do you recommend we start? Should we focus more on the D for now, then the E and the I? How do we strike a balance between the three letters of this initialism?
Curious about something? Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of Brave Souls®.
Congratulations on taking the first step toward a data-driven DEI strategy. Data’s modest demeanor (they’re only numbers, right?) has a poignant way of revealing our vulnerabilities and holding us accountable to our goals. That said, the process of DEI data collection can seem Byzantine. But it doesn’t have to be.
When you track the right metrics inside of a proper framework, your organization will be able to answer one of the most perplexing questions in the corporate world today: How effective are we at translating our good intentions into tangible progress toward DEI? Let’s start by defining the proper framework.
A Framework For DEI Data
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “what gets measured gets managed.” While true, many companies fall into the trap of measuring the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
Measure the wrong metrics → manage the wrong priorities → produce the wrong outcomes
Architecting a framework for DEI data collection can ensure you’re measuring the right metrics for the right reasons.
1. What outcomes are you hoping to achieve by collecting DEI data? Aiming for regulatory compliance? Trying to boost employer branding? Pitch investors? (It’s important to remember that the end goal of DEI isn’t more diversity. The end goal of DEI is expanded economic gains for everyone: your company, your people, and your community.)
2. How will you apply the data to inform your strategy and achieve your stated outcomes? If you don’t plan on using the data you collect to inform your strategy, don’t waste time collecting it.
3. Who will have access to this data—key decision makers? The board? Employees? The press? I recommend implementing some level of transparency with your DEI data. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Think of data transparency as a continuum.
Consider what Glitch CEO Anil Dash said: “Transparency isn’t the goal. The goal is paying everyone fairly, and transparency forces us to do that.”
Now, which metrics should you track?
Important DEI Metrics
There’s no shortage of DEI metrics you can track to align with your framework, so be strategic when starting. The top three KPIs to track in the beginning are pay, performance, and potential. Here’s why.
Companies make three key decisions about their talent every year:
How will we pay our employees?
How will we review their performance?
How will we evaluate their potential?
For the average Fortune 500 company which has approximately 60,000 employees, these three decisions (pay, performance, potential) create 180,000 opportunities to move further from or closer to DEI each year. Your company also has hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities to inch closer to DEI.
No one data point can paint a complete picture of DEI at a company. So acknowledge the complexity of DEI data AND remember that you need to start somewhere.
Finally, a quick word on balancing the D, E, and I of DEI.
How To Balance The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Equation
Without an equitable and inclusive workplace to support a diverse workforce, you risk losing the very people you seek to attract. (And the cost of replacing an employee ranges from 20-150% of their salary.) If you optimize for diversity before equity and inclusion, you jeopardize the longevity of your DEI efforts.
From day one at Pipeline, I’ve said the best way to create a diverse workforce is to ensure the success of your existing diverse workforce. And you ensure the success of your existing diverse workforce through inclusion and equity.
If you can say yes to the following questions (which you need data to answer!), then you’re on the right track:
Are we promoting people equitably across all intersectional cohorts? (Intersectional = disaggregating the data by at least gender PLUS race/ethnicity PLUS age)
Are we paying people equitably across all intersectional cohorts?
Are employees given equitable access to resources and opportunities for advancement?
When it comes to inclusion, Accenture researchers found that if US companies closed 50% of the perception gap between what senior leaders believe about employee inclusion versus what employees really feel, profits would be 33% (= $1.05 trillion) higher.
Wishing you luck and bravery as you embark on your journey to a more equitable workplace.
Curious about something? Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.
© 2022 Katica Roy™, Inc.