How to tell if your diversity and inclusion strategy is on track

How do I know if our diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy is on the right track? This has been a very difficult question to answer for many D&I professionals, especially when asked by a senior leader.

The answer to the question in the past has been hard to quantify and it may have depended entirely on who you asked. But there really is a good way to evaluate this and CCDI can help you in a number of ways. And we can do that using a robust, globally accepted tool: The Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks©.

The Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks or GDIB©, developed by the Diversity Collegium, is a free, downloadable guide to help you assess the maturity of your D&I programming or strategy against benchmarks that have been validated by global D&I experts. The GDIB is calibrated to apply to any organization regardless of industry, size, location or whether they are public or private.

Of course, you can go to the Diversity Collegium website and download the guide for free and benchmark yourself. If this seems daunting or you want some additional assistance with or validation of your assessment, CCDI uses the GDIB in two ways:

1. GDIB Benchmark coaching:

The GDIB is very comprehensive and for those organizations that have concentrated their efforts on programs or initiatives in human resources, the benchmarks for other categories may be new to them. Using the free downloadable guide, CCDI can coach you on how to interpret the benchmarks and guide you on choosing the correct progress level for each of the fourteen categories, so that you have a more realistic assessment of the maturity of your D&I efforts.

2. Maturity Meter™

Maturity Meter™ is a qualitative measurement tool that evaluates the maturity of your organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy. In other words, it gives your organization a third-party perspective on the progress or maturity of your efforts to embed a diversity and inclusion approach in your business processes.

This online questionnaire and survey is largely based on the GDIB©, but to ensure that a wide range of inclusion perspectives were incorporated, CCDI consulted several well-renowned inclusivity indexes such as the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, the Disability Equality Index from the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Inclusive Workplace Index developed by TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council) and the Canadian National Standards for Psychological Health and Safety.

Maturity Meter™ includes:

a) An online employer questionnaire (≈ 160 yes/no questions) of which nine of the questions allow for the uploading of documents that demonstrate the validity of the answers to the questions;
b) An online employee validation survey where a random sample (at least 10 per cent of employee population) are surveyed to validate the employer answers; and a
c) Third party evaluation of the employer responses.

During 2016, CCDI piloted the Maturity Meter™, then called the Employer Inclusivity Index, with employers in Alberta. Using specific measurable criteria, the Meter distinguishes between the intent of an organization’s diversity and inclusion plans and the experience of employees in the workplace. This measurement eliminates any subjective guesswork in assessing how mature your strategy is, ranking each employer based on qualitative and quantitative research with a score that reflects the true progress based on global benchmarks, leading indicators and best practices.

The process for participating is quite simple.

First is a self-assessment. A representative from your organization completes an online questionnaire. The questions are predominantly Yes/No. However, in up to nine instances, if the answer is yes, the organization is asked to provide evidence (supporting documentation).

The second level of assessment is with third-party subject experts who review the supporting documents against the standards mentioned above.

The third (optional) level of assessment involves a survey that is sent to a random sampling of employees in the organization to validate your responses and gauge your employees’ perceptions of the implementation of the strategy. Why validate your responses? Well, if you indicate that you have implemented a diversity strategy, and only 10 per cent of employees know about it, that’s an indication that there’s room for improvement in your communications and execution of the strategy, among other indications.

The final deliverable from Maturity Meter™ is a detailed report outlining your score, comprehensively explaining it, and providing steps and actions that can be taken to move your diversity and inclusion strategy forward in a sustainable way.

The scores provided back to you are not meant to be viewed as a final grade or exam mark. Every score above zero is a win for diversity, indicating that you have taken some action and are interested in moving forward on your diversity journey. The additional commentary is to provide direction based on the relative stage at which your organization is currently operating. Each organization is on a unique diversity journey with individual corporate goals and strategies. This will not be a one size fits all solution.

Pilot participants in Alberta have had great feedback on the process. Many have expressed appreciation because going through the exercise of completing the questionnaire helped them to consider the impact diversity and inclusion has on their organization. The tool does not just look at internal (HR-related) impacts, but also product and service development and delivery, marketing and communications, suppliers and many other areas throughout the organization where diversity and inclusion can have a tremendous impact.

Employers have remarked that the question within the Self-Assessment portion of Maturity Meter™ sparked internal discussions around topics that their organizations had never previously considered. Some organizations used the questions to conduct a web content accessibility guidelines assessment of the organization’s online presence and print materials. Yet another realized that increasing employees’ knowledge of the internal practises of job classification and promotion information would help eliminate the corporate perception that managers were free to give salary adjustments and promotions without process and oversight. Those are just some of the valuable outcomes.

So, if your organization is:

a) beginning its diversity and inclusion journey and you would like to know how your diversity strategy compares to relevant benchmarks, OR
b) managing some diversity and inclusion programs or initiatives and you would like to grow them into a strategic approach by evaluating them against the benchmarks, THEN

Maturity Meter™ is the right thing for you.

This is a great way to get a litmus test of your D&I efforts. Inevitably, organizations always believe that they are further ahead than they really are on the D&I front. That’s normal! Maturity Meter™ provides a reality check to help recalibrate where your efforts are being placed, validate that efforts are appropriate and identify any large gaps that may be key to successfully reaching annual goals.

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