by Mary L. Martinez
Director, Workforce Management & Diversity Consulting

Michal Fineman,
Senior Consultant

In ORC’s experience, one of the most challenging aspects of implementing a successful diversity initiative is finding the right measures. sometimes, in their desire to provide data, organizations lose sight of why they are measuring in the first place: to inform and drive the change process at both the organizational and individual levels. Metrics should be dictated by the organization’s diversity strategy and goals, which in turn derive from its business goals. To select the right metrics, you also need to think through what you need to know in order to analyze the organization’s systems and culture, what you need to report to stakeholders, and how you will structure the data.

To create a “balanced scorecard” or “dashboard,” you will want to include measures that address four areas:

  1. workforce demographics,
  2. work environment,
  3. program efficiency/effectiveness, and
  4. business impact.

In addition, the following “Ten Commandments” will help to make your measurement of D&I progress more effective.

Ten Commandments for Diversity & Inclusion Metrics

  1. Thou shalt collaborate with business units and functions to determine how D&I will impact their business strategies, and set goals and measures accordingly.
  2. Thou shalt not limit thyself to workforce demographics. Thou shalt use measures from each of the four families.
  3. Thou shalt measure sparingly, tracking only what will drive action towards strategic goals.
  4. Thou shalt consider the maturity of your diversity initiative when selecting metrics, and change them over time.
  5. Thou shalt work closely with country HR and business management to understand the “differences that make a difference” in each location and define demographic categories in ways that make sense locally.
  6. Thou shalt provide managers with the coaching, education, and tools they need to be able to reach the goals against which they are measured.
  7. Thou shalt avoid jumping to conclusions about why the results of employee surveys are what they are. Apply accepted statistical standards and dig deeper to uncover root causes.
  8. Thou shalt define the outcomes desired—e.g., change in behavior, cost savings, etc.—and how they will be measured before launching a new program or initiative.
  9. In attempting to demonstrate the Roi of a diversity initiative, thou shalt be conservative in calculating value.
  10. Thou shalt report diversity and inclusion metrics in every meeting in which business results are reviewed, displaying the information creatively to tell the story vividly and succinctly.

While “Ten Commandments” implies that these rules are set in stone—and our research tells us that they do hold true in most environments—how each organization implements them will differ to some extent. This is because measurement is as much art as science—as much literature as math; the data are important, but so is the story. And to tell a good story, you must know your audience. diversity practitioners need to understand their organization’s culture, the language of the business, and leadership’s appetite for data in order to apply these rules appropriately and effectively.

ORC Worldwide (ORC) is an international management consulting firm offering professional assistance in the areas of global equality, diversity and inclusion; talent management; global and domestic compensation; labor and employee relations; and occupational safety and health. Visit for more information.