Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a crucial component of a successful organization. Many organizations have created initiatives to foster greater DEI but measuring their success can be a challenge, or at worst, is not done. In a workplace, DEI ultimately ensures equal opportunity within the organization and in hiring and its implementation should not simply be to meet societal standards. DEI changes and programs must actually have substance to be impactful and meaningful. Successful DEI includes a diverse leadership team and creates places where associates feel like they belong. A strong sense of belonging positively impacts happiness, engagement, and productivity, and creates an environment that people want to stay in and transform for the better. Maintaining a successful DEI program within an organization is an important step in helping companies to effectively develop and grow.
Defining the Characteristics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Workplace diversity improves productivity and problem-solving, leads to greater innovation, and results in better employee performance. A diverse organization includes populations that have been underrepresented or marginalized and it is important to ensure that all people are not only represented but treated fairly as well. It is important to consider the range of characteristics that can comprise diversity, which include but is not limited to:
- Sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic background
- Political mindset
- Military service
When individuals are encouraged and empowered to share their insights and to contribute fully to the organization’s success, without feeling judged, an organization is considered inclusive. In an inclusive workplace environment, all people can feel comfortable being themselves regardless of their culture, background, and ways of thinking. Each individual represents a unique set of experiences, backgrounds, skills, and capabilities. In an inclusive environment, all people are valued and embraced. This allows all people to feel comfortable being themselves.
While some aspects of DEI can be measured easily with surveys, gauging people’s sentiments and growth over time for an organization requires actual quantifiable indices. Many organizations want to ensure their DEI policies and procedures align with their missions and vision statements but actually measuring individuals’ sentiments in these regards requires a standardized method. It is also important to track whether policies and procedures have an impact on DEI and to analyze individual and organizational growth.
How can organizations measure DEI?
Understanding each individual’s role in creating and maintaining diversity in the workplace builds organizational DEI by building and creating an understanding of it for each person. The Inclusion Competencies Inventory (ICI) can be used by any agency, organization, or business to assess competencies associated with effective inclusive behavior. It evaluates the critical competencies needed for associates to be more inclusive, measures changes in competencies, and provides self-analysis for improvement.
The ICI quantifies an individual’s inclusive engagement factors to identify and address common barriers to achieving DEI in an organization. The three factors the ICI provides insight into to define and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion are:
- Knowing Oneself – defines who an individual is, their capacity to change and develop over time, and their resilience in the face of a challenging situation.
- Knowing Others – characterizes an individual’s interest and ability to develop relationships with people who differ from them and their ability to better understand them.
- Bridging Differences – measures an individual’s interest and ability to see and understand multiple perspectives, and their sensitivity to inequities in power differentials within organizations and situations.
Within these three factors of the ICI, there are six quantified dimensions:
- Openness to Change – measures awareness and interest in continuous learning and development.
- Adaptability – assesses the likelihood of maintaining a stable emotional self when challenged by difficult problems and interpersonal issues.
- Connecting with Others – quantifies the desire to interact with different people and to understand their needs and values.
- Reading Others – evaluates the important skill of sensing and accurately interpreting what others are feeling based on behavioral cues.
- Valuing Different Perspectives – gauges openness to diverse perspectives and an appreciation and understanding of them.
- Power Sensitivity – calculates awareness of power dynamics in both organizational structures and individual relationships.
The ICI’s comprehensive, individual report provides knowledge and tools to move forward with developing a holistic DEI skill set for any situation. A strength of the ICI is that it can be taken multiple times by the same person to show growth over time, providing an excellent tool to quantitatively analyze the success of DEI initiatives.
The results of the ICI help foster and create a workplace that values and embraces different ways of thinking and diverse relationships. This knowledge helps maintain DEI initiatives. Part of a successful DEI initiative includes making a point to educate associates about different cultures and traditions, being open to new ideas and perspectives, and accepting colleagues with different backgrounds.
By welcoming, valuing, and ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals within it, an organization can create a culture that truly manifests diversity, equity, and inclusion. Maintaining DEI initiatives is an important step in helping companies attract, retain, and develop a diverse workforce. Measuring the success of DEI initiatives has proven harder for companies to accomplish. Simply stating that an organization has diversity, equity, and inclusion or is fostering DEI in its policies and procedures doesn’t mean that any criteria are being met or that the organization is truly operating under the principles of DEI. Assessing individuals within an organization using the ICI provides a measurement of what capabilities each person brings to the challenge of being more inclusive and the steps each can take to develop their inclusive competencies.
The ICI is one of the best tools available for someone to measure an individual’s growth and development for DEI initiatives. As our society continues to structure themselves to be more diverse, have more equity, and be more inclusive, measuring the success of these initiatives is tantamount to their success and integration into an organization’s culture and dynamic. Gathering data and an objective assessment of how well individuals within an organization can adapt and grow in their diversity, equity, and inclusion competencies is indispensable to having a successful DEI program or plan.