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Build a Roadmap for a Data-Driven DEI Program

Create a successful data driven DEI program that benefits both employees and business performance.

Brief Summary

A Forbes survey of 321 executives found that nearly all companies (97%) have formal diversity and inclusion strategies. However, HBR reports that 75% of employees from underrepresented backgrounds do not feel that they personally benefited from their organization's diversity initiatives.

As Baroness McGregor-Smith pointed out in the 2017 Race in the Workplace review, “no employer can honestly say they are improving the ethnic diversity of their workforce unless they know their starting point and can monitor their success over time.” Curating a data driven DEI program might not only help to close the discrepancy between the company’s efforts and the eployeees’ reception, but it will also help you follow a successful DEI development path.  


Without data, DEI may not be seen as integral to the business. Those respon-sible for DEI can become overwhelmed with initiatives and unable to measure impact. In turn, DEI is not taken seriously by the organization and garners limited senior leadership support and involvement. Data has an important role in every step of the process of building and implementing an effective DEI strategy.


Collect qualitative and quantitative data to help identify and understand the issues; then create an evidence-based strategy and measure progress and success. Diversity metrics measure the balance of people in the workplace and if movement is equitable. Inclusion metrics measure if the employee experience is equitable.

Developing a DEI strategy is an iterative process that starts with identifying gaps in representation and opportunity, understanding why those gaps exist, implementing interventions to address those issues, measuring progress and holding the organization accountable, and then refining and advancing your strategy.

dei progress

Proposed Actions

Detailed guidance for each of the following steps can be found in the links to the individual practices briefs.

  1. Connect DEI with the Business: Establish the business context of DEI to ensure its relevance to your leadership team. Understand the market context of DEI within your industry, geography, and/or company size to frame the business context.
  2. Gain Leadership Commitment: Secure the support of leaders with with a facilitated discussion on the importance of DEI; this will enable you to grow advocacy for DEI amongst your leadership team.
  3. Gap Analysis to Identify Priorities: Collect actionable data to identify gaps and underlying causes of your DEI challenges. Identify priority issues for attention by building and understanding of how employees: are represented and move through your organization; feel and experience working in your organization; how that impacts business performance:
    Identify Diversity Priorities: Gap Analysis

    Identify Inclusion Priorities: Gap Analysis
  4. Build a Targeted Action Plan: Design interventions built on evidence; use a baseline to set measurable goals that advance DEI practices in your organization.
  5. Ensure Accountability: Continuously measure, monitor, and report to build accountability for action and progress.
  6. Report and Communicate: Tell the DEI story of the organization to drive the change at the right levels, improve transparency internally and externally, and bring the entire workforce on the journey; publish data to create a shared understanding of challenges, actions, and outcomes.
  7. Refine: Review and re-evaluate the strategy.

Valued Guidance

Implementation Plan

Preparation (Steps 1-2): 1-2 weeks

  • 1-2 days to build a presentation of D&I context;
  • One hour of time on leaders’ calendars to demystify D&I, discuss their hypotheses, and gain buy-in for data collection and commitment to supporting the resulting action plan;
  • Engage a task force of business leaders, communications, HR, and legal to guide data collection and strategy development;

Implementation (steps 3-4): 2-4 months

  • Timing for the analysis of HR data can vary widely depending of the quality and consistency of your database and the number of business entities to be analyzed; the time needed to compile, clean, and prepare the data for analysis can take one week to several weeks to compile representation.
  • Analyze data across the hierarchy of levels and identify disparities by demographics;
  • Options for employee perception data collection - budgets and timelines vary: 1) analyze engagement survey by demographics and level; 2) conduct internal inclusion survey or focus groups; 3) contract external resource for data collection and analysis;Task force meets for two days to identify key insights about where and why disparities exist; build strategy to address gaps;

Monitoring/Evaluating (Steps 5-7):

  • OngoingIdentify metrics to track and meet at least quarterly to review progress and report to leaders and organization;
  • Decide which findings to share transparently with the organization;
  • Build a DEI commitment/values statement that resonates with the organization but does not justify the business case (which inherently implies that valuing diversity is up for discussion or that tokenizes underrepresented minorities).

Save it for later!

Download the PDF version of this DEI Initiative

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