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Eliminating Ambiguity: Tools to Create and Measure Progress on DE+I Goals

In the wake of the George Floyd killing and the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020, companies big and small vowed to prioritize their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE+I). These public oaths varied in scope and specificity, from broad promises to act as a force against racial injustice to highly publicized appointments of Chief Diversity Officers. However, two and a half years later, employees and stakeholders at several organizations report that they haven’t seen significant shifts in DE+I culture and practices.  Below, we explore why DE+I initiatives often fail and how to ensure your organization is eliminating ambiguity when it comes to setting and measuring progress on DE+I goals. 

Why DE+I Initiatives Fail 

So, why are so many DE+I initiatives in the workplace failing? Are businesses failing to achieve their goals or failing to communicate progress against them? In both scenarios, disappointing performance can likely be attributed, at least in part, to ambiguity. Unfortunately, given the limited success of DE+I programming in the corporate setting up to this point and the lack of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, companies can’t rely on historical successes to guide the creation of future programs. Without a clear action plan and line-of-sight to what success looks like, ambiguity overwhelms motivation.   

Ambiguity is detrimental to the successful creation and execution of DE+I initiatives for several reasons. Firstly, ambiguity can trigger analysis paralysis. With no obvious “correct” path forward, people often become overwhelmed by the amount of data to consider, the various options to pursue, and the upsides and downsides to each potential choice. Too much data can be paralyzing and may prevent any choice from being made at all. DE+I programs often lose steam because no one can decide on the next best action and, therefore, no action is made at all. Additionally, ambiguity creates problems when trying to develop key performance indicators (KPIs). How can inclusion and belonging really be measured? How can we assess culture? The difficulty of trying to quantify these qualities deters organizations from measuring them at all.   

Eliminating Ambiguity 

One way to avoid ambiguity in goal setting is to make your goals “SMART.” This acronym stands for  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In other words, well-constructed goals require thoughtfully applied parameters. Even with this framework in mind, it’s impossible to create “SMART” goals if we don’t know what we should be measuring, how we should be measuring it, what’s achievable and relevant for our organization, or how long achieving our goals will take.  

Fortunately, tools can help create “SMART” goals by answering these questions. An effective tool can help companies at any stage in their DE+I strategy journey, from defining the starting point, to building KPIs, to measuring, interpreting, and communicating results. In order to provide a best-in-class solution to our clients, Clarkston has developed a proprietary tool, “Insights to Action,” that helps organizations create a clear action plan, define success criteria, measure progress, and report against DE+I goals. The intersectional nature of the Insights to Action tool enables your business to compare the perception of DE+I culture against existing diversity data to demonstrate gaps between perception and reality.   

What We’ve Seen Work 

In 2020, Monday Night Brewing, an award-winning food and beverage company, partnered with Clarkston to take concrete steps toward DE+I using Insights to Action. The primary objectives for this project team included gaining insights into the current employee perception of DE+I practices, improving the company’s understanding of formal and informal coworker networks and how they relate to metrics, and developing a foundation for shaping organizational practices and policies in the future. Some of the key benefits that resulted from this project for the client partnership included protecting the confidentiality of employees by serving as an unbiased third party and providing end-to-end management of survey results and analysis. The team was able to provide validity to the results of the equity and engagement employee findings by utilizing the Insights to Action platform, and in turn, create a baseline to compare future growth and better understand the effectiveness of future endeavors for the company.   

Next Steps : Measuring Progress on DE+I Goals 

Our Insights to Action tool is highly customizable, leverages data you already own, and can be adapted to your business’s unique culture, practices, and goals. If your company wants to learn more about Insights to Action and how Clarkston can help you achieve your DE+I goals, let’s chat.   

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Contributions from Caroline Hubbard 

Tags: Diversity + Inclusion