What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done

4 Oct, 2017

Your organization is ready for change, you’ve rallied your people and have implemented a new program or two. How do we know what we have done has been successful? What does success look like? How will we know when we’ve made a significant impact?

Let’s start with the basics. Why measure your efforts?

  • If you are investing significant capital or human resources towards an objective, it is key to ensure that you see a return on investment;
  • To confirm whether your initiative has hit its objectives;
  • To gain more in-depth insights into your members and stakeholders on their wants and needs in order to feed into future initiatives, campaigns or strategy;
  • Hard data enables you as an organization to make informed future decisions;
  • To remain competitive, progressive and forward thinking.

When it comes to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), how do we possibly measure success?

Measuring D & I can be tricky because it is multifaceted and complex. But it absolutely can and should be done. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked by various stakeholders: “so how do you know what you are doing is working?”.

First and foremost, prior to evaluating your outcomes you must identify initial targets and objectives. Make the initial objectives attainable- Rome wasn’t built in a day. A series of measurements in smaller steps builds momentum and creates gratification.

There is no accountability If we don’t have ways to measure and evaluate what we have done and its effectiveness. Efforts could fall flat and die out if we don’t continuously revisit and evaluate progress (or lack thereof).

A first step to evaluation is to draw on the performance indicators that align with your targets and objectives. Performance indicators are not goals, they outline what you want to measure in the future. For example, if your objective is to recruit more women into the trades and one of the many actionable items is to launch a social media campaign to bring awareness of the opportunities for women in construction, a performance indicator can be how often stories or photos were shared & often your campaign hashtag was used, i.e. how far and wide did your messaging reach, how many people were engaged. This is one performance indicator. To measure this, the tool you would use is web analytics. You may have many performance indicators and many measurement tools as you may have many actionable items.

Measurement Tools

You’ve outlined your targets and objectives, your actionable items and your performance indicators. Now it’s time to move on to the evaluation stage.

The best way to measure success of diversity and inclusion programs is to show real statistical differences in numbers.

Not just numbers of women or Indigenous Peoples you have recruited, but numbers you have retained, numbers of individuals in these underrepresented groups that have applied, have been trained and that have been promoted to other positions within your organization.

To do this- we need data.  If we are not tracking these things how can we possibly know our efforts are paying off? Luckily Statistics Canada helps us with some of this stuff- but often it is not broken down into the segments we require to accurately measure (i.e. union vs non-union). Tracking does not mean you are isolating one group and contributing to the bias, it is quite the opposite. Data can also expose failure, which can direct or start new efforts.

Quantitative data is of course one of the best ways to measure success. But it is not the only way. Qualitative tells us a lot about where we are at with our efforts and where we need to go.

Here are some ways you can measure success of your Diversity and Inclusion programs Qualitatively and Quantitively:

  • Increase in retention numbers of underrepresented groups;
  • Increased representation of underrepresented groups at different levels of our organizations (i.e. leadership roles);
  • Active committees advocating on behalf of underrepresented groups;
  • Member satisfaction surveys;
  • Fewer discrimination and harassment grievances and complaints;
  • More diverse applicants, more diverse hiring;
  • Improvements in productivity;
  • Active mentorship and support programs;
  • Accommodations for pregnancy & cultural practices;
  • More positive responses on exit interviews & survey’s;
  • Higher ranking of the organization in terms of best places to work;
  • Becoming an employer of choice;
  • Awards from special interest and advocacy groups;
  • Focus groups: positive feedback from a variety of stakeholders, members, underrepresented groups in the industry;
  • Savings in recruitment costs from achieving higher retention rates for underrepresented members through building a more inclusive culture.

One of the important things to remember is to celebrate your achievements, big and small. If you see increments of success and know that your efforts are paying off, celebrate that you are making a real difference. The work may not be done, it may never be done in our lifetime, but take a moment to recognize when your efforts have paid off. Being an agent of change is hard work, it can be exhausting and sometimes frustrating and consumes all of your time. Take care of yourself, and then spend some time renewing your objectives and actionable items.

A wise man once said- from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow. Remember that and keep moving forward one step at a time.

In our next blog we will celebrate and highlight the success of the Women Build the Nations conference – an inspiring conference that brought together over 1500 tradeswomen and aspiring tradeswomen from all over the world in 2016. It is anticipated that 2000 tradeswomen will attend this year’s conference held Oct 13-15 in Chicago.