Measuring diversity

Measuring return on diversity initiatives or programs is not always an easy task, therefore difficult to establish a job well done. Even if an organization knows what to measure, it is often unclear how the process should be conducted. Team productivity, creativity and innovation are not always easy to measure. Here are some areas of measurements to consider that may assist in establishing a world-class diversity program and/or initiative.

I. Quantitative measurements

Many quantitative measures focus on the amount or number of persons in an organization based on traditional affirmative action definitions. Quantitative measurements are aligned with basic principles of affirmative action. An organization may establish quantitative measures based on:

Representation: What is the workforce profile of the organization? Are the percentages and numbers of the workforce aligned with the general workforce of the local area, state, or nation? Which groups are under-represented in the workforce? What will the organization do to align the internal measurement with the benchmarked measurement of the workforce?

Hiring: Are the new hires in the organization the same demographic as the applicants and candidates who received interviews? Does this reflect the range of diversity available in the pipeline? Are certain groups less represented in the recruiting and hiring process? What does the diversity of applicants and hires look like for external candidates vs. internal candidates? Is the organization broadening the pool of applicants by extended outreach efforts?

Development: How many employees have an individual development plan? Dissatisfaction with development drives employees to seek opportunities outside the company. Having a development plan helps employees to see beyond their immediate position to longer-term opportunities, which ties them to the organization. Retaining employees can reduce turnover. Written development plans have been found to be helpful for affirmative action affected groups as well as the general workforce population.

Pay equity: Are employees among affirmative action affected groups paid the same as white male counterparts or those in similar positions? The right of employees to be free from discrimination in their compensation is protected under several federal laws, including the following enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal.

Promotion: What are the promotion rates of men, women and other affected groups within the organization? Are the rates similar for men and women? Are the rates similar for Whites and people of color?

Turnover: Who is leaving the organization? Voluntary and involuntary turnover by demographic category should be reviewed. If the turnover rates for each demographic group are not similar, then further research for reasons of the disparity is needed. What is the retention of high performers? Some organizations set goals to retain a certain percentage of high performers.

Accessibility of Program and Services: How many ADA enhancements were made to ensure programs and services were accessible to all persons? What were the number of hours of language translation services used by the organization to serve staff and customers?

II. Qualitative measurements

Qualitative measurements can be outcome-oriented or activity-based. Outcome measures focus on how an organization "feels", for example, the perceived level of inclusion felt by all employees. Activity-based measurements can assess the robustness of an organization's diversity effort in its recruiting, retention and training areas. Outcome measures can focus on:

Employee inclusion: Results of employee satisfaction surveys?

Customer feedback: Does the organization solicit customer feedback on diversity programs or initiatives? Consider soliciting current as well as potential customers for what they perceive are critical diversity issues for the organization.

Employee resource/affinity groups: Does the organization have employee resource or affinity groups? If so, how many groups are there in the organization? How many employees participate in these groups and/or the sponsored events? These groups can be a resource for their constituencies, provide honest feedback to human resources and senior management, and be an integral part of an overall diversity effort.

III. Activity-based measurements


  • Has everyone involved in interviewing candidates received diversity training?
  • Have all job descriptions been reviewed for essential job related functions?
  • Are diverse interviewing panels assembled for all job openings?
  • Have policies and benefits been reviewed and improved to attract a wider range of employees?
  • How many diverse interns and co-op students does your organization have?
  • How many relationships have been formed with schools that have a large diverse student body?
  • How many partnerships have been formed with organizations that focus on needs of diverse professionals and other diverse candidates?
  • How many partnerships have been formed with community organizations?
  • Have all position openings been posted in publications and websites that cater to demographically diverse employees?


  • How many employees have an individual development plan?
  • How many employees have attended training classes/courses to enhance their development?
  • How many employees have taken advantage of some type of development opportunity?
  • What is the number of affected group employees that have attended some type of development opportunity?
  • What is the diversity of employees being offered high-risk, high reward assignments?
  • How many employees are participating in a formal mentoring relationship or program?
  • How many employees are involved in community organizations or events?
  • How many employees are taking advantage of flexible work hours?
  • How many employees are taking advantage of telecommuting?


You can track the number of employees who have participated in diversity training as well as the evaluations from the training sessions. You should review the employee evaluations of such training for insight into potential diversity issues in your work environment as well as to assess the effectiveness of diversity training. How many new training programs were developed or enhanced to specifically address diversity initiatives in the organization?

Diversity commitment

  • How many times have you communicated to your employees on diversity in writing and in person?
  • Have you recognized diversity champions within your organization, division, department, or unit?
  • How many community organizations that serve diverse groups are you involved with?
  • Have you evaluated your employees on their commitment to addressing diversity issues? Have you established on-going mechanisms to provide vital feedback on your diversity effort?
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