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Measuring Diversity Program Effectiveness

A. Collect Baseline Data
The first step in measurement, then, is to gather data about current conditions. Relevant information can be collected from a number of sources:

  1. Existing organizational data Buried in reports and computers in your organization is valuable information that tells about current conditions. Affirmative action plans, EEO complaints and grievances, as well as turnover and absenteeism statistics can give you pieces of the total picture. Existing employee satisfaction survey results also shed light on factors relevant to diversity. Such data provides even more insight when group compares statistics. For example, is there higher turnover among females than males and what is the dollar cost of turnover to your organization? Are there a higher percentage of EEO complaints in less diverse divisions? Is there a greater rate of absenteeism among a specific group of employees? Is there a significant difference in satisfaction levels of employees by ethnicity, job classification or gender?
  2. Conducting a diversity survey Another way of getting baseline information is by conducting a survey. This can be done by asking a random sample or all employees to respond to a paper and pencil instrument. It is important that the survey tool used is carefully tailored to your organization and constructed to provide the information you need, and that it give you enough demographic data about respondents to help you pinpoint issues and problems. It is also critical that the format be one that will encourage employees to participate. In one client organization, a one-page team development scale was used because leaders knew that their rough and ready field staff would not spend time on a lengthy questionnaire. Other organizations have considered a telephone survey response system to overcome resistance to paper and pencil instruments. Survey questions should be done professionally-leading or biased questions will skew results, and can engender hostility.
  3. Focus groups Getting employees together in small groups (6-10 people) to discuss their perceptions of obstacles, issues, and conditions is another way to obtain pertinent information. Discussions need to be led by skilled facilitators who keep the group on track and capture data either by taking notes or taping the discussion.

B. Determine Objectives
Once you've collected baseline data, your next step is to lay out clear objectives that are measurable. For example:

  • Reduce turnover of female sales representatives by 25%.
  • Increase satisfaction of all employees by 10% and reduce satisfaction disparities between groups by 50%.
  • Have management track employees to more closely match demographics of the total workforce. Some non-statistical criteria may be even more compelling. One organization claimed that it would be able to tell if there was an impact of their diversity intervention by the condition of the restrooms. They reasoned that tidy restrooms with no graffiti on walls nor trash on floors would be a sign of commitment and belonging by all employees.

C. Measurement
Once you've implemented your interventions, whether that be training, a mentoring program, or revamping promotional procedures, you then need to measure again, comparing findings to your baseline data. It is most valid to use the same processes in the post phase that you did in the pre-assessment. One organization used a simple but relevant method. Wanting to measure the effect of their diversity awareness training, they simply added one question to the regularly administered employee satisfaction survey. By asking respondents to indicate whether or not they had attended diversity training, they could compare survey results of those that had and had not participated in training. Results were dramatic, with those who had attended showing a significantly higher level of satisfaction in general and a greater ability to resolve conflicts and solve problems with coworkers. The case was made that the training did have a positive impact on employee performance. Measurement needs to be an integral part of your diver-sity process, not just a check up at the end of a program. Gathering data and setting criteria are critical aspects of your early planning. Finally, remember that measurement is not over when you conduct your post assessment. Rather, each check up should give feedback that continues to shape future plans, so that evaluation is integration into your ongoing diversity process.

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