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The Narrative of Hiring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Starring Metrics


Guest Post from Career.Place

Consider what would happen if rather than watching a full movie, you stepped into the theater (or started streaming it) at a random point in time, watched for a moment, then left.

Depending on the moment you chose, you may have a sense of the characters and the plot. You may even have a guess on who’s good or evil, who will win or lose, or if the plot will turn right or left. But there is so much more that you will miss. The journey of the characters, the twists and turns as the plot unfolds, the emotional rollercoaster that comes with developing attachments to characters and rooting for them to succeed. And, with the little that you see, there’s a good chance whatever impression you’ve formed about the story or characters or ending, is wrong.

Truly understanding the narrative requires many moments that unfold over time, whether a movie or book or the story of what’s happening from a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) perspective within your organization’s hiring and retention efforts.

In other words, your DEI narrative is more than a single moment or single metric. It is a collection of metrics that unfold over time to tell a rich, full story.

So how do you ensure you are seeing the full picture?

Let’s walk through it, scene by scene.

In the beginning – there was sourcing

Diversity starts at the source. Without a diverse talent pool, there can be no diversity within your organization’s ranks. Start the story by understanding the demographic distribution of your candidate pool(s) and how that diversity compares

The metric: demographics of candidates applying for jobs.

demographics of candidates applying for jobs

How to collect: integrate a demographic collection question into the application process. Use the standard demographic collection guidelines for the country of the position (for example, in the United States, it is the EEOC standard) so that the question is comfortable and familiar to the candidates. If at all possible, keep the demographic data completely separate from the application so there is no real or perceived risk of the demographic data influencing the selection process (i.e. so it’s not possible for a hiring manager to see or filter on the candidate’s demographics).

What to look for: Compare the demographic distribution of your candidate pool to your goals, past performance, competitors, industry standards, locational demographics, or other relevant reference points. Inconsistencies between your data and your reference points will highlight potential issues or areas of improvement.

The deeper narrative: Understanding the general demographics of the candidate pool is a good start. But to really dive into the story, look deeper to find patterns and outliers. For example:

  • Demographics by source (job boards, educational institutions, referrals, staffing partners, recruiter outreach, etc.). See which sources are feeding which demographics (or not).
  • Demographics by role, rank, or discipline. Not all roles, ranks, and disciplines have the same available demographic distribution. What is a healthy distribution for one discipline may be horrible for another. For example, consider nurses (female-dominated) vs. doctors (greater gender neutrality).
  • Demographics by location: Not all locations have access to the same demographics in the candidate pools.
  • Demographics by department or team: Inconsistencies across departments or teams may point to a problem in the process vs. the available candidate pool.
  • Demographics by time: Sometimes the time of year or month impacts the availability of candidates which can impact the demographic distribution of the candidate pool.

Changing the narrative: Just because the data tells a story doesn’t mean you are stuck with it. There are many ways to change the sourcing narrative. For example, establishing new sources, modifying advertising and marketing strategies, and modifying the job description to better resonate with audiences. The key is to know your narrative so you can concentrate your efforts on true problems then see if the efforts have changed the results.

From source to screen – hiring inclusion

Diversity may start at the source, but it’s inclusion and equity that ensures all candidates with the potential to thrive have the opportunity to succeed in the screening process, independent of their demographics. However, If the screening process is not inclusive and equitable, one or more demographics will fade away, filtered out without a chance.

The metric: demographics of candidates at every point through the screening process.

demographics of candidates at every point through the screening process

How to collect: Use the demographic data collected at the source to track the demographic distribution of the candidates that make it through each stage of the screening process. Include steps such as meeting basic requirements, passing assessments, passing pre-interview steps (such as work sample submission and video interviews), and passing each interview round. Again, keep the demographic data completely separate from the application so there is no real or perceived risk of the demographic data influencing the selection process.

What to look for: Compare the demographic distribution of each stage of the process. Look for inconsistencies within the demographic distribution from stage to stage.

The deeper narrative: Just like with understanding diversity at the source, truly understanding inclusion and equity through the process (or lack thereof) requires a deeper look. Are there inconsistencies lurking in the details, such as in a specific location, for a certain discipline, or when a particular hiring manager is involved? To see what’s really going on, break down the data by:

  • Role, rank, and discipline
  • Location
  • Department and team
  • Hiring manager
  • Screened-out vs. opt-out
  • Hiring process steps (if different groups use different hiring steps)

Changing the narrative: Like with sourcing, there are many ways to change the screening narrative. For example, modifying the requirements, changing the interview questions and establishing an objective answer key, evolving the process steps, training the hiring team, establishing panel interview or interview evaluation processes, and adding objective scoring.

Reaching the climax of selection – diversity in hires

The narrative of DEI hiring all leads up to the hires. The diversity of the organization depends on who ultimately gets selected for each position. Even the most diverse, inclusive, and equitable process will completely fail if the final selections are the same pattern that has always been.

The metric: demographic distribution of hires.

demographic distribution of hires

How to collect: Use the demographic data collected at the source to track the demographic distribution of the candidates that are selected.

What to look for: Look across multiple jobs for inconsistencies between the demographic distribution of the qualified candidate pool and the selected employees. Note, for a diversity of hires, you must look at multiple jobs as a data set of one does not give any insight into diversity. (Diversity, by definition, is the differences across a group of people so there cannot be diversity in a data set of 1).

The deeper narrative: At this point, you’ve probably picked up the pattern; deeper understanding requires a deeper look.

To see what’s really going on, break down the data. However, for this part of the narrative, larger data sets are better. So, if you have limited hires within a group (for example, only hiring 2 people at a location over the past six months), expand the scope of the group or increase the timeframe to include more hires.

  • Role, rank, and discipline
  • Location
  • Department and team
  • Hiring manager/decision-maker

Changing the narrative: And, of course, there are many ways to change the hiring narrative. For example, creating an objective scorecard to distinguish finalists, modifying interview questions to provide deeper insights to further distinguish finalists for selection, establishing a panel selection process, requiring objective reasoning for selections, and training hiring teams on objective evaluation.

Beyond the hires – DEI in the workplace

Hiring new employees may be the end of the Talent Acquisition story, but it is just the beginning of the organizational narrative. How employees thrive or not can be hugely insightful to the health of inclusion, equity, and belonging within an organization.

The metrics: demographics of attrition (both regrettable and non-regrettable), employee satisfaction scores, compensation, performance scores, raises and awards, and promotions by time.

Note: this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start.

How to collect: Add employee demographics to reports on attrition, performance scores, etc.

What to look for: Look for demographic patterns and inconsistencies in the data. For example, a higher frequency of one or more demographics being promoted over others or one group getting disproportionate compensation or reward or a higher rate of regrettable attrition for one demographic over another.

The deeper narrative: Just like with hiring, dive deeper to see the full extent of the discrepancy by narrowing down those who are impacted. For example, drill down by:

  • Role, rank, and discipline
  • Location
  • Department and team
  • Management chain
  • Customer / member interactions
  • Programs / initiatives participation
  • Department and team interactions

Changing the narrative: And just like with hiring, there are many ways to change the narrative of DEI in the workforce. For example, establishing and communicating objective qualifications for raises and promotions, establishing and using pay-bands to enforce pay equity, drafting and promoting career paths and career path opportunities, driving change with employee feedback and input programs, adding management and employee training to promote inclusive practices, and taking consistent actions of reward and punishment to reinforce expected inclusive behaviors.

In the end – the full narrative of DEI

DEI in Talent Acquisition and beyond is more than just a single set of numbers or an instant of time. Like a movie, it unfolds over time and is rich with detail, plot twists, and hidden insights. To truly understand DEI, take the time to see the full narrative. Collect and analyze data at each step of the hiring process and beyond. Dive into the details by seeing how certain attributes such as location, role, and department impact the results. And when the narrative is not what you want for your program and your organization, take steps to change it.

And for those who want tips on how to change their narrative, well, that’s a topic for another time.

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