How To Ensure Your Public Sector DEI Initiatives Are Showing Results

According to two Gallup surveys conducted in 2022, HR leaders and employees have different perceptions of how fast diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives are being implemented in their organizations.

In one survey, 84% of Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) say their organizations are increasing investment in DEIB initiatives. Yet, in the other survey, only 31% of employees said they feel their organization is committed to improving racial justice or equity.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between what HR leaders are promising and what they’re delivering. How can public sector organizations ensure they don’t over-promise and under-deliver on their DEI goals?

How to Set Measurable and Achievable DEI Goals

As pressure mounts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, HR leaders are increasingly being held accountable for their DEI pledges. How can public sector organizations set measurable DEI goals and ensure they remain on track to achieving them?

Develop a DEI journey map

A journey map is a visual representation of the path your organization will take to accomplish a specific goal. Every organization’s DEI journey map may differ according to its unique needs, but it typically outlines the following:  

  • Phases or stages: Identify the phases or stages employees may go through as you roll out your DEI initiatives, such as awareness, engagement, education, action and impact.
  • Key touchpoints: Identify the DEI touchpoints such as recruitment, onboarding, training, policies and employee resources groups (ERGs).
  • Stakeholders: Identify the various stakeholders, such as organizational leaders, employees, managers, suppliers, partners and constituents.
  • DEI organizational assessment: Explore employees' experiences and the organizational culture that could be contributing to or detracting from building an inclusive workplace.
  • Actionable plan: List the steps you will take to achieve DEI transformation.
  • Metrics: Identify the metrics you will use to track and measure the progress of DEI initiatives.

Use Listening Posts

Listening posts are mechanisms set up to gather feedback and insights from employees. Providing employees—especially those from underrepresented communities—with opportunities to share their feelings and concerns is crucial to a successful DEI program.

Listening posts may include:

  • Employee pulse surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Employee resource groups
  • Town hall meetings
  • Anonymous feedback mechanisms
  • One-on-one conversations

Communicate Your DEI Progress

Don’t assume your employees know how you’re fairing with your DEI goals. Pricewaterhouse Cooper’s (PwC's) Global Diversity and Inclusion Survey shows that 63% of business leaders, compared to 42% of employees, believed their organization regularly communicates about the diversity of employees and leadership teams.

Keep employees updated on DEI milestones achieved, progress on recruiting a diverse workforce and any impediments slowing progress in certain areas.

Knowing you have to report on DEI progress to employees and other stakeholders at regular intervals will motivate you to keep the momentum going.

5 Examples of DEI Metrics to Track

To measure the progress toward your DEI goals, you need to do a deep dive into your HR metrics. DEI metric examples you can tap into to gauge your progress include the following:

1. Dollar Investment in DEI Initiatives

As the saying goes, money talks. Consider how much of your organization’s budget is allocated for:

  • DEI recruitment (including promoting internal DEI candidates)
  • Development and training of employees from underrepresented backgrounds
  • Salary increases to narrow unfair pay gaps

2. DEI Representation in Leadership Positions

How many of your leadership positions are held by leaders from underrepresented groups? Diversity should be visible across all levels of your organization. A lack of diversity in leadership can affect talent acquisition. Prospective candidates may choose not to join an organization that doesn’t reflect diversity in its leadership.

3. Employee Diversity Metrics

One clear indication that you’re achieving your DEI goals is to analyze your employee metrics. If the number of employees from underrepresented backgrounds is increasing, you’re on track. Remember that employee diversity isn’t just about race or gender. It also includes language, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, age and ability.

4. Pay Inconsistencies

Historically, pay disparity has predominantly affected women and people of color negatively. Unfortunately, closing the pay gap remains a challenge for many organizations.

One way to expedite this is to hold line managers accountable for ensuring their employees are fairly compensated. This strategy has proved successful for the McDonald’s Corporation. In 2021,  McDonald’s announced it had narrowed its global wage gap to 99.85%.

Here’s what they did:

First, the company held its executives accountable by tying 15% of their bonuses to meeting diversity and inclusion targets.

Second, they pledged to be transparent by publicly releasing employee demographics by race, ethnicity and gender.

And third, they committed to conducting a global pay analysis annually.

When employees are fairly compensated, they feel appreciated, respected and valued. This, in turn, can increase employee engagement and retention.

5. Number of Incident Reports

Does your organization have policies and reporting channels that make it safe for employees to address inappropriate behavior? These may include acts of racism, microaggressions, bullying or harassment. If incidents like these are decreasing, this may indicate that your organization's culture is shifting toward embracing diversity in the workplace.  

Why DEI in the Public Sector Matters

Inequality continues to persist in the workforce. Addressing DEI deficiencies in the public sector is not just the right thing to do for your organization: it also sets an example for the private sector to follow. Furthermore, DEI matters in the public sector because a diverse workforce can better serve and relate to a diverse constituent base.

However, without accountability, it’s easy to let DEI efforts slip. Some of the above measures will help leaders to meet their DEI transformation targets on schedule and hold them accountable to demonstrate actual—rather than perceived—results.