Most Companies Don't Measure the Bottom-Line Impact of Diversity Programs
While most companies agree that diversity issues in the workplace deserve attention, not many have a clear and consistent definition of just what "it" is, according to i4cp's latest study. The results are now available to i4cp members.
The study found overall, only about 1 in 5 (21%) study respondents have a broad and inclusive definition of diversity, while 17% admit they have no definition at all. Higher market-performing organizations are more likely to define diversity broadly, with 28% reporting they include all diversity groups in their definition, compared to only 15% of lower-performing companies that include them all. Roughly one in four (23%) lower-performer companies do not even have a diversity definition, and 12% of higher performers don't either. Also, few organizations measure the bottom-line impact of diversity initiatives. In higher-performing organizations, 76% said they do not calculate a return on their diversity investments, while 80% of lower performers don't measure ROI.
Higher-performing organizations have a more inclusive definition of diversity
Diversity strategy, however, is a widely recognized topic, particularly among larger companies. A full 78% of organizations with 10,000 or more employees report having a diversity strategy, compared to 44% of companies with 100 to 999 employees and 31% in companies with fewer than 100 workers.
The perceived importance of diversity is not lost on companies, either. Seventy-two percent of higher-performing organizations say that diversity issues are "important" or "very important" today, and 80% believe the issue will be important/very important in 10 years. That compares to 76% of lower performers who feel diversity is important or very important today, and 83% of them believe it will be so in 10 years.
"Defining 'diversity and inclusion' is a primary challenge for organizations to 'move the needle.' If you cannot agree on what diversity is, how do you create a strategy?" asks i4cp's Mary Ann Downey. "How do you know when you have succeeded? Another challenge is measurement. If you define diversity narrowly to attributes that are measurable, such as race/ethnicity, gender, etc., are you addressing the business challenge?"
Regarding budget considerations for diversity programs, larger and higher-performing companies are more likely to set a specific budget. Fifty-nine percent of companies with more than 10,000 workers have specific budgets for diversity issues, compared to 19% of companies with 100-999 employees, and 11% of companies with fewer than 100 workers. Higher performers (48%) are also more apt to specifically fund such initiatives than are lower-performing firms, at 27%.
When it comes to measuring the success of their programs, organizations at all performance levels agree that retention and engagement top the list. Improvement in employee retention was cited by 69% of higher performers as the top diversity success measurement, followed by better employee engagement results at 54%. More than half (56%) of lower performers cited retention as the top measurement, and 54% (the same as higher performers) pointed to improved employee engagement. When reviewing diversity metrics, companies at all levels tend to rely on the previous year's results for comparison purposes.
To support diversity strategies, the most common infrastructure in place is diversity training, favored by 53% of higher performers and 54% of lower-performing companies. Diversity recruiting is favored by 49% of higher performers, compared to 36% of lower performers.
The Diversity Practices Survey was conducted by i4cp in September of 2009. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.
Additionally, i4cp hosted a webinar titled, Global Diversity and Inclusion: A Johnson & Johnson Success Story. The webinar was presented by Arisa Cunningham, Vice President of Global Diversity at Johnson & Johnson.